Additional Issues: African Australians - Compendium (2010)
2010 - African Australians: human rights and social inclusion issues project
A compendium detailing the outcomes of the community and stakeholder consultations and interviews and public submissions
10 Additional issues
10.1 Cultural maintenance, cultural heritage and values
Note: In addition to the general community focus group, a specific consultation workshop was conducted in partnership with Multicultural Arts
Victoria involving MAV staff and five African Australian artists. The outcomes of the workshop are set out separately at the end of this section.
Issues relating to cultural maintenance, cultural heritage and values were addressed by around one quarter (23%) of the submissions.
Multiculturalism recognises the right of all Australians to enjoy their ethnic identity and cultural heritage, including language and religion, and the
right to equal treatment and opportunities regardless of their backgrounds.
Discussions relating to the theme of maintenance of culture, cultural heritage and cultural values featured consistently in most of the community
consultations. Participants overwhelmingly emphasised the importance of retaining their links with each other and their culture, religion, values and
Overall, the key issues raised by community participants included:
- African cultures are diverse and reflect a wide range of values and behaviours
- African cultures are often represented in negative and stereotyped ways as uncivil or third world
- there is a need to ensure that there are rights around culture and cultural practices where this is aligned with broader Australian laws
- the preservation of cultural diversity and cultural heritage are crucial components of the settlement process and social inclusion generally
- African Australian Muslim women experience particular challenges in trying to maintain cultural and religious values, particularly in relation
to dress code.
- culture and cultural and religious practices for many in the community are vital to survival and are the lifeblood of the community
- the retention of cultural family values was regarded as vital to keeping families connected and healthy
- while culture and cultural values should be protected, there is a corresponding need to recognise that some practices that are sanctioned by
tradition could be in conflict with human rights
- the role of African organisations and other grassroots/representative African groups/bodies play a vital role in the maintenance of culture
within the context of Australian society
- the Australian community could benefit from more cultural exchanges with African Australians
- mainstream media (professionals and content) should be more reflective of cultural diversity
- children and young people may experience particular challenges in trying to negotiate between cultures and cultural frameworks
- language is intrinsic to the expression of culture. First language maintenance should be actively supported and promoted and benefits to
improved learning should be emphasised
- linguistic diversity should be viewed as an asset
- creative arts is increasingly regarded as a method of participation and inclusion - interactions also build social networks and reduce social
- engaging with creative arts has enabled young people to explore culture and identity in safe spaces
- music is an important part of the communities' intangible cultural heritage and preservation is essential
- the role of local government in the promotion of cultural diversity is significant.
(a) African cultures are diverse and reflect a wide range of values and behaviours
Most respondents stressed the need to promote the message to the mainstream that Africans and African cultures are not homogenous, but extremely
diverse and varied:
"Africa has a massive diversity of ethnic groups and roughly about 2 000 different languages spoken in 53 countries. This diversity is very much
reflected here in Australia amongst the African Australians."
(Community respondent, Vic)
An example of the breadth of diversity is reflected in the annual Celebration African Cultures Festival held in Auburn, NSW. The event
promotes cross-cultural understating and community harmony within the new local African communities. It also strengthens the diversity of African
cultural heritage in the local area and promotes cultural diversity to the wider community. The event is a community initiative of the Somali Welfare
and Cultural Association and other key local organisations. The Festival brought together over 20 different African cultures to celebrate their
individual traditions, music, food, arts and crafts.
Despite the need to recognise levels of diversity within communities, there was, however, some discussion within several of the community focus groups,
around whether there were 'common' African 'values', with many agreeing that some of the following could be said to be broadly characteristic of most
African Australian communities:
- importance of family and the preservation of family values
- greater emphasis given to the collective rather than the individual as a whole - strong community bonds
- respect for elders where they are often asked for advice, families usually desire elders' approval for any major decision, elders also settle
- strong values and belief systems
- religion an important part of day to day life for many.
(b) the preservation of cultural diversity and cultural heritage are crucial components of the settlement process and social inclusion generally
Newly-arrived people of refugee background bring many experiences, qualities and skills to this country. Many African Australians believe that many of
their contributions have not been visible or utilised. Their wellbeing, their hopes and aspirations can only be realised if they are given the
opportunity to share the wealth of their cultures, their own skills and experiences so as to contribute to Australia's multicultural development.
An example was provided where collaboration between several services and members of newly-arrived communities resulted in the establishment of
important cultural development programs throughout which effective and successful settlement could be better supported.
The MRCSA with assistance from the Australia Council for the Arts, Arts SA, numerous local government councils, the Adelaide Festival
Centre, the SA School of Art, University of South Australia, private sponsorship and immense amounts of ongoing volunteer work by staff, and the
communities themselves use cultural development as an integral and critical component of their settlement program for newly-arrived people of refugee
The program is an example of one that supports new and emerging communities to engage in the arts through the development of their cultural
initiatives. Music, song, dance and craft events are supported through workshops, developmental activities and creative expression. Communities are
also assisted to link with mainstream arts organisations, venues and events so that they can develop their capacity to further their own training,
skills development and cultural activity.
