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JCCV & EECV working towards Victoria's Next Cultural Diversity Model

JCCV & EECV working towards Victoria's Next Cultural Diversity Model

14 October 2010

Together with other Victorian Jewish organisations, the JCCV took an active role in the recent annual conference of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV).

President of the JCCV, John Searle, said “as an integral member of the ECCV, the JCCV is duty bound to participate and it is critical that our community be involved.  This event provides the opportunity to examine the many issues that affect Victoria’s culturally diverse community.”

Unfortunately, however, 2010 is an election year in Victoria.  I say “unfortunately” because too much time was devoted to representatives of the Government, Opposition and the Greens telling a captive audience about their dedication to multiculturalism and what they would do to further it if (re-)elected.

The JCCV acknowledges the commitment of Victoria’s major parties to multiculturalism and also that Victoria unquestionably is the benchmark State in this regard.  However the audience was composed almost entirely of workers in the field who are very knowledgeable about the issues and hence who shouldn’t have to spend valuable time listening to election promises.  Of interest to our community, however, was acting Premier Rob Hulls’ announcement that the Victorian Government will provide an additional $50,000 to the ECCV to establish the Walter Lippman, the founding chair of the ECCV and a prominent member of Victoria’s Jewish community, Memorial Lecture Series to enable speakers to share their knowledge and thoughts on multiculturalism.  It is of value that the JCCV has been asked to partner the ECCV in this project.

Of considerably greater interest than the political addresses were the keynote address and later panels and workshops on a range of themes.

CEO of VicHealth, Todd Harper provided the former, speaking on ‘Multicultural Victoria: Who benefits? Whose responsibility?’  He noted that many believe that multiculturalism is good only for those from Indigenous and culturally and linguistic diverse background.  This occurs in a range of ways, including health, human rights and for social and economic wellbeing. However multiculturalism can benefit us all, contributing to productivity and economic growth and to intellectual, social and cultural capital. Given this, it follows that harnessing Victoria’s diversity is the responsibility of the entire Victorian community and is an undertaking from which we all can benefit.

Mr Harper’s presentation was followed by five individual panels with JCCV president John Searle representing Victoria’s Jewish community in the discussion entitled ‘Social Cohesion: Fighting racism and discrimination’.  Of particular interest to me was ‘Interpreting & Translating: Is major change overdue?’,  a subject I shamefully know very little about and which clearly demonstrated that all is not well in this field.  For further information on the panels and other aspects of the conference link to http://eccv.org.au/; this information will be up by the end of October.

For me the conference was, as is so often the case, a mixed bag.  Some important conversations, some new information gleaned, some inspiration provided and of course the opposite of these.  What was very interesting was the sub-text:  the clear belief of practitioners that cultural diversity is fragile and at the continuing mercy of racist elements in society.  In this context I refer interested readers to the Scanlon Foundation’s 2010 update on ‘Mapping Social Cohesion’ by Professor Andrew Markus at http://www.globalmovements.monash.edu.au/socialcohesion/scanlon.php, essential reading on this subject. .

Geoffrey Zygier
JCCV Executive Director

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