Held from Dec 12, 2016 till Jan 26, 2017
KUWIT: The Australian Embassy, in cooperation with Kuwait Times, is proud to launch the ‘Colours of Australia’ drawing competition for students in Kuwait. The competition will see students in Kuwait learn more about different countries, cultures and civilizations, and identify with communities in other parts of the world through arts. Kuwait Times spoke with Australian Ambassador to Kuwait Warren Hauck to learn more about the competition.
Kuwait Times: Tell us about the ‘Colours of Australia’ art competition. What inspired you to get behind this project?
Hauck: The competition is meant to bring Australia closer to Kuwait. “Australia is a place you feel”, so we are trying to get that sense to Kuwaitis and students as well. Colours of Australia can be about landscapes – the red of inland Australia, the blue of the ocean, animals such as kangaroos and koalas, or about the people of Australia, given Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, something we are very proud of.
KT: How does Australia celebrate the diversity of cultures and communities within its borders?
Hauck: Over a third of Australians were born overseas. This rich, cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths. It is central to our national identity, and over 85 percent of people in Australia agree that multiculturalism has been good for Australia.
We officially celebrate this diversity through “Harmony Day”, a day marked by people coming together and participating in local activities. The continuing message of Harmony Day is ‘Everyone Belongs’. It is about community participation, inclusiveness, celebrating diversity, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.
But multiculturalism is more than a government event; it is in the food and in the people of Australia. I myself am as likely to cook a Thai curry, kebab, or a pizza. Multiculturalism is a part of what we are in the society.
KT: What are some things people should know about Australia? What are the most important facts to know before visiting?
Hauck: Australia is not that far – we are the same distance or even closer than the US. We have over 150 direct flights per week to the GCC. The visa process is easy. If you are a GCC national, you can apply online – no need to send the passport. It usually takes 24 to 48 hours. Expats can apply at the Australian visa application center at Arraya Tower.
We invented Wi-Fi and Google Maps, so you know our technology has to be good. The food is fantastic and fresh and we have one of the oldest continuing civilizations in the world in our indigenous population.
KT: What are some cultural points of interest that Australia is particularly proud of?
Hauck: There are so many, I do not know where to start. One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef, is a breathtaking beauty and the world’s largest coral reef. It has over 1,000 species of fish, and to give an idea of its size, is larger than Italy. Inland you have Uluru (Ayers Rock), where you can dine under the stars after watching the sunset. Or head down to Tasmania for unspoiled wilderness.
Equally, visitors should visit Sydney, which was just ranked as the most admired city in the world, as well as Melbourne, which has been voted as the most livable city for the sixth time in a row.
KT: How large is the Australian community in Kuwait and what do they do here?
Hauck: We have around 1,100 Australians in Kuwait – they do a bit of everything, from banking, teaching, and engineering in some of the companies here. We have an Australian business group which brings different business networks together.
KT: How many visitors from Kuwait does Australia receive annually? What are the top places they visit?
Hauck: We had about 4,000 Kuwaitis visiting Australia last year. In terms of where they go, the most visited place was Australia’s Gold Coast and Queensland. It has entertainment parks and is nice during the Kuwaiti summer, around 25 degrees.
KT: What do you think about Kuwait and the diversity of communities you find here?
Hauck: I have felt very welcomed in Kuwait as an Australian. And it is a diverse society here – I have friends from Syria, India, Kuwait, Australia, America and Britain to name a few. Unfortunately, the recent tragic events in Germany, Turkey, and Jordan erode some of the confidence in having diverse societies, so I am very proud that Australia continues to be a multicultural society.
KT: Tell us more about the Australian Embassy’s upcoming events.
Hauck: The Colours of Australia art competition ends on Jan 26, which is also Australia’s National Day. We will around that time be holding a reception, and through January, organize events where Australian executive chefs will promote products and show people how to cook Australian meat. Stay tuned as well for our newspaper supplement, which will have a lot of information on Australia for tourists, students and businesses.
We are also keen to engage more with the Australian universities’ alumni here in Kuwait, so if you’ve studied in Australia, follow us on Twitter or Facebook to make sure you can link with our events. We’re also very proud to work closely with our education institutions here in Kuwait – the Australian College of Kuwait, who have sponsored the drawing competition, and Box Hill College Kuwait.
How to apply
The competition is open for all schools that want to participate. The drawing competition is being held from Dec 12, 2016 till Jan 26, 2017, allowing participants from government, special needs and private and bilingual schools enough time to submit their artworks.
On the due date, the drawing sheets will be collected by Kuwait Times, and a jury of professional artists will be selected from the Kuwait Arts Association, who will choose the top 10 winners in each age group. The contest is open to both boys and girls as follows: Elementary (6-9 years), Intermediate (10-13 years) and Secondary (14 years and above), in addition to special needs students.
Valuable prizes, including phones and tablets, will be awarded to the top 10 entrants in each category. Three top winners in each category will be given a plaque and major prizes, while the remaining seven runners-up will receive certificates and prizes. A certificate will also be given to the school as recognition of honorable participation. The competition is sponsored by VIVA and the Australian College of Kuwait, with the awards event to be hosted by Crowne Plaza Hotel Al-Thuraya City.
By Faten Omar