(c) Culture and cultural and religious practices for many in the community are vital to survival and are the lifeblood of the community
Participation in cultural rituals that provide support and assign value and respect for a new mother may promote enhanced mental health during the
peri-natal period. Traditions often include ceremonies and celebrations in recognition of the role and importance of motherhood.
Within the context of cultural traditions there is a strong sense of community support for pregnant women:
"A pregnant woman in Ethiopia/Eritrea holds a great deal of respect and special standing in the community. Ethiopian society validates the important
role of motherhood."
(Community leader, Vic)
Women expressed anxiety, sadness and a sense of grief at being unable to undertake traditional rituals and ceremonies in Australia.
(d) The retention of cultural family values vital to keeping families connection and healthy
There are several aspects of cultural heritage and cultural values that African Australian parents said they wanted to be able to transmit to their
children. The foundation of values relating to the family environment is one arena in which parents said they have an important role to play.
The retention of family values was seen to be conducive to a harmonious family atmosphere and to contribute to successful settlement of the family
overall. For the overwhelming majority, intergenerational problems and other related adjustment difficulties and challenges within the family were the
direct result of inadequate support for the retention of family values.
(e) While culture and cultural values should be protected, there is a need to recognise that some practices that are sanctioned by tradition could
be in conflict with human rights
An example of a successful approach to using a strength based approach to culture was the initiative undertaken by the NSW FGM Program. This initiative grew out of suggestions from community representatives with the intent of celebrating what is good and strong in
cultural practices, and speaking out against the practices which adversely impact on the physical and mental health of girls and women and eventually
Over 350 women, who had no previous contact with the NSW FGM Program, from seven communities, responded to the invitation from bi-lingual community
workers to attend a series of "celebration and commitment to change" events.
During these events women examined the cultural practices across the globe which impact on women's mental and physical health, examined the teachings
from two faith groups on the traditional practice of FGM, the NSW legislation against the practice and the NSW Education Program on FGM program.
Several community members also reiterated the point that cultural diversity must exist within the Australian legal framework, and that some cultural
practices which might seem innocuous or irrelevant could in fact be breaking the law.
(f) The role of African organisations and other grassroots/representative African groups/bodies play a vital role in the maintenance of culture
within the context of Australian society
Overall, community respondents emphasised the significant role that grassroots ethno-specific African Australian organisations could play in supporting
newly-arrived African Australians in settling successfully in Australia. A particular approach that many of these organisations have used is a
strength-based approach to culture and cultural diversity.
Participants made reference to a number of African organisations who were actively engaged in promoting culture and cultural resilience. These groups
organise a range of cultural events, including:
African Women's Group NSW - African Women Dinner Dance - organises events for all African Australian women to attend and to showcase African culture.
The Dinka Literacy Association supports the maintenance of Dinka culture and language and seeks to teach Dinka literacy to the
Sudanese community. The Dinka-English Picture Dictionary is an initiative of the Dinka Literacy Association.
(g) Language is intrinsic to the expression of culture. First language maintenance should be actively supported and promoted
There is growing awareness that languages play a vital role in ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. Language preservation has also
been promoted as contributing to building inclusive knowledge societies and preserving cultural heritage.
Language is not the only way of maintaining culture, but it is a vital part of the process of settlement and integration.
Multilingualism among African populations is common. People often speak more than one language of their country of origin as they may have used a local
lingua franca or official language in some contexts in addition to one or more languages of their family and local community.
The issue of maintenance of language(s) of origin was one that drew wide support, but also wide debate, particularly in relation to ensuring that there
was an appropriate balance between supporting communities with English language acquisition and promoting the ongoing learning of community languages.
One organisation committed to language preservation is the Dinka Language Institute. The Institute promotes the benefits of literacy
within the community, and develops initiatives to enable adults and children to maintain their mother language.
(h) Creative arts as a method of participation and inclusion
Through film, music, and other creative initiatives, art can provide a safe environment for participants to interact and explore complex social and
Good practice examples of programs that are successfully engaged communities and contributed to reducing social isolation include:
IMPALA was established by community members who arrived in Melbourne from the D.R Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. This African community group has used
culture, heritage and traditions to support one another as they adjust and adapt to their new life in Australia.
Please see: www.multiculturalarts.com.au/events2007/impala.shtml
VCAM's Centre for Cultural Partnerships and the Horn of Africa Communities Network
In 2007, the Centre for Cultural Partnerships at the Faculty of the VCA and Music (VCAM) and the Horn of Africa Communities Network established an Arts
Partnership Project. The program of activities was designed to establish, demonstrate and evaluate the value and impact of:
- active participation in creative arts as an artistic and community capacity building developmental process
- personal and collective professional arts development through the involvement of professional artist and teachers, addressing traditional and
contemporary artistic expressions in African drumming, film, dance and music, linked and woven together through the art of storytelling
- the alignment of mentors to assist individual and collective inter-cultural awareness and cultural knowledge
- the role and integration of elders as cultural custodians, interpreters and inspirational leaders.
