: Community action

2015 Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia Conference

Last week on Thursday and Friday, the 5-6th of November, the 2015 FECCA National Conference took place in Sydney. FECCA, the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia, is the peak national body representing Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The two-day conference brought hundreds of leading decision makers, scholars, and experts together, all with a collective desire to debate and discuss key issues relating to multiculturalism.

It was positive to have our politicians cohesively acknowledge how a better embracement of multiculturalism will lead to a better future for all Australians. Senator the Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells acknowledged how important it is for Australians to recognise our country’s history of successful migration and how this is a legacy worth protecting. The Hon Tanya Plibersek addressed the tokenistic manner in which multiculturalism is often highlighted, and how “multiculturalism is more than the ethnic food festivals and parades” it is so often limited to. Senator Richard Di Natale confronted how the government cannot support multiculturalism through policy yet repeal s18C of the Anti-Discrimination Act and “open the floodgates to racism”. By our political parties dismissing their governmental differences in order to show a united front in the name of multiculturalism shows a common interest by our democratic leaders in the face of racial discrimination, and how important the issue of racism is to our parliamentary leaders.

The conference held concurrent forums on key issues related to multiculturalism such as equity in disability, productivity through diversity, cyber racism, and multicultural broadcasting and communications. In the forum addressing ‘The Cultural Dividend of Multiculturalism”, Ross Tzannes AM cited Anne Phillip’s quote “Harm could come to our minority groups if we trivialise their culture”, and noted how cultural diversity in the workplace is often paraded around as a marketing tool, without recognising the intrinsic value cultural diversity has in itself. Liz Deep-Jones also explored the idea of multiculturalism in the workplace. Having over twenty years experience at SBS, Liz brought up to the discussion how integral it was for her workplace of the media, in particular, to bring education of other cultures to the forefront of broadcasting. Liz expressed how Australia is a country so rich in diversity, we are able to put on shows such as Living Black, or a news program addressing Chinese Australians that is spoken in Manderin but with English subtitles, to be as inclusive as possible.

In “Enabling Better Health”, key scholars and medical practitioners brought together their unique experience and knowledge of how minority groups often struggle to get access to the Australian healthcare system. Dr. Sara Javanparast expressed her disdain at the resistance of general practitioners to using interpreting services to fully engage migrants with our healthcare system. This apprehension of interpreting services was also of concern to Rosemarie Draper, who has taken action addressing this problem with a health literacy approach. Rosemarie represented the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), and showed how the RDNS has created unique talking books that take all cultural diversities into consideration. For example, their talking book on Type 2 Diabetes in Vietnamese is freely available on the RDNS’ website, and provides both written and audible health information in Vietnamese at the equivalent of an English grade 6 level, in order to be more inclusive of the community.

Many more forums were held addressing key areas that have felt the impact and influence of multiculturalism, and all the speakers at the conference agreed that multiculturalism is the necessary narrative for the future of Australia. The conference ended on a positive note, with the 2014 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations, Laura John, concluding the forum with some personal accounts of her own experiences that led to her personal understanding of what multiculturalism means. The 2015 FECCA conference was an irrefutable success, and All Together Now can’t thank FECCA Chair Joe Caputo OAM for bringing these creative and scholarly minds together to collaborate and discuss the possibilities the lie ahead for the Australian community.

Interview with L-Fresh the Lion

All Together Now was lucky enough to catch up with one of our ambassadors, L-Fresh the Lion, who has been a trailblazer for social justice in the hip-hop music scene. Natalia spoke to L-Fresh not only about how he got into the hip-hop industry in the first place, but how he embraced his culture as a practicing Sikh into his music, and what his thoughts were on diversity in the entertainment industry in Australia.

 

TRANSCRIPT:

All Together Now: How do you express your cultural and ethnic identity through hip-hop? Do you think that music and hip-hop, particularly, is a universal platform that may be understood by everyone regardless of their cultural background or religion?

L-Fresh the Lion: Hip-hop music and hip-hop culture in general, I think, is one of those beautiful things which goes beyond the barriers of race, class, gender, politics and any type of inequality, and becomes a force that brings people together in a positive way. In terms of my cultural identity, I think that this is an inevitable part of me that comes across everything that I do without having me to think about it. This is so much a part of who I am from the formation of my values to more notably in my appearance as I am a practicing Sikh. So, you know, culture is there in everything that I do.

