Organized by the Cairns and Region Multicultural Association Inc (CARMA), this year's festival brought together more than 35 community groups from various cultural backgrounds, turning the park into a bustling hub of entertainment, activities, and flavours from around the world.
CARMA, established in March 2002, serves as the umbrella association for over 50 community groups in the Cairns region. Initially founded by Centacare Migrant Services to advocate for refugee arrivals in Cairns, CARMA now operates solely through the dedication of its 100% volunteer workforce.
The festival was a testament to CARMA's mission of fostering cultural diversity, unity, and awareness in Queensland. It provided a platform for communities to share their unique cultures through storytelling, history, food, dance, arts & crafts, music, and various other activities. Among the cultures represented were Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Fiji, Chile, Mauritius, Africa, Iran, Jordan, Thailand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, India, New Zealand, Nepal, Serbia, Greece, and many more.
Youth empowerment was at the forefront of CARMA's efforts, aiming to uplift the next generation through cultural preservation and leadership development, including public speaking.
The festival's highlights included cultural dance performances by various groups, a Didgeridoo Workshop led by Jason Von Roehl, a Cultural Fashion Show showcasing diverse attires, live dance numbers by the Cairns Flashmobs, and the mesmerizing Japanese NEO Taiko Drummers. A special treat was the traditional Lion and Dragon Dance performed by CADCAI Lions & Dragon Dance, symbolizing good luck and fortune in Chinese culture and only PNG performance by the wonderful Siale Dance Troupe.
Digicel International, a major sponsor and supporter of the Carma Festival for the past eight years, played a crucial role in the event. Queensland Diaspora Manager, Chris Tuia, emphasized Digicel's commitment to engaging with the Pacific community in Far North Queensland, providing vital information on Digicel services and products.
Digicel Top Ups were highlighted as readily available at numerous retail stores, reinforcing the brand's presence in the community. Weekly promotions, including cash prizes and trips home, were also a part of Digicel's engagement strategy.
Also at the festival was KlickEx, a company specializing in Pacific Money Transfers, which partnered with Digicel International to facilitate mobile wallet services in PNG. KlickEx Country Manager Ugao Tile Laumea encouraged individuals to use their platform to send money back home to their loved ones in PNG.
The Cairns Multicultural Festival continues to be a remarkable celebration of cultural diversity, bringing together communities from across the globe and fostering unity and understanding in the Far North Queensland region.