Australia Day

26 January 2015

86 days to go

More on diversity

Ethnicity and cultural diversity
'Cultural diversity' is commonly interpreted in relation to ethnicity. However, the term should be understood within a broader context where it recognises the unique attributes of all persons. 

Belonging and loyalties
There is a tendency in discussions of cultural diversity to assume that ethnicity is the central way people identify and associate themselves with others. 

Commonsense tells us that we have different ways of belonging, and things we belong to. Residents of Australia may experience confusion over a loyalty to, for example, their country of birth and the country they now live in. People may feel a loyalty to multiple flags, anthems and cultural practices. Cultural identity also exists in relation to other forms of social and national belonging.

Celebrating Australia Day provides an opportunity to experience a sense of pride in Australia: in its values, the opportunities it provides, the nation's striving for equity, and its future visions like Australia as a humanitarian, environmentally sustainable, forward looking and peaceful place. 

Inclusive practice recognises the complexities of belonging. 

Respectful relationships
Diverse groups can work together providing there is a respect for difference. Respectful relationships require commitment to acknowledging and respecting differences. They develop from encouragement and facilitation, rather than from demand or duress.

In meetings you, as an Australia Day organiser, will need to use your skills, sensitivities and knowledge about team dynamics. You may consider some support from an expert if you recognise you need this (many communities have people trained in group dynamics). It will also be helpful to seek advice and support from group leaders.

Inviting and welcoming of ideas from culturally diverse groups
The most effective approach to achieving inclusivity is to invite leaders and members from various groups to meet with the Australia Day organising group/committee and invite them to talk about what they know about Australia Day celebrations, what they would like, what they might feel comfortable with.

By using this informal and respectful approach, you will provide an opportunity for reciprocal learning, enhanced understanding, an exchange of ideas and experiences as well as possibly new and exciting innovations. In addition the approach should mitigate any fear or presumption on part of groups that the organising group/committee is telling others what they (the group) might value or like.

Consultation and planning
Invite and include participants from diverse cultural groups in Australia Day event planning. They will be able to offer valuable advice as well as use their own social networks to encourage greater participation.

Calendar and festivals 

Consider diverse cultural interests when planning (e.g. try to avoid dates that will coincide with religious and cultural festivals). Searching the Internet might be a sensible starting point, but don't undervalue asking for advice and information. 

Publicity and promotion 
Public representations of groups are powerful.  Take care that all forms of communication and publicity encompass both diversity and a sense of pride in Australia (see the Promoting your event tool)

Your posters, publicity and promotion will develop from and within your community, and will express your community experiences, demographic features and local culture.

Some strategies for inclusive communications

  • Languages-consider using a number of languages on posters and in advertising to emphasise that all are welcome.
  • Flags-suggest that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags fly alongside the Australian National Flag at local events. Photo of flags would be great here. Make sure it is different from the one in theAustralian National Flag and flag flying tool.
  • Photos-carefully select the photos you use for publicity, newspaper items, and media releases. Keep in mind recognition and respect for diversity, but realise that you may not get quality photos that capture diversity and inclusion at your community events. You may need to give guidelines to photographers.
  • Alcohol free and family-friendly event-make sure your advertising is clear about the nature of your event, if you plan a family event or an event targeted at young people.
  • Speakers-you might also seek some ideas and recommendations for good speakers and good storytellers. It is crucial that speakers capture the audience's interest. Your community might contain some captivating speakers known to specific groups rather than being a known local community identity.
  • Young people-remember to include young people.

Space and cultural differences - issues of space and arrangement
The physical set-up of an event can be crucial to its success (see Resource four-Inclusive catering). Invite people, including volunteers, from a variety of cultures to assist with creating a suitable layout at the chosen venue.

Consider the many possible acknowledgements, and select what is appropriate:

  • the acknowledgement of country
  • the recognition of diversity
  • affirmation of Australia (including  the Affirmation Ceremony)
  • recognition of generosity of spirit (some people have come to live in Australia after trauma and experiences of oppression war and extreme poverty)
  • recognition of resilience
  • recognition of conflicted loyalties
  • recognition and acknowledgement that events and strategies in the past have not been positive for all.