This week kicks off Victoria’s annual Cultural Diversity Week and I was fortunate to attend The Premier’s Gala Dinner with my wife over the weekend to celebrate its launch. This year’s theme is ‘Our journey, Our stories’ and it encourages us to share and listen to each other’s stories and experiences. I wanted to use this platform to share with you how encouraged I was to experience such a diverse and enriching event.
There were 1400 attendees to the Gala Dinner and the eye-grabbing multitude of national costumes on display and the cultural performances showcased throughout the night were simply breathtaking; from Indigenous Australians to Sudan, from Ukraine to Sri Lanka, from China to Polynesia, I was truly moved in a very visceral way. In my work, I am constantly going in to bat for cultural awareness and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and its importance in our society, and it can often feel dispiriting to look at how far we, as a community, still need to travel on our diversity journey. However, this event served as a meaningful snapshot of what this journey can and must look like.
Our Premier, the Honourable Daniel Andrews, gave a compelling talk about the significance of Victoria’s role in the diversity journey. “No matter who you are, where you are born or the language you first spoke, here in Victoria you can belong. We don’t just tolerate diversity – we embrace it. It’s part of who we are.” He highlighted that while Sydney celebrates its aesthetics and Brisbane celebrates its weather, Victoria celebrates its multiculturalism. Our state is not only the most multicultural city in Australia, it is also one of the most multicultural cities in the world with citizens from more than 200 countries, who speak 260 languages and follow 135 different faiths.
So my advice to you is the same advice I often give to myself: to be encouraged. The Victorian Government has set out a way forward that values equality, freedom and shared responsibility. It is committed to ensuring that every Victorian can contribute and belong in our communities, and importantly it is setting out the necessary policies, programs, services and funding that aim to meet and extend this commitment. As they put it best – “In short, our diversity doesn’t limit our opportunities – it grows them.”
For more information on Cultural Diversity Week 2017 and the Victorian Government’s commitment to a multicultural Victoria please visit proud.vic.gov.au.
As part of Cultural Diversity Week 2017, I will be gifting a series of Cultural Intelligence materials to the local councils in my area. If you are interested in receiving these materials or know a community organisation that may find them useful please reach out to me via email: [email protected]