The VMC is the voice between Victorian multicultural communities and the Victorian government. Regional Advisory Committees (RACs) are our means of hearing what’s happening on the ground. Without them, we cannot advocate for our communities’ needs. Each of our Commissioners chair a Regional Advisory Committee, so let’s hear what they have to say this Cultural Diversity Week as we #ConnectThroughCulture.
First up we have Jennifer Huppert, the chair of our Southern Metropolitan RAC, who shares her Jewish traditions and the importance of connecting across multicultural communities.
Please tell us your name and a bit about yourself.
My name is Jennifer Huppert, I'm a commercial property lawyer, and outside my professional life I have been involved in community work for many, many years. Most recently I was the president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, and I'm currently a board member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. I was also member of the Legislative Council of the Parliament of Victoria representing the Southern Metropolitan Region.
What does ‘Connecting Through Culture’ mean to you?
Connecting through culture is about finding ways to work with different multicultural communities, so we can learn about each other and deepen our understanding of each other. This helps to improve relations between our communities and social cohesion.
How do you connect with people inside your community?
I connect through developing personal relationships within the Jewish community. A lot of our connection is through celebration of festivals and holy days, where we celebrate and learn more about our own Jewish culture. During the pandemic a lot of traditions moved online, for example through zoom family dinners. Each Friday evening before Sabbath started, we'd have a zoom meeting amongst family members and friends. We also held broader Jewish community events online to ensure we could stay connected.
How do you connect with people outside your community?
One of the many ways I connect is through our Regional Advisory Councils (RACs). They are an important tool in bringing people together from different communities so they can gain a better understanding of each other’s concerns, and to work together towards a shared aim.
Cultural Diversity Week celebrates multiculturalism, but also centres around International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. What are your reflections about this day?
Promoting multiculturalism is part of the toolkit we have to eliminate racial discrimination. Racism is a broad issue which requires a concerted community effort and all involvement from levels of government. Internationally recognised days like this one are a great way of creating focus on important issues.
What do you like most about the Regional Advisory Council that you chair?
That's a great question. I enjoy the opportunity to engage with committed members of the community. RACs are an important interface between government and communities, and the VMC's way to ensure upwards and downwards exchange of information between government decision makers and community members on the ground.
What is one way that Victorians can connect through culture this Cultural Diversity Week?
Go online, and attend it! There are a variety of events being put on by lots of different communities and it would be great if everyone made an effort to attend these events in order to meet people from different communities. Through deepening our understanding of others, we'll be able to connect and build social cohesion.
Reviewed 21 March 2022