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THE Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) has pledged its support on an issue that knows no cultural boundaries - family violence.

VMC Commissioner Dr Mimmie Claudine Ngum Chi Watts joined the City of Greater Dandenong’s Councillors, former Labor Politician Rob Hulls and other speakers for the Greater Dandenong Walk Against Family Violence on 24 November 2015.

The third annual Greater Dandenong White Ribbon Day walk invited members of the community to stand together against family violence.

Australia’s 2012 Personal Safety Survey reported that from the age of 15, around one in three women has experienced physical violence and almost one in five has experienced sexual violence.

Family violence does not discriminate. Women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds report similar forms of violence to other women in the community.

However, some forms of family violence are specific to some cultures, particularly dowry-associated violence, forced marriage, honour killings and female genital mutilation.

Women from diverse backgrounds are also more likely to experience violence from their extended family, community members or because of the uncertainties about their migration status.

Factors such as social isolation, language barriers, a lack of information about their rights, the absence of support networks and socio-economic disadvantage can all heighten their vulnerability to violence and impede their access to support.

Aligned with the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022, preventing and reducing family violence in our diverse communities is a priority for the VMC. 

In June 2015, the VMC made a submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence drawing on the findings from consultations with women from diverse communities, peak bodies and service providers.

VMC Chairperson Helen Kapalos said the submission highlighted some of the difficulties experienced by women from diverse backgrounds.

“We know from speaking directly with women from our diverse communities that they experience a range of cultural and language barriers in recognising and reporting family violence.

“The Commission is strongly committed to helping women overcome these barriers and ensuring they have access to information and appropriate services,” said Ms Kapalos.

The VMC aims to tackle the issue by collaborating directly with Victoria’s diverse communities to develop strategies and initiatives that educate, raise awareness and begin to transform attitudes.

“By working together, we can raise awareness of the issue in a meaningful way and support the role of men across all cultures and faiths to create positive change,” said Ms Kapalos.

Click below to read more and find out about supporting White Ribbon Day and ending violence against women.

Young leaders find waves of belonging

WATER brings new life, and it can also build a powerful sense of belonging.

After their families fled their homelands to make a life in Australia, three young people made water the driver of their journey to belong in Australia.

For the past seven years, Life Saving Victoria’s Multicultural Settlement Program has aimed to prevent deaths and improve settlement experiences by encouraging young refugees, new arrivals, international students and migrants to take leadership on water safety and swimming.

A new video takes us through the personal growth of these three, young and inspiring community role models, Imtiyaz Saberi, Mi and Soo Hlaing Pethan.

For Imtiyaz, volunteering as a life saver and working as a Pool Lifeguard at Dandenong Oasis, has been a major factor in developing his confidence.

“For me to open up, for me to speak to people, they are skills I’ve gained from life saving,” he said.

Imtiyaz said these skills have driven his motivation to go back to university and study. He has already graduated with a diploma and now plans to apply for a Bachelor degree.

Since 2006, almost 13,000 people from culturally and linguistically diverse  backgrounds have participated in the program, which aims to prevent 20 per cent of drowning deaths in Victoria that have historically involved refugees, new arrivals and international students.

Imtiyaz said the participation of young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds fosters greater compassion and respect in the wider community, an important factor for bringing cultures and communities closer together.

Click below to watch the full video or read more in Life Saving Victoria’s program brochure.

(Pictured: Imtiyaz Saberi. Image courtesy of Life Saving Victoria)

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VMC Chair shares big ideas on social unity

VMC CHAIRPERSON Helen Kapalos delivered a thought-provoking lecture about social cohesion in Victoria and the role of young people as the true guardians of lasting change on Monday 16 November 2015.

Speaking at the iconic Big Ideas under the Dome lecture series at the State Library Victoria, Ms Kapalos discussed why the VMC is leading a conversation about the need for social unity at a time when our cohesion is under threat.

She drew from academics and commentators to explain how an increase in social fragmentation and a rise in individualism has created a negative social narrative that can leave some culturally diverse members of the community feeling socially isolated.

Ms Kapalos highlighted that the solution lies in fostering a sense of belonging among all Victorians.

“Every Victorian has the right to belong - as an individual and as part of our community - to express their religious and cultural diversity, and to feel safe doing so,” she said.

Firmly believing in the role of young people to achieve this, Ms. Kapalos shared findings from recent VMC youth forums which clearly showed that young Victorians have a strong desire to contribute to social harmony.

“Young people appear to be more accepting of our increasingly diverse community,” she said.

According to recent research by the Scanlon Foundation, 65 per cent of young Victorians favour the provision of government assistance to ethnic minorities to maintain their customs and traditions, compared to just 34 per cent of middle aged respondents.

