Multiculturalism Matters forum participants
Multiculturalism Matters forum participants

Victoria University, one of Australia’s most culturally diverse universities with more than 90 cultures represented and 200 languages spoken among staff and students, today joins the United Nations to mark the World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development.

Last week, VU partnered with the City of Melbourne, one of Australia’s most culturally diverse local government areas, for the first of an annual public conversation ‘Multicultural Matters’ as a prelude to the Day.

No other university in Australia has developed a similar partnership to hold regular public discussions with a capital city government.

A panel of renowned thought-leaders led a discussion at Melbourne Town Hall related to cultural diversity, multiculturalism, social cohesion, belonging and citizenship.

The panel included:

  • Chin Tan – Race Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Anthea Hancocks – CEO, Scanlon Foundation
  • George Magelogenis – Journalist and political commentator
  • Dr Mario Peucker – academic expert on right-wing extremism
  • Ahmed Hassan – African Australian Youth Activating Youth member
  • Tasneem Chopra – moderator and cross-cultural consultant.

VU Vice President of Learning and Teaching Professor Ian Solomonides and City of Melbourne Councillor Beverley Pinder provided the opening address.

Participant comments

“The City of Melbourne cannot control world events but we can work closely with our communities to minimise the impact of discrimination.” Beverley Pinder

“Multiculturalism is part of Victoria University’s DNA and our Cultural Diversity Strategy sets a benchmark for all other universities.” Ian Solomonides

“80 per cent of Australians think multiculturalism is positive. Negative views are often about the federal government’s ability to handle immigration so this conflates two very different things.” Anthea Hancocks

Labelling and name-calling doesn’t support multiculturalism: it creates resentment, it creates fear, and it can victimise communities.” Chin Tan

“The media are often blamed for perpetuating stereotypes or stigmatising groups. The media landscape is problematic because it’s a monocultural structure of privilege and power.” Mario Peucker

“Why should young Africans show respect when they are called thugs and animals?” Ahmed Hassan

“Melbourne was a global role model for diversity in the 19th century. Today it continues to handle diversity better than any other Australian city.” George Magelogenis

“One day discussions about multiculturalism will transition from a fringe issue, the same way that LGBTI issues did, and just become part of who we are.” Tasneem Chopra

VU Cultural Diversity Manager Dr Teresa De Fazio said the event highlighted the university-wide policies and programs VU continuously invests in through its Cultural Diversity Strategy to leverage cultural diversity as an institutional strength.