AfREC members have participated in a public panel discussion on the theme of ‘So what do we mean by multiculturalism anyway?’, convened at UWA on 21 March 2019, Harmony Day—marking the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination—which is part of WA’s Harmony Week series of activities.
The panel was co-convened by the UWA Alumni, the UWA CaLD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) Inclusion and Diversity Working Group and the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, the latter of which also served as the venue. The Panel was moderated by AfREC Member Fadzi Whande, who is also UWA Manager of Diversity and Inclusion and Australia Day Ambassador for Western Australia. Panellists included AfREC Research Fellow A/Prof. Farida Fozdar, Chair of the UWA CaLD Working Group, and Dr Muza Gondwe, AfREC Industry Coordinator.
Other panellists included Saleem Al Odeh, UWA engineering student and Ethnocultural Convenor for the UWA Guild of Students; James Jegasothy, Director Community Engagement & Strategy, Office of Multicultural Interests, WA government; and Tyson McEwan, a UWA Law and Society student and Co-founder of Sense of Direction.
The panel, which was unfortunately set against the backdrop of the white supremacist terrorist attack on the Muslim community in New Zealand the week prior, canvassed a range of important issues including alternative definitions and interpretations of the concept of multiculturalism, attitudes towards multiculturalism in Australian society, experiences of exclusion and inclusion by migrants in Australia, the role of education in promoting cultural engagement, the role of government policy in facilitating a multicultural society, the impact of historical legacies on contemporary multiculturalism, the relationship between Indigenous Australians and migrants, and many other issues, followed by engagement with the audience. Participants had earlier been asked to write down three words that best captured the meaning of the concept of multiculturalism for them.
AfREC would like to congratulate the organisers for convening this important panel discussion and commend them for the high quality of the contributions by panellists.
Held every year on 21 March, Harmony Day celebrates Australian multiculturalism within the community. Coinciding with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Harmony Day is about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values. The UN IDERD has its origins in the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in Apartheid South Africa. In 2019, the theme of the UN IDERD is “Mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies”. The International Day is also linked with the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024.