Please see: www.vca.unimelb.edu.au/hornofafrica
Sierra Leone Women - Wan Word Inc.
Sierra Leone Women Wan Word is a voluntary organisation, which was set up in 2003 with the aim of empowering Sierra Leonean women, providing
information addressing settlement issues, providing moral and emotional support to each other, fostering unity as well as contributing positively
towards multiculturalism in Australia. The organisation has produced a book and CD The Living Word that contains the experiences and stories of the
women during the war in Sierra Leone and as refugees in Guinea.
(i) Engaging with creative arts has enabled young people to explore culture and identity
A number of examples were given of arts projects involving young people from African Australian backgrounds. A number of projects that were cited draw
on storytelling traditions to allow the young people to explore and integrate their past and present experiences. By telling their stories through
theatre, film and other media, the young people can become the bridge between their African community and the wider Australian community and they can
take pride in being both African and Australian.
Feedback from the community suggests that some of these projects were particularly successful in generating important opportunities for intergeneration
dialogue between elders in the community and young people:
"This project was different because it was for young people, but it saw young people as part of their families and their communities. All of us were
involved, and now we feel that we can share and support our young people."
(Community Leader, Vic)
The development of short web-based films have become a popular medium for community-based arts projects. The following examples were cited:
Culture is our Future: Lamine Sonko
This web film presents artist Lamine Sonko's creative approach to working with primary schoolchildren and he introduces the value of culture within
traditional drumming and dance from his country Senegal.
Please see: www.vca.unimelb.edu.au/digitalstorytelling
Cry for Darfur: Vivian Deng and Jose Consul Junior
The case of Darfur might be viewed by many as a far away scenario. But the global experience shows that the best way to ensure social stability is to
ensure the protection of fundamental human rights, based on the rules of law.
Our Tenderness: Shahin Shafaei
Our Tenderness is a web film created with South Sudanese young women from the refugee community which settled in the City of Greater Dandenong. The
film communicates the issues of survival and encourages us to move beyond making judgments based on what the eye can see because it is an imperfect
Please see: www.vca.unimelb.edu.au/digitalstorytelling
Theatre-making as storytelling is a powerful vehicle for communities to find their 'collective voice' and integrate their community experiences into a
series of shared narratives that can evoke a new sense of social cohesion, belonging and civic pride. A number of examples were shared:
Theatre for Change
This is a forum theatre program working with Horn of Africa youth in Melbourne's outer metropolitan communities, St Alban's and Dandenong. A two-week
intensive period of workshops is held in each community culminating in the presentation to the community of a theatre piece, which addresses an issue
identified by the program participants. Workshops community participants will explore issues of settlement, inter-cultural experience and cultural
identity and this will finally culminate with a theatre piece for public presentation. Through a process of audience intervention, forum theatre
encourages community dialogue about the issues raised. The 'Theatre for Change' Project is a community theatre project that has been funded by
VicHealth's Social Participation and Social Cohesion Program.
In another example cited, photography as an effective means of cultural expression for young people was provided.
Snapshots of a New Life
Snapshots of a New Life is a project where young people explored their bicultural background by photographing and researching stories from their
families and their community members.
(j) Music and dance is an important part of the communities' intangible cultural heritage and preservation is essential
Music is part of all cultures' intangible cultural heritage. Preservation of this important aspect of cultural heritage is particularly important for
In one focus group, a number of Sudanese women highlighted their fear that due to the lack of extended family networks and elders who were often the
transmitters of culture that they were at great risk of forgetting their culture and cultural rites.
Similar concerns expressed by other Sudanese women in Victoria prompted the establishment of the Sudanese Women's Singing Group. The
group provides women of Sudanese background with opportunities to gather together and to maintain the important cultural practice of singing together
as a group. The weekly group provides a consistent opportunity for women to get together to recall, share and rehearse traditional songs. In this way,
cultural heritage is maintained and the group provides important opportunities for valuing traditional culture in a new country.
A similar project is also run in Brimbank, an outer suburb of Melbourne where Sudanese women are getting together to record
traditional folk songs and lullabies. The process of gathering together has reportedly created important opportunities for increased connectedness
within the community; increased connection to services and subsequent improvements in mental health and self-esteem, while working towards the
maintenance of this important cultural heritage.
Dance has also always been a central facet of African and African Diaspora culture. Several respondents stated that the significance of dance in the
African culture reflects an intrinsic cultural orientation toward physical expression and creativity. One example is the:
Dambai Dancing Group
Dambai Dancing Group was established in 1998 by Akon Deng Shok and was the first performance group in Melbourne for the Sudanese community. The group's
performances are aimed at showcasing the rich cultural experiences of Sudanese people. Dambai's repertoire includes the traditional cultural songs that
are featured on special occasions within the Sudanese community.
Please see: www.akm.net.au/dambai
(k) The role of local government in promoting cultural diversity is significant
Various local government Councils have Cultural Development Grant Programs which aim to encourage and support the creative based initiatives of artists
Respondents in the Victorian stakeholder workshops referred to the Expanding Cultures Conference which essentially 'triggered' a whole
host of initiatives around cultural development and local communities, particularly support for African Australian communities. One of the key aims of
the conference was to explore the changing shape of community cultures and their impact on local government in Victoria, Australia and overseas, and to
examine the arts as a vehicle for strengthening communities and facilitating social inclusion, particularly amongst newly arrived communities.