All Together Now: Are you keen to express your views on racism in your lyrics? What motivates you to speak up?

L-Fresh the Lion: I’ve been thinking about it since the first time I wrote my lyrics, when I was a 14-years-old teenager in high school. The first thing I ever wrote was called ‘World of Discrimination’, talking about my experience with racism. So, it started from the very beginning. I think it was one of the core things that brought me to a space where I felt like I needed to write music. Again, it’s one of those things that influenced me in that I was raised by my parents and by those around me to be a vocal and active member of society, to be someone who is interested in not only uplifting those around me in the community, but also to be a positive force in a world. I feel that it’s my duty to use this platform, to be able to develop life through the music, and positively contribute to the world around me. Moreover, one of those things that I am obviously talking about is my experience with racism. And I think it is still here, because this is a very prominent issue in our society today.

All Together Now: Why did you join All Together Now? What led you here?

L-Fresh the Lion: All Together Now is the only organization existing in a 24/7 basis in Australia, which calls to address racism in a positive way. One of the important things I’ve seen All Together Now do is work with young people, while taking innovative approach to tackling racism. All Together Now makes people feel like they are active participants in creating a better society. That was important for me not only personally, but also because regardless of what I was doing, or speaking about, I was always trying to find a way to address this problem. When I found All Together Now operating in that space and I heard about their projects, I wanted to be involved and be able to help them and to make contributions.

All Together Now: How much is the spirit of multiculturalism felt in the underground hip-hop community? Is this community open to everyone who is willing to join it?

L-Fresh the Lion: Hip-hop since its inception is in America, but also in Australia has been very multicultural. Some of the first people who operated in the space of hip-hop in Australia came from all worlds of life. From the perspective of the present, contemporary hip-hop is on the level where you have people from diverse backgrounds, operating in this space. This is because, like I mentioned earlier, hip-hop erases all those barriers that tend to differentiate us as human beings. So, it’s a very multicultural space that often doesn’t get reflected in mainstream media. That’s because we have issues in the entertainment industry as a whole, which haven’t been spoken about quite extensively. Most recently it was discussed, I think on Sunrise, there was debate about the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry and, more specifically, on TV. Lack of diversity is something that is prevalent in all entertainment industries in Australia. But the roots of this problem are on a community level. That is what people don’t see unless they are active participants in hip-hop. Hip-hop is very, very diverse.

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All Together Now: Do you have a big dream? What is that?

L-Fresh the Lion: Wow (laughing), I have lots of dreams. I suppose, it depends on context, you know, because I have dreams in a variety of different aspects in my life. If we are talk about dreams on my personal level, I have dreams in terms of what family I would like to build, or dreams about music. But I also have dreams about what I would like to see in politics, or what I would like to see in the world. I think, those things are important, and I want to share these dreams with people. I would like to see a country that could be an example of a space of values. I’d love to see the dominant culture in Australia becomes one of welcome, one of love and compassion, and one of valuing all human lives equally, and not some more than others.

I would like to see these dreams not just be reflected on a theoretical level, but enforced on a practical level. To ensure that inequality is addressed, we firstly have to begin with the inequality gap between Indigenous Australians and the rest of the community, as well as looking at the gender inequality between Australian men and women. The discussion of inequality is also raised when we are talking about the way we treat asylum seekers and refugees, and migrants in general in the context of race. I think these are all things that come down to the culture we live in, especially when we don’t have a dominant culture that consists of positive values. I would like to see Australia leading in that space of positive values. It is a dream that I have to speak out about, because Australia could be a leading example of positive racial culture and show this to the rest of the world, so that they can follow.

All Together Now: What do you consider makes a person a ‘Real Australian’?

L-Fresh the Lion: I think the answer to this question is something that I have been looking for my whole life. Been born in Australia, in South-West Sydney, and growing up here for a long period of time, and even to this day at some point, I’ve been made to question myself. People have questioned how Australian I am, because I don’t look like what people would consider an average Australian to look like. I look culturally different. So, I’ve been looking for that answer for a long, long time, because at what point can we collectively determine who is and who isn’t an Australian?

You know, I think, that the answer is obvious when you ask does the person have an Australian passport, or is that person an Australian citizen. But when you enter the term ‘Real Australian’ that makes things much, much more complicated. ‘Real’ becomes a question mark. How can we determine it? I think some important questions come with this word and we need to think about it. I don’t think that I have as an individual the sole power to determine who is or who isn’t a ‘Real Australian’. And I think that it’s a collective conversation that needs to be held one day so that Australia can have a discussion on race from a power and structural frame of mind.

