Inclusion and acceptance of migrant communities needs to come from the top down, an Australian Green MP says today, nearly three months on since the Christchurch terrorist attack on two mosques that left 51 people dead.
Shakti New Zealand and Australia's founder Farida Sultana and Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam, also part of the Khadija Leadership network, are running a conference starting today in Auckland called Let's Deal With It.
The conference has a focus on racial equality with a chance for people in migrant communities to have their say.
Ms Ratnam migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka 30 years ago to find a better life and escape war. She says when her family first arrived she felt accepted.
"I've lived in Australia for over 30 years now it's been really warm and generous to us. I mean someone like me can be in a parliament in Australia, that is something my parents wouldn't have believed if you told them when we first arrived there," she told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.
"Sadly though I feel like that strength of our multiculturalism and that cohesion and that warmth and generosity has eroded over the years.
"It's sad but it has gone backwards and I feel like political leadership has weakened around these issues," Ms Ratnam says.
She says that cohesion of communities must come from the top down.
"It's the impact of political leaders on that cohesion," Ms Ratnam says.
"You should feel a sense of belonging, and feel like you have an equal and important place in a community no matter whether you've always lived there or you've arrived recently."
Founder of Shakti Ms Sultana says both Australia and New Zealand need to address this issue.
"I personally believe after September 11 (2001 terrorist attack in New York) the world will never be the same again. I think even though we think it's not going to affect us in New Zealand it's affected us in many ways, in the way we think and behave and how the Muslim community feels about themselves," she says.
Ms Ratnam says she is looking forward to the conference.
"I'm really interested in the multi-cultural communities voices being heard and hearing their experiences so we know how to respond."
The trans-Tasman conference, Let's Deal With It, starts today at the Mount Eden War Memorial Hall in Auckland.