Examples in other states of innovative partnerships between local councils and communities were also provided. Below are some examples:
Blacktown City Council - Blacktown Arts Centre African Theatre Education Kit
The Blacktown Arts Centre developed a play called My Name is Sud (Soo-d) written over a two-year period by a Sudanese youth group mentored by a
professional dramatist. The play deals with racism, intergenerational conflict, the differences between African and Australian culture, cultural
isolation and trauma. The project will professionally film the play and develop an educational resource kit for distribution to the western Sydney high
schools. Screenings of the DVD in schools will be accompanied by a talk and Q&A sessions with Sudanese community representatives.
Brisbane City Council - It's not all Black and White: An African Story
The Council developed an educational kit: It's not all Black and White: An African Story, featuring the lives of new and emerging African communities
in Brisbane. The Council designed the kit to be used to educate the broader community about new and emerging African communities and reduce inaccurate
preconceived racial stereotypes. The kit aims to help Brisbane people begin to get to know and support new residents from Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sudan by welcoming and including African peoples in the life of Brisbane.
Community respondents strongly recommended that future government policies enshrine a solid commitment to promoting multilingualism and linguistic
(i) Focus Group with African Musicians - Multicultural Arts Victoria
The following section is based on consultations undertaken with five African musicians at the offices of Multicultural Arts Victoria in mid 2009. The
group included artists originating from Sudan, Ethiopia and Burundi. Their experiences ranged from being well established artists before arriving in
Australia to being young musicians attempting to establish a career in music in Australia. Three artists were female and two were male.
Themes of isolation and lack of acceptance strongly influenced the messages young African artists wanted to express through music and other forms of
art. Consultations revealed that many were using music to voice their experiences of racism and rejection experiences in particular through the
education system and interactions with the justice system.
Artists involved in consultations believed that the ability to continue to make music was just as critical to recording the histories of their
communities as it was to promoting messages of peace and understanding. Younger artists in particular had found that music provided an outlet for their
experiences and gave them the only opportunity they had to be heard, however minimal that opportunity may be. They also believed it was a very
effective approach to positively influencing youth within their own communities.
"I want people to hear my life story. Maybe that will make them understand us. Our life history is in our music."
In terms of artistic recognition, All African musicians involved in the consultations expressed much frustration around the fact that their genre of
music was consistently referred to as 'world music', a term they believe was used to refer to any type of music that fell outside the mainstream.
"I'm a song writer and performer… our music is put in this small box called world music. When they don't know about a type of music they just
call it world music. There are radio stations, community radio stations that have a weekly program where they play music from this 'genre' so if you
are lucky you get a couple of hours a week. Why can't we get the same air time? It's like TV, we never see an African face on the TV."
Some participants noted that SBS had done better than any other media group in increasing exposure to African artists; however, they were also
concerned that this just reinforced that African artists were not considered part of the mainstream.
African artists believed their physical appearance and accents were further barriers preventing their participation in the arts. It was not uncommon
for these artists to experience ridicule when singing in English with many now avoiding doing so. They also spoke of the emphasis they perceived the
Australian music industry placed on physical appearance, something they had not come across as artists in their homeland. Many of the artists consulted
believed that this was a barrier they would never overcome.
"Art is like humanity for us. We find it hard to communicate with business people because that is not what our music is about. Our art involves
culture, sound and language and we can express ourselves any way we want. Image and attitude are the culture of music here. This is so different to
"If it wasn't for Multicultural Arts Victoria we would never have had the opportunity to express ourselves artistically."
Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV)
The Emerge Festival concept developed out of community consultations undertaken by the Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) in an effort to identify needs
and barriers impacting the involvement of African communities in the arts. MAV became increasingly concerned about the lack of visibility of African
artists. A series of dialogue opportunities involving African community artists revealed that language used within the arts sector was a particular
barrier. Community perceptions around what constitutes an 'artist' also differed in critical ways.
The engagement process revealed a number of highly creative artists within local African communities, many of which had achieved considerable success,
fame and recognition in their country of origin but who were hampered in efforts to advance their careers in Australia.
Please see: www.multiculturalarts.com.au/events2009/emerge.shtml
MAV have gone on to establish a number of highly successful arts programs that engage African artists including 'Black Harmony Gathering' and the
'Emerge Festival' which celebrate Victoria's many diverse refugee and emerging cultures with a series of performances and unique cultural experiences
around Melbourne. A key feature of this festival is the ongoing discovery of alternative types of artistic expression including visual arts, ancient
crafts and ceremonies. This annual festival has grown to attract capacity audiences.
Consultations with key industry stakeholders revealed that, critical to successfully removing barriers to participation was the ability to respect and
listen to different ways of doing things.