“We plan to focus on engaging our youth, to listen and accurately capture their voices and help them reach their potential in leading a greater understanding between cultures,” said Ms Kapalos.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Kapalos reiterated the words of anthropologist Margaret Mead to express the power of small groups to achieve a more inclusive society.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Ms Kapalos’ 30 minute lecture was followed by a Q&A session hosted by Walkley Award winning journalist, Jill Singer.

Click below to watch the full lecture in video.

Pictured, Left to Right: State Library Victoria CEO Kate Torney, VMC Chairperson Helen Kapalos and award-winning journalist Jill Singer. Image courtesy of State Library, photograph by Teagan Glenane.

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Asylum seeker stories to change minds

ASYLUM seekers risk their lives in the pursuit of freedom, but often, the real journey begins after they settle in a new country.

A new documentary film, Freedom Stories, reveals the unique journey of 17 asylum seekers who arrived in Australia around 2001.

Originally from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, the documentary participants were aged between seven and 30 years at the start of their journey.

The film, to be aired at the Sun Theatre in Yarraville on Thursday 26 November and at St Mary’s Hall on Friday 27 November in Woodend, follows their inspirational journeys through detention, release and citizenship to give a genuine insight into what it’s like starting a new life in a new country

Director Steve Thomas said he wanted to make a film that invites audiences to make up their own minds by listening to the voices that are often missing from the debate.

One participant, Mustafa Jawadi, 24, was just seven years old when his family escaped war-torn Afghanistan. He is now in his final year as an apprentice motor mechanic and wants to run his own garage

He hopes the documentary will give people a better understanding of the plight of refugees and demonstrate how asylum seekers and refugees can make a positive contribution to Australia.

“We come from a background where we work hard to become someone. We see this as an opportunity, a higher opportunity to get somewhere,” he said.

The event in Yarraville is also a fundraiser for the Hobsons Bay Refugee Network and West Welcome Wagon.

For more information click on the link below.

Pictured: Mustafa Jawadi and friend. Image courtesy of Flying Carpet Films.

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Grants and funding

Community Grants Update
THE Victorian Government is consolidating and streamlining grant programs in the Multicultural Affairs portfolio to better meet the needs of the community.

It is anticipated that a number of these new grant programs will open soon.  Information sessions will be held in November 2015 to communicate more detailed information.

Please check the website regularly for updates. Information will also be sent out via the fortnightly VMC E News update.

To receive this bulletin please email: info@vmc.vic.gov.au to have your name added to the subscriber list.

There are currently no community grant programs open for applications.

Further enquiries regarding community grants can be directed to community.grants@dpc.vic.gov.au or call 1300 366 356.

Recent Grant Programs

Applications for Senior Citizens Organisational Support Grants are now closed.

Applications for Multicultural Media Grants are now closed.

Forthcoming Grant Programs

Multicultural Festivals and Events Program is anticipated to open later in 2015 (this includes the grant program formerly known as Unity through Partnerships).

The Community Infrastructure and Cultural Precincts Program is anticipated to open later in 2015 for small capital infrastructure projects.

Promoting Community Harmony Program is anticipated to open early in 2016 (this includes the grant programs formerly known as Promoting Community Harmony and Multifaith and Interfaith Initiatives).

The Capacity Building and Participation Program is anticipated to open in early 2016 (this includes the grant programs formerly known as: Strengthening Multicultural Communities; Organisational Support Grants; Community Language Schools Program Grants; Refugee Action Program and Asylum Seeker Support Program).

For more information about the Community Grants Program click here

Events Calendar

Multicultural or mainstream? - 26 November

Helen Kapalos starts a new conversation about multiculturalism.


State of Culture 2015 - 26 November

Listen to the best of multicultural spoken word at this artistic showcase.

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German Christmas Market - 28 November

Enjoy the taste of a traditional German Christmas market.

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Mapping Melbourne - 2-5 December

Savour a unique festival of multi-artform events celebrating Asia.

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African Music and Cultural Festival - 12 December

Federation Square is transformed into Africa for this one-day festival.

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Community Noticeboard
Ethnic Business Awards

A FAMILY who fled war-torn Lebanon to create a new life in Australia has taken out one of the top prizes at the Ethnic Business Awards.

The prestigious awards held recently in Adelaide are one of Australia’s longest running national business awards programs, which recognise the achievements and entrepreneurialism of Australia’s migrant communities.

The founder and Chairperson of the awards, Mr Joseph Assaf AM, said the awards aim to promote an awareness of the economic contribution of migrant communities, the benefits their business endeavours bring to the broader Australian community and the potential for harmony.

