Victoria University has won the State Government’s top award for providing outstanding service to multicultural communities and connecting the University to the rich benefits of multiculturalism.
VU Vice Chancellor Peter Dawkins and Cultural Diversity Manager Dr Teresa De Fazio accepted the Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Award for Business Excellence from the Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau and Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott at Government House on 12 September.
Victoria University is one of the most culturally-diverse universities in Australia, with more than 90 different cultures represented and 200 languages spoken among staff and students. About 43% of VU staff and 45% of VU students were born overseas.
Professor Dawkins said the formal recognition reaffirms VU’s long-standing purpose to provide exceptional value for any student from any background while uplifting the many communities in which it operates.
“We celebrate and value cultural diversity as a distinctive strength and an asset that promotes innovation. We ensure the experiences we provide for our students are interculturally inclusive, community connected, and transformational.”
Dr De Fazio said VU’s incredibly diverse community co-creates the sense of belonging and social cohesion that the University is well known for.
“Cultural diversity at VU is not just based on statistics – it has long been at the heart of the work we undertake each and every day with our students, colleagues, and the community.”
Victorian Multicultural Commission Chair Helen Kapalos congratulated VU on receiving the award, which recognises “how VU embeds the ethos and practice of cultural diversity as part of the University experience.”
Award highlights new strategy
The award highlights VU’s formal Cultural Diversity Strategy launched earlier this year. While VU has always had a quiet and proud commitment to multiculturalism, this whole-of-university strategy mobilises into one portfolio its many initiatives that advance and celebrate a rich diversity of perspectives and foster a global mindset. These include:
- intercultural awareness programs for students and staff
- professional mentoring programs for culturally-diverse students
- conducting research that develops understandings of social cohesion
- partnering with community and industry organisations that engage graduates in responsible citizenship
- financial and other support programs for refugees and asylum-seekers
- observing culturally significant times, and holding events and activities to celebrate cultural diversity at the University and in the wider community.
Dr De Fazio said receiving the award is a significant step toward VU’s mission to be distinguished nationally and internationally as an interculturally-engaged, educationally-responsive and globally-connected university.