They also recognised that continued accessibility was reliant on ongoing capacity building within African communities and identifying artistic leaders
to work with younger emerging artists. MAV run an 'Artistic Connections' program which brings together artistic leaders and younger artists in a
Cultural collaboration has become the most effective pathway to recognising community artists and creating performance opportunities. The majority of
African artists receive no recognition of their pre arrival artistic work outside the multicultural arts sector. There were numerous examples of
successful and talented African artists who had arrived in Australia and had exhausted all attempts to continue working in their field of artistic
endeavour, succumbing to jobs as unskilled factory workers.
MAV have continued to expand the range of programs promoting African artists and are experiencing increasing success and talent discovery through
these. They now produce a CD recording of African artists annually and ensure their inclusion in the 'Mix it Up' concert held on the main stage a Hamer
Hall, Arts Centre.
The 'Black Harmony Gathering' is another program of particular note and was established in 2005 in response to the conflict being witnessed between
Somali and Aboriginal communities in Melbourne. The event is held annually to celebrate the International Elimination of Racism Day and Cultural
Diversity Week. This gathering is a unique event with the message say no to racism! Aboriginal and multicultural artists come together to perform in a
spirit of reconciliation.
MAV believe their success in discovering and promoting African artists has been largely due to the fact that they go out into the community and
encourage artists to connect and perform at all available opportunities.
"Artists can play a big role in addressing racism, prejudice and stereotypes. What we need to do is increase the exposure to artists that promote these
messages and human rights. There are many powerful examples of young African musicians who do exactly this."
In terms of the future, stakeholders emphasised the importance of positioning the visibility of African artists in terms of their contribution to the
community. They expressed concern that most people are exposed to 'negative' representations through the media and that the arts can combat these by
focusing on powerful and positive messages.
10.2 Immigration experience
(i) Public submissions
Issues relating to African Australian immigration experiences were addressed by over a quarter (27%) of the submissions.
Issues relating to African Australians immigration experiences were raised during consultations with community members, but often in relation to other
experiences, particularly employment. Issues raised included:
- distinctions and differences between the skilled migration program and the refugee and humanitarian program
- processes relating to family reunion need to be simplified and more accessible
- African Australian communities often encounter cultural and language barriers when negotiating the immigration system
- accessing migration agents and advice
- professional conduct amongst some registered migration agents still remains an issue of concern.
In a handful of sessions, a small number of respondents highlighted the need for greater recognition of the differences between those migrating to
Australia as skilled migrants and those arriving as refugee and humanitarian entrants.
A considerable number of respondents raised the specific issue of family reunions, emphasising the importance of family as a way of enhancing
integration and encouraging migrant participation in economic, social, cultural, and political life.
"To be separated from your love ones is the most depressing and difficult experience you can imagine."
10.3 Negotiating gender relations
Information relating to gender issues was presented in a quarter (25%) of the submissions.
Negotiating gender relations was certainly a theme that was raised on numerous occasions throughout the project. However, much of the feedback provided
related to other themes, and so features in different sections.
Nevertheless, there were some specific issues that were highlighted. Broadly, these included:
- impact of culture shock, particularly on men
- the acculturation process involves adjustments as gender roles differ
- division between roles at home and expectations of Australian life.
- "We come here and we find we can't get a job and then I am not helping my family but my wife is getting a job. It is not good to show myself to the
community when it is like this."
The consultations highlighted that for many new arrivals coming from African countries, there can be a division between roles at home and expectations
of Australian life. This is reflected in the roles of adult men and women, and young people, who are faced with the tensions between maintaining
traditional African cultural practices while adhering to the demands of a new society. This creates challenges for maintaining and enhancing
There are a number of programs that have been established to address these issues:
Bridges for African Men and Families
The Bridges for African Men and Families Program is based on monthly dialogue meetings with representatives from CALD African communities in Tasmania,
and other relevant service providers. The meetings explore how to disseminate useful information and support on healthy relationships, and to enable
relevant service providers to be more responsive to the needs of these communities.
Please see: www.aifs.gov.au/cafca/ppp/profiles/cfc_bridges_ratas.html
The Men and Family Relationship Program at SMRC
The Men and Family Relationship Program at SMRC supports men from CALD backgrounds and their families to maintain and promote quality family
relationships through social connectedness, group activities and community education programs, as well as responding to their daily issues and
addressing their concerns through direct counseling and a case management service. Currently the program targets men from recently-arrived communities
including the Iraqi, Kurdish and Sudanese community. The program is supported by the Department of Family and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
through the Men and Family Relationship initiative.
African Men's Group - WA - Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre
The African Men's Group was established to bring African men together to develop resources and relationships that will maximise their assistance to
their own communities. The service focuses on capacity building that will give momentum to African men's orientation, paving the way for a quick
exchange of experience with different service providers and the government, and promoting various men's activities within African communities thereby
encouraging their participation in the broader Australian community.
10.4 Intergenerational issues
Another issue raised is the differing levels of adaptation to Australian society between parents and their children. Young people can adapt more
quickly to a new country, though they often have misconceptions of how it is for other young people in this society, which can lead to social problems
with cultural integration.
