Updated: Feb 13, 2019
4 February 2019 | Sulieni Layt of Pasifika Media
Brisbane, AUSTRALIA: Brisbane City Councillor, Jonathan Sri, from The Gabba Ward met with members of the Brisbane Tongan Community Inc. (BTC) to discuss ways Brisbane City Council could better support initiatives to benefit the growing Brisbane Tongan Community.
Notably Brisbane’s first Tongan Church, the Uniting Church (Park Church) Tongan Congregation is situated within The Gabba Ward on Hampstead Road in Highgate Hill and continues to serve as a central contact point for the 300-strong congregation as well as many visiting groups from the Kingdom of Tonga, including newly arrived migrants and Tongan international students.
The church plays a vital role in preserving the Tongan culture, language and traditions amongst the Australian-born youth, whilst hosting the Sia Melie Kava Club.
BTC advocates for the preservation of the Tongan language with plans to celebrate the annual International Tongan Language Week in the first week of September annually.
Cr Jonathan Sri was keen to support the Tongan Language School initiative of the Brisbane Tongan Community and encouraged BTC to apply for a council grant through his ward to ensure vitally needed resources could be purchased for the Tongan Language School and Library project.
In addition, discussions were had to raise the plight of retired Tongan subsistence farmers who have an ongoing need for land to be farmed to benefit the broader community as well as educating the next generation on traditional Tongan agricultural skills. Cr Jonathan Sri has suggested a community garden project and wishes to work collaboratively with BTC to see this a reality.
Cr Jonathan Sri has encouraged the Tongan Community in West End to consider creating a mini community garden on the footpath outside the Uniting Church (Park Church) Tongan Congregation at Highgate Hill as a way of starting this process and promoting the harmonious relationship Pacific Islanders share with the environment.
With over 6,000 Tongans living in the Brisbane and wider region, Brisbane City Council plays a pivotal role in supporting the ongoing integration and success of the Tongan Community in Brisbane.
BTC expresses its gratitude to Cr Jonathan Sri from The Gabba Ward for his ongoing support of both the Tongan diaspora in Brisbane and the wider community.