Legislative Council: Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Australian Sikh Games

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (15:47): I rise to bring to the attention of the chamber the remarkable success of the recent Sikh Games, held in Adelaide over the Easter long weekend. The Sikh community worked together, almost like a military operation, but with a peaceful objective, of course, to leave no stone unturned in making Adelaide's 2024 Sikh Games the best ever. And they succeeded.

It was wonderful to see a community working so well together as young and old, men, women and children, stepped up to the plate to make the games work fluently and ensure that visitors were made welcome. The amount of visitors deserves special mention, as records were set. Around 80,000 people from right across Australia and overseas turned up on the long weekend to cheer home their local or adopted athletes in this wonderful event.

Over three days, more than 4,000 athletes from all over Australia, as well as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada, competed in 14 different sports. At least 80 per cent of the athletes came from interstate and overseas. Typical of the inclusiveness of the Sikh way, the games cater for men and women, boys and girls of all ages. From under 9s, the various sporting events run through the age groups to open competition, and even veteran's events for the over 40s and 50s.

Sports included cricket, rugby, tennis, hockey, soccer, athletics, netball and the sport that captured everyone's attention at these games: kabadi. Kabadi is something of a mix of rugby and wrestling, although that is an oversimplification. As it sounds, though, it is not for the faint-hearted. It is a full-on sport that gets the crowd involved from the opening minutes, and fortunately there are usually no serious injuries. In keeping with the Sikh philosophy, tens of thousands of meals were given out to those in attendance.

The Sikh Games are growing in stature every year in Australia. This is the second time in seven years that Adelaide has hosted the games. The financial numbers are not in yet, but the last time the Sikh Games were held in Adelaide, in 2017, they brought well over $12 million in new spending to the economy. With attendance and participation numbers well up on last year, we can reasonably assume the economic impact has been even greater this time around.

But these Games, which drew some people to Adelaide for the first time and introduced a lot more to a whole new culture, are about more than money. The Sikh Games are important because they bring to our broader attention the contribution the Sikh community has made over many years all around the country.

Australia has a strong and growing Sikh community numbering more than 200,000 people, who are proud of their heritage and of their Australian home. They contribute a massive $15 billion-plus to the national economy every year. In South Australia, there are more than 12,000 Sikh members in the community. This has grown from a handful of families settling here in 1978 to a thriving community.

I reiterate: this is about more than statistics and money. The Sikh Games brought communities and cultures together at a time when many people are also celebrating Easter, and it worked out perfectly. People got together, had a great time, watched some remarkable sporting contests and even learned some new sports. If you ever wanted to see the much talked about inclusiveness in action, you would have seen it on and off the sporting field at the Adelaide Sikh Games.

I would like to the congratulate the Sikh community, who got behind the Sikh Games, and the Sikh Games committee for their tireless work. They are President Balwant Singh, Vice-President Sukhwinder Pal Singh, Mahanbir Singh Grewal, Parminder Singh, Harpreet Saini, Harjinder Lasara, Ishareet Nagra, Rajawant Singh and Jazmin Pangly. Their hard work, along with the support of the entire Sikh community, the state government and the Adelaide City Council, were vital in making the 2024 Adelaide Sikh Games the great success that they were.