Several parents expressed being concerned at what they perceived to be the gradual loss of their children's cultural identity.
Many of the newly-arrived communities have no concept of 'youth'. For many of these families the first time they encounter the concept of youth is via
Centrelink, which is when young members of their family are switched to Youth Allowance.
"While 'youth' is recognised as a key developmental stage of life in Australia, in Southern Sudan the category is relatively unknown, because at around
the age of 12, or the onset of puberty, a child is usually initiated into adulthood."
The Somali Women's Group received a grant from the Australian Council for Arts for the Poetry Jam Arts Project with the aim of
improving intergenerational communication between young people and the elders in the community through traditional poetry and the hip hop subculture.
10.5 Faith related issues
Issues relating to faith were addressed by one tenth (9%) of the submissions.
Faith related issues were also raised at many of the community workshops.
- Issues relevant to African Australian Muslim women in relation to their faith, and their experiences of discrimination were repeatedly
identified. Muslim women in particular have reported the detrimental impact that harassment and discrimination have had on their freedom of movement
and sense of safety, their sense of control and agency over their lives, and their sense of belonging and participation in society.
- Importantly, many said that spirituality and religious beliefs have been a common coping mechanism for many Muslims.
- The impact of laws aimed at counter-terrorism measures limit the ability of Muslim Australians to enjoy their rights to freedom of religion,
opinion and association. Australia's Muslim and Arab populations have reported an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab prejudice since September 2001.
The negative public attitudes towards these communities raise concerns about the ability of Muslim Australians to publicly manifest their religion.
- For Muslims, as with all members of faith-based communities, there is limited legal protection at the Commonwealth level from actions of
government officials or government policies that restrict freedom of religion or discriminate on the basis of religion.
A number of Sudanese respondents discussed the importance of the role of religion and faith in their settlement process, highlighting the number of
Sudanese churches that had been established across the country.
Two focus groups conducted with young people in Victoria highlighted the role of youth multifaith networks in developing awareness and compassion, an
understanding of difference, and an acceptance.
There are several programs focusing on young people and their role in multi faith networks and dialogues. One program that was cited is the Multifaith Multicultural Youth Mentoring (MMYM) initiative that fosters connections between young people from diverse backgrounds,
with a strong interest in multifaith multicultural dialogue, and decision makers in the Victorian community.
10.6 Relationships between African and other minority groups
(i) Community - summary
The issue of relationships between African Australians and other minority Australian groups received varying levels of attention within the community
focus groups. Where the subject was directly addressed, dialogue tended to focus mostly on inter cultural issues between Indigenous Australians (young)
and young Australians. This prompted requests for a specific session to examine the issues and details identified below.
- negative relationships in some states/areas between young Australians from a Pacific Islander background and African Australians
- tensions between other migrant and refugee groups and African Australians
- discriminatory attitudes towards African Australians who identified as being gay
- a small number of focus groups raised the issue of tension within African Australian groups and organisations stemming from either competition
for scarce resources or geographic and political demarcations in their countries of origin.
Where tensions had been identified, community members also provided a number of excellent examples of constructive responses in an effort to resolve
issues between the conflicting groups.
Overall, however, most community respondents indicated a desire to increase understanding and acceptance across minority groups, with a strong
commitment to the values and principles of multiculturalism and social cohesion.
(a) Relations with Indigenous Australians
Several community members in a number of different states highlighted examples of tensions and conflict between Indigenous young Australians and
recently settled African Australian young people. Respondents suggested that tensions between the two groups were often based on a perception of
competition for resources and support, particularly in relation to access to housing and education.
In undertaking this project, an ideal opportunity was presented for an open dialogue to occur between Aboriginal and African communities to identify
common community issues, particularly around youth, and to explore constructive ways forward.
The following section is based on a community consultation involving Indigenous and African communities in Melbourne. The consultation was co-hosted by
the Commission and the City of Yarra in recognition of their large population of Aboriginal and African communities.
The meeting was chaired by Tom Calma, former Race Discrimination Commissioner and included over 20 participants representing:
- Alliance of African - Australian Youth
- Melbourne Aboriginal Youth, Sport and Recreation Co-op
- African Holistic Social Services Victoria
- Neighbourhood Justice Centre
- Sudanese Support Project - Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services
- New Hope Migrant and Refugee Centre
- Community members/residents.
This consultation was believed to be the first formal meeting of this kind run in Australia, bringing together Australia's oldest and youngest
"I am an African woman who has been living in this country for 14 years. This is the first time I have ever come face to face with people from the
Aboriginal community. I feel proud to have the opportunity to meet face to face. This has negated all the negative assumptions made by the media."
African community participants commented that there were no community spaces where their youth could meet to practice cultural traditions and socialise
with their peers. This resulted in 'hanging around on the street' and was contributing to youth issues in the area.
Representatives from Aboriginal communities commented on the similarities experienced by both community groups who have each struggled around
maintaining their identity and dealing with the impact of this struggle on their youth.
"Maintaining culture is what gives us our strength. It has taken a lifetime and we don't want our children to take as long."