Courtesy of Michelle Grace Hunder

Courtesy of Michelle Grace Hunder

 

Find out more about L-Fresh the Lion here.

L-Fresh the Lion was also featured on Pro Bono here.

Harmony is the Tune of the Day

Harmony Day intends to encourage messages of inclusion by adopting the approach of everyone identifying and then celebrating their ethnic and cultural heritage. This year’s theme of Everyone Belongs, was an important message to send.

On Harmony Day this year there was one particular event which I attended that really spoke of inclusion and exemplified this year’s theme that ‘everyone belongs’. It was, interestingly enough, a Hip Hop festival designed for all age groups that took place in Bankstown, New South Wales.

The 4Elements HipHop All-Ages Festival (which is set to run again during Youth Week in April) was designed to bring people of all-ages and ethnic and cultural heritages to embrace unity and acceptance as well as awareness of the socio-political climate in Australia (particularly in Western Sydney). Hip Hop became the platform and framework by which to discuss all of these elements as it is inherently a musical form about acceptance, belonging and harmony.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Images: (left to right) Matuse; Little Hunta; Munk of Renegades of Munk; Brotha Black.

What does this event signify?

This event highlights that multiculturalism is not always about highlighting how many different cultures are in Australia, the different dress, the different food or the different language, but it runs deeper. When differences no longer matter and interaction is based on the sole purpose of enjoying culture (no matter which one) with other human beings, then multiculturalism is working.

Multiculturalism is a continually evolving concept and without discussion cannot progress. One of the most engaging parts of the Hip Hop festival was not its gallery, live street art or live performances but the Industry Panel discussion on racism, ethnicity, multiculturalism, transnationalism and the relevance of youth movements. This is a key highlight as it is part of the building blocks for multiculturalism and harmony. Social conversation needs to be conducted if the negative aspects in society are to be recognized. For without this recognition the concept of everyone belonging cannot truly be attained. This where the essence of Harmony Day must exist if we are to dance to the tune of belonging.

Seen (left to right): Industry Panel: John Khilla aka Dj MK1, Dr. Rebecca Sheehan and Dr. Omid Tofighian; Vyvienne Abla, Event Director of Vyva Entertainment; right, Rob Scott, Source Music and Tim Caroll, Director of BYDS. 

All Images Courtesy of Chris Woe Photography.

Where does Racism occur?

Do you know where racism occurs?

All Together Now has created an infographic to show the most common areas where racism happens. This information is based on research that looked into the different experiences of racism in Victoria within culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD) – if you’d like to know more about this report, click here.

WheredoesRacismoccur

As you can see, racism occurs in a range of public and private spaces. However, it’s up to you to help stop racism where and when it occurs. For more tips, visit our infographic on Witnessing Racism on the Bus and learn how to stand up to racism by clicking here. However, not all racism is obvious – find out more about casual racism so that you can help put a stop to racism in all its different forms.

What are your thoughts on these statistics?

 

 

Creative Commons License Where does Racism occur? by All Together Now is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Information courtesy of: Ferdinand A, Kelaher M & Paradies Y 2013. ‘Mental health impacts of racial discrimination in Victorian culturally and linguistically diverse communities: Full report.’ Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. Melbourne, Australia.

You are welcome to download (JPEG) and print this infographic providing you observe this license.

All Together Now is a not-for-profit organisation. If you have found this infographic useful, please make a donation of $25 to help us continue to create more like this one.

Harmony Week 2015: How will you celebrate Australia’s diversity?

Harmony Week begins March 16 to 22 this year, and is a national week that celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity, encouraging acceptance all around the nation. The aim of the week is to promote intercultural understanding and peace, with the slogan ‘Everybody Belongs’ embodying the message of Harmony Week.

Such festivities allow us to recognise the importance of tolerance and Harmony Week acts as a reminder of the many advantages of multiculturalism that have shaped our nation. It is about community participation, inclusiveness, diversity, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. Harmony Week is a way to build understanding and acceptance, which are stepping-stones to an Australia without discrimination.

Each year, there are a number of activities you can participate in during Harmony Week. These include:

1. Taste of Harmony

Taste of Harmony is a delicious way to celebrate diversity in Australian workplaces. Through this initiative, colleagues are encouraged to bring food to share, along with stories from different cultural backgrounds.