“We all have the responsibility of sharing and celebrating our many differences and of working together to build a great and harmonious multicultural society,” said Mr Assaf.

The awards are comprised of three categories – Small Business, Medium to Large Business and Indigenous in Business.

Joseph Kairouz, who won the Medium to Large Business category, started out working with his brother in the meat industry to support their 10 siblings.

Today, Cedar Meats Australia, based in Brooklyn, Victoria, employs more than 400 people, exporting to the US, EU and China.

“Multiculturalism is not a passing fancy. It is not a hobby. It is not a government policy. It is not just a ‘nice thing to do’ or a marketing opportunity. Multiculturalism is a way of life - these awards celebrate all of that,” said Mr Assaf.

Each winner takes home a hand-crafted crystal trophy and a $10,000 cheque from the National Australia Bank.

To find out more click on the link below.

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Youth employment survey

THE Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) has launched a new survey to find out more about the employment experiences of young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

Results from the survey will be used by CMY to better understand and improve employment support for young people from diverse backgrounds.

Survey participants who respond by Tuesday 1 December will go into the draw to win a $200 gift voucher. The survey is confidential and will not identify respondents in any way.

Recent research undertaken by CMY revealed that humanitarian migrants have the highest unemployment rate of all the migration categories, and a significant proportion of these are young people.

It is critical that the right level of support is made available to young people of refugee and migrant backgrounds and that appropriate systems are in place to facilitate their transition into Australia.

CMY has a range of programs designed to assist young people to find and sustain employment and education, which the survey will help to develop.

Click on the link below to have your say or to help distribute the survey.

Forty Acts of Remembering

A NEW art exhibition marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War (1955-1975).

Forty Acts of Remembering is a moving artistic collaboration by three Vietnamese Australian artists, My Le Thi, Minh Phan and Khue Nguyen, who together explore the themes of space, time and tradition.

On display at the Steps Gallery in Carlton from 9-16 December, this free exhibition features a variety of art mediums including drawing, painting, installation, video and performance to express the artist’s reflections on commemorating the anniversary of the War.

The artists examine the alternate lives they experienced due to the events of the war, and now, 40 years on from this historical event, how their separate histories have converged and what the next 40 years may look like.

All three artists arrived in Australia in the 1980s and have used their own personal experiences of migration and displacement to inform their artwork.

Khue Nguyen became the first Vietnamese-Australian artist to become a finalist in the auspicious Archibald Prize in 2010, with his self-portrait Unleashed.

Presented by Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) this exhibition is proudly supported by the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Click on the link below for more information.

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Big West Festival

MELBOURNE’S west has opened its doors to one of the biggest multicultural community festivals in Victoria.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Big West Festival runs from 20-28 November in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

The festival, held biennially, features around 70 multicultural, multiplatform events, most of which are FREE.

This year’s theme is inspired by sharing the internal and external world of residency.

“A number of artists were inspired to explore the inner and outer world [of] HOUSE – our HOUSE is now your HOUSE,” said Big West’s Artistic Director, Marcia Ferguson.

Artists have made their own mobile art galleries and performance spaces and have turned theatres into houses and houses into theatres.

Festival goers are encouraged to come along and play with angels and man-rabbits, be immersed in industrial soundscapes of sirens and massed choirs, see a show in a wardrobe and a whole house seemingly fallen from the sky.

Click on the link below for the full festival program.

If you would like to know more about the festival program and English is not your first language you can call the Festival Telephone Interpreter Service on 131 450 and request them to call Maribyrnong Council on 9688 0200 for assistance.


Volunteer Grants 2015 – Now Open|

THE Australian Government is encouraging community organisations to apply for a grant to support the work of their volunteers.

Community organisations can apply for grants of up to $5,000 for a wide variety of activities, including purchasing small items of equipment that assist volunteers, fuel and transport costs incurred by volunteers, training courses and background checks.

Organisations can apply for Volunteer Grants  under the Strengthening Communities – Volunteering sub-activity category of the Australian Government Grants.

To be eligible, applicants must provide enough information about the organisation to demonstrate that they are an Australian not-for-profit entity.

Applications are open now and will close at 2.00pm AEDT on Wednesday 9 December 2015.

Funding is expected to be offered to around 5,700 organisations with grants to be paid by 30 June 2016.

For more information click on the link below.

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Feedback and contribute

We love to hear your comments on how we can improve our communication with you. To send us your thoughts please email info@vmc.vic.gov.au.

If you would like to register your community event with us, please email us and we will add it to our online Community Noticeboard and Events Calendar. Selected listings will be included in the VMC Update each fortnight.


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