The clear message from the Aboriginal community was that African communities needed to develop the capacity to deliver what they needed for their youth
independently of government. They invited African youth to visit the local Aboriginal youth recreation facility to explore opportunities for mutual
learning and sharing of resources.
Both Aboriginal and African community participants agreed that children in their communities had experienced much suffering and had to grow up too
soon. However, they also acknowledged that both are strong cultures that had the ability to retain their cultural identity and to overcome adversity.
"We need to get our young people together and listen to them. It's about time we started to hear each other's stories."
This consultation, as well as a number of others across different states and territories highlighted a number of innovative initiatives and activities
to bring together African and Indigenous young people in friendship and respect.
The MCNT has organised several barbeque/meetings of African and Indigenous community leaders and Elders based on the theme of 'Let's
Talk It Over'. The meetings have been very well attended. From these meetings the idea for an African/Indigenous Council of Elders has been proposed.
'My Sister's Kitchen' - This project is designed to promote interaction and understanding between Indigenous, broader community and African refugee women through exchange of
cultural information contained in cooking and storytelling. Participants develop skills in food handling and cultural enterprise, skills exchanges and
opportunities to perform and cater at events at local festivals and cultural development community events hosted by Darwin Community Arts.
Please see: www.mysisterskitchen.org.au
Sanctuary Northern Rivers Incorporated - 'Finding Common Ground' - the project aims to bring together and support local youth leaders from Indigenous, African and other Australian backgrounds so they can build
bridges between their communities and address intercultural tensions between them. The project's activities commenced with a weekend retreat where
participants shared their life experiences and addressed the tensions and conflicts between their groups. After this, the group was supported to hold a
youth forum and share their ideas for change.
Songlines Inc: Songlines Community Engagement Program - this organisation currently manages the Songlines Choir, which attracts and maintains productive and trusting relationships with Indigenous, Torres
Strait Islander, Eritrean and Sudanese communities through weekly choir rehearsals. The program has recently been funded to allow it to perform at
annual gatherings, including National Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC week, Eritrean and Sudanese cultural festivals and other social justice and
celebratory events. The project also proposes to hold a showcase concert, which will be promoted more broadly throughout Brisbane.
Please see: www.songlines.net.au
Women Creating Harmony
VU (Victoria University) worked with the Gathering Place to set up a multicultural women's group to work with, and explore youth issues in the western
region of Melbourne. The Vietnamese Community, Horn of African Communities, Indian, New Zealanders, Islamic Women Council and Indigenous Australians
participated in the project. The Gathering Place received funding from the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
(b) Intercultural relations with Pacific Islander communities
Tensions between African Australian youth and young people from Pacific Islander backgrounds was also raised by some groups, particularly in Victoria
Community respondents highlighted a number of projects and community driven initiatives that were aimed at addressing these tensions. Examples
Rugby Youth Foundation - The Mt Druitt and Doonside Youth Leaders Program
The Mt Druitt/Doonside Youth Leadership Project is a cross-cultural leadership program that aims to empower youth, aged 15-19, particularly from the
Pacific Islander, African and Indigenous communities. The youth are being trained in leadership skills and placed into cross-cultural management teams
to lead sporting activities for local primary school students. The youth will become the face of Rugby in the Park activities, provide good role
modelling behaviour and create positive influences for future generations. The project will equip the youth with skills to improve social
relationships, enhance their further education and employment options.
Claymore Neighbourhood and Youth Centre - 'Imagine You and Me'
In response to incidents in the community involving African Australian and Pacific Islander youth, the 'Imagine You and Me' project was implemented to
have young people working on ways to discuss and help break down barriers between different cultural groups by attending workshops twice a week and
producing Hip Hop songs based on the workshopped ideas. Music and video technology is used as a medium to produce common ground for young people of all
cultures who live in the community. A CD and DVD of the songs and project will be produced by the young people to be used by local community services
and schools to promote peaceful and progressive attitudes.
Information and Cultural Exchange: Stories of Change - sharing diverse youth cultures
This project seeks to address issues of cultural and racial intolerance by engaging young people from African refugee, Arabic and Pacific Islander
backgrounds through creative and digital media workshops that will include hip-hop, storytelling, video production, documentary and online formats.
Workshops will facilitate discussion and enable participants to communicate around issues of cultural identity and racial tension and help find common
ground. The young people will showcase the outcomes of the project at a community workshop for their families and wider communities, bringing together
African, Islander, Arabic and other diverse communities incorporating performances and screenings, and enabling a rare opportunity for
intergenerational and intercultural dialogue.
Mt Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency - Mt Druitt Embraces Diversity
The project aims to create opportunities to foster a sense of understanding and belonging amongst different cultures within the Mt. Druitt community.
The overall aim of the project is to break-down some of the strongly held myths and forge a sense of unity and belonging amongst the different cultural
groups which exist in the region, by facilitating an open dialogue and encouraging participation in community forums, workshops and festivals. The
project aims to create a community which is inclusive of all, promotes a shared sense of belonging and recognises and values cultural diversity.