There’s no fundraising or fee involved – simply register online, choose a date within Harmony Week and ask your workmates to bring a dish to share!

2. Recipes for Harmony

Similar to Taste of Harmony, Recipes for Harmony encourages groups to bring together cultural recipes and dishes – but this time, for children!

This program is both interactive and educational, and brings together for children a range of online resources featuring recipes, personal stories and cultural profiles. Children are introduced to a world – literally, a world – of stories and recipes. Again, make sure you register online in order to receive the resources and promotional products.

3. ‘Living in Harmony Festival’ – Sydney

Held from March 1 to March 31, the Living in Harmony Festival is an annual festival that promotes cross-cultural understanding and celebrates diversity within Sydney. Ranging from afternoon tea events to talent shows and to film screenings, the festival acknowledges the multiculturalism that abounds within Sydney.

There are activities for people of all ages, so be sure to check it out! The full guide is available for download here.

4. Harmony Day

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Harmony Day, and is typically celebrated on March 21. Harmony Day is a chance for you to bring people together. If you would like to participate, you must plan an event, register it and then share it on social media, using the #harmonyday. Each year, Harmony Day is marked by people coming together and participating in local activities, ranging from a small morning tea or a huge community event. Don’t be afraid to be creative!

Will you be celebrating Harmony Week this year? And if so, how? Let us know in the comments below!

10 Ways to Join the Movement for Racial Equality

As we work towards racial equality in Australia, All Together Now has put together a list of 10 tips to help people who are new to the movement for racial equality in Australia.

1. Understand what racism is

It is important to understand what racism is so that you are able to recognise it in different social situations. By understanding it, you can learn to prevent it, thereby reducing its presence in your life. To learn more about what racism is, visit our FAQ page.

2. Know the consequences of racism 

Once you understand what racism is, learn about the consequences of racism. Children in particular are vulnerable to the effects of racism, so the more you know, the more you can help. Check out our infographics on How Racism Affects Kids as well as Racism in Australian Schools, or visit our Racism page.

3. Speak out against overt or everyday racism

If you witness overt or casual racism, whether it is on public transport or in a private setting, always speak out against it. For more tips on how to speak out on public transport, take a look at our infographic.

Photo courtesy of: Rob Leeson/Herald Sun

Photo courtesy of: Rob Leeson/Herald Sun

4. Join the online conversation

The Internet is a great place to share your attitudes against racism with others, as well as to contribute to engaging discussions. It is a platform for you to be part of a national community who is working towards the common goal of racial equality. Join All Together Now on Facebook and Twitter to be part of our online conversation.

5. Be informed 

If you are informed about social issues, then you will be able to communicate factually correct and interesting information to others, thereby helping them gain a better understanding of the world around them. Do not spread false or assumed information about other cultures – it will reflect poorly on you. You can stay up-to-date with the latest news and events about racism in Australia by signing up to our email newsletter.

6. Avoid stereotyping others

You might think that stereotypes are funny, but in reality, they’re more harmful than you think. Stereotypes are difficult to change, and they also show your own ignorance, so avoiding them is the best way to go! To learn more about casual racism, click here

7. Be tactful 

When approaching others about the issue of racism, always be careful. You don’t want to provoke someone by denying them their chance to speak. Listen to what other people have to say first, and you might be able to see the basis of their prejudice – something that you can put right! Ask open-ended questions to create an engaging and constructive conversation that can help change someone’s perceptions of others. 

8. Use dissonance to help inspire others

Dissonance refers to that uncomfortable feeling that emerges when you realise that two or more of your ideas or beliefs are incompatible. This can be a great way to show others that they might need to rethink their attitudes. For example, someone who claims to believe in equality for all might also have negative prejudiced attitudes towards a minority group. This leads to a discrepancy in their words and their actions. It’s up to you to show them this incongruence, which may allow them to realise their mistake. Approach the topic with caution though – don’t attack someone for making an honest mistake!

9. Show empathy

Displaying empathy towards others by putting yourself in their shoes can help both you and them to overcome racial stigma. Empathy is one of our most powerful tools, so make sure you use it to help others. Play our app to immerse yourself in someone else’s world.

10. Support the movement

At All Together Now, we’re striving to make Australia a place of equality. If you would like to contribute to our cause, please make a donation so that we can continue our work.

What do you think? What are some other tips that you recommend for the movement for racial equality?