We proudly foster social harmony and promote our state’s cultural, linguistic and religious diversity through an engaging program of events and communications.
Encouraging Victorians to embrace diversity and its benefits lies at the heart of our work. In 2019-2020 the VMC used its wide-reaching communication network to:
- promote unity, understanding and harmony among Victoria’s diverse communities
- promote the social, cultural and economic benefits of diversity
- promote interaction between individuals and communities from diverse backgrounds
- encourage all of Victoria’s diverse communities to retain and express their social identity and cultural inheritance and to promote mutual respect
Multicultural Awards for Excellence
Victoria’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence honour individuals and organisations for outstanding initiatives that foster cross-cultural understanding and strengthen our state’s diverse communities. Since they were first held in 2002, the awards have been held in high regard by government officials and communities alike. In November 2019, 61 Victorians were recognised across 10 categories at a formal ceremony at Government House, highlighting the passionate work of Victorians who championed diversity through paid or volunteer work. Winners included Christian Bashimbe, who received the Emerging Leadership in Multiculturalism Award for his inspiring leadership and advocacy for young refugees and recently arrived migrants in regional Victoria. The Premier’s Award for Community Harmony went to lawyer and community advocate, Nyadol Nyuon, while SBS Somali and SBS Italian received the Media Award for their sensitive reporting in the aftermath of Melbourne’s tragic Bourke Street attack.
Cultural Diversity Week 2019 Sponsor Event
In October 2019, the VMC welcomed Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs, Josh Bull, members of the Consular Corps, Cultural Diversity Week 2019 sponsors, supporters and many friends to help celebrate a successful year and to thank sponsors for their generous contributions. Held at the Immigration Museum, the night was the first official event for the largely new cohort of Commissioners and there was a buzz of excitement in the air as the new Chairperson, Vivienne Nguyen shared the VMC’s vision for leading public discourse about multiculturalism and diversity. The VMC launched its plans for Cultural Diversity Week 2020 with the new theme ‘Curiosity. Conversation. Community.’ which invited Victorians to be curious about culture and each other, to start conversations and help build and nurture a strong community where our differences are embraced.
Cultural Diversity Week 2020
Unfortunately, with the rapidly changing situation around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and a ban on mass gatherings, the VMC made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone Cultural Diversity Week 2020. Held annually in March, Cultural Diversity Week brings Victorians together to recognise and celebrate the many cultures that make our state such a wonderful place to live. Given the popularity and significance of the annual Premier’s Gala Dinner and Victoria’s Multicultural Festival, this was a disappointing decision to make, but one that was necessary to ensure the safety of the community, performers and staff.
Midsumma Pride March
In February 2020, VMC Commissioners and staff showed solidarity with multicultural LGBTIQA+ communities by marching in the Midsumma Pride March in St Kilda, the first in a planned series of activities celebrating and exploring intersectionality.
International Women’s Day
The VMC celebrated the achievements of women from all cultural backgrounds and their contribution to the community at the inaugural International Women’s Day Breakfast. Held at the State Library of Victoria, attendees at the sell-out event were treated to an inspiring group of speakers: The Hon. Gabrielle Williams MP, Nova Peris OAM, Tuanh Nguyen and Monica Forson. Proceeds from the event were donated to Djirra, an Aboriginal community organisation that provides culturally safe, holistic support and specialist family violence legal assistance and representation to Aboriginal women and their children in Victoria.
Every year, the VMC is proud to support many community events and 2019-20 was no different. Our Commissioners proudly represented the VMC at multiple community-led events to mark important occasions and celebrate the rich cultures and communities of multicultural Victoria. From March 2020, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a sudden and substantial impact on the community and cultural events across the state, with in-person festivals, performances and events cancelled or postponed. However, while large gatherings were not possible many community organisations and festival organisers rose to the challenge of engaging audiences remotely. There has been no shortage of online cultural and religious celebrations, music and art performances events across Victoria, as community organisations have explored innovative new event formats to highlight our diversity, foster a sense of belonging and keep communities connected.
Online cultural workshops
Keen to still offer our audiences some cultural experiences during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the VMC engaged culturally diverse artists and performers to hold a series of live online workshops, including turban tying, Bollywood dance, macramé and butoh. As these new events proved to be popular, the VMC will explore the provision of similar workshops in the future.
In recognition of Reconciliation Week, the VMC issued a statement committing to building relationships and communities that recognise, respect and value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures and facilitating and supporting meaningful connections between Aboriginal Victorians and multicultural communities. Beginning the journey of listening and learning, the VMC held an online forum in Reconciliation Week and Commissioners and staff shared a cultural learning experience with the teachers and families of Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre in Thomastown, Victoria.
Supporting and celebrating with Muslim women
In the lead up to Ramadan, various communities raised concerns with the VMC about the particular challenges faced by Muslim women during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The VMC delivered a Women’s Virtual Iftar to reflect on the experience of observing Ramadan at home and explore how women of all backgrounds can connect, unite and uplift each other. Following the success of the iftar and in recognising the need for further discussion, the VMC also held an online forum for Muslim women where participants shared their experiences, insights and recommendations for addressing issues affecting their communities during the pandemic.
In June 2020, the VMC held an online forum to mark the significance of Refugee Week. Chairperson Vivienne Nguyen led an open and honest conversation with a panel of former refugees and human rights advocates, who shared their stories and explored the themes of resilience and belonging.
Summer Film Program with Swinburne University
The Summer Film Program is an innovative collaboration between the VMC and Swinburne University of Technology that aims to generate new understanding and representations of contemporary multiculturalism. Each year, Swinburne University researchers Dr Vincent Giarusso and Dr Glenda Ballantyne recruit current and past film and animation students to produce short films that explore perspectives of a generation born into ‘multicultural Australia’. Launched in 2017, initial research findings highlight this generation’s willingness to embrace Australia’s multicultural identity as they seek to redefine it. The final research report is anticipated for release in 2020.
Year-round calendar of events
When 2020 commenced, the VMC had planned a calendar of events to engage Victorians throughout the year. However, due to coronavirus (COVID-19), many of our events were cancelled including Culture Waves, a music event for young people, and our ever-popular Multicultural Film Festival. We look forward to presenting these events in the future, alongside Cultural Diversity Week and a myriad of new events and initiatives that promote diversity and provide opportunities for Victorians to participate and celebrate.
Reviewed 02 November 2020