Please see: www.meca.asn.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=18
(c) Attitudes towards Gay and Lesbian minorities
A request was made by a group of young gay and lesbians to conduct a focus group with the aim of exploring issues particular to this minority. The
focus group highlighted discriminatory attitudes both within African Australian communities as well as the broader mainstream society. Issues raised
- isolation from the communities or forced silence
- name calling and stigma because of their sexual orientation
- community leaders shun the issues, arguing that it is unnatural and should not be supported:
- "Some community leaders have publicly said that being gay is 'un African'"
(d) Issues within African Australian groups and organisations
A small number of focus groups raised the issue of tension within African Australian groups and organisations. Community respondents suggested that
these were often caused by competition between groups for funding or geographic, ethnic and political difference.
One fifth (21%) of submissions addressed this issue.
Several examples of initiatives designed to address these issues were provided including:
The African Leadership, Learning and Advocacy Group Inc. (ALLAG)
To address tensions within African organisations, ALLAG held an evening festival for African community organisations throughout Victoria. The event
featured speeches by prominent leaders, music performances as well as cooking demonstrations. The project has the support of several African
organisations in Victoria and seeks to increase understanding and respect between groups ultimately improving relationships.
Please see: www.allag.org.au/index.htm
Sudanese Women Association of Northern Tasmania - Empowering Sudanese Women to Act through Peace Education
The Sudanese community in Launceston come from diverse ethnic groups, and have had vastly different refugee experiences. This creates tensions and
misunderstandings amongst the Sudanese community and affects their ability to work together and participate in the broader Launceston environment. It
is recognised that the Sudanese community needs to work together to create mutual understanding of each other's situation. In order to address these
differences, the Peace Education Course, pioneered in Kenya by Pamela Baxter, is proposed to be run for Sudanese women. The course helps former
refugees share their experiences and establishes a common purpose to work together.
10.7 Community relationships and tensions
Almost all of the focus groups conducted with African Australian communities highlighted the issue of community relationships and tensions, with many
- experiences of discrimination and racism in all spheres of public life
- lack of intercultural understanding amongst non African Australians
- low levels of acceptance in various spheres of public life
- rejection by local neighbourhoods
- negative stereotypes about cultural differences
- perceptions by mainstream communities of African Australians not integrating
- experiencing high levels of scrutiny by public bodies, such as police and child protection agencies
- heightened experiences of isolation by young African Australians from mainstream Australia
- repeated negative media reports about the use of public space by young African people
- inaccurate representation of African communities as homogenous
- regular media reports distorting incidences of crime committed by African Australians.
Community respondents suggested that there was a much greater need for activities that aimed to promote greater understanding, respect and
intercultural learning between African Australians and mainstream community members:
"Activities that will help all of us understanding each other more, but not only what is different but what is shared as well."
Small not-for-profit organisations promote social capital and promote social inclusion among migrant and refugee communities. Being a newly-arrived
migrant or refugee can be an extremely isolating experience and many African Australian and other voluntary organisations play a vital role in
developing support networks and enhancing social wellbeing through bringing people together for cultural, social and religious events, literacy classes
or sporting activities.
A number of positive initiatives have been undertaken by African Australians in an effort to challenge the mainstream community's negative perceptions.
Some examples highlighted included:
Al Zahra Muslim Women's Association Inc - Diversity of Muslim Women Conference
The project aims to address a range of stereotypes and myths about Muslim women, particularly those from African Australian backgrounds by showing that
Muslim women have integrated and become part of society in many different ways, such as professional women, teachers, lawyers, artists, business women.
In May 2009, the organisation hosted a Conference in Rockdale, NSW. The Conference aimed to provide a catalyst for mainstream communities to reconsider
negative stereotypes and create positive perceptions about the true identity of a Muslim woman.
Sierra Leone Migrant Association Inc: Building our Capacity, Building our Community
The project will provide leadership training to community representatives, including youth, and will provide the resources for them to actively
identify and participate in community meetings and activities. These representatives will positively advocate for African Australians in Launceston,
and promote understanding and acceptance of their cultural heritage, as part of the diversity of the Launceston community. The project also entails
three public celebrations, which will invite local community members and organisation representatives, such as Launceston City Council, local schools,
Rotary clubs and progress associations and the neighbourhood house. These celebrations will showcase Sierra Leonean culture on Sierra Leone
Independence Day, Harmony Day, and as part of Refugee Week.
Liverpool Australian Sudanese Community Inc - Intercultural dialogue between Sudanese community and other communities living in Liverpool
The project identified stereotyping of the Sudanese community and their 'adaptation into society'. The project held a series of workshops which brought
diverse communities together to share experiences and knowledge. Through dialogue the Sudanese and other communities from the area explored social
identities, difference and inequality with the aim of building greater understanding, skills and values for living, learning and working in a
Rumbek Community in Australia Incorporated - Promotion of Rumbek (Sudanese) Culture in Newcastle
The project proposes a cultural event showcasing the music, dance, traditional dress and food of the Rumbek community that will allow the mainstream
community to interact with the growing population, and notes similar events held in Sydney have increased acceptance levels. It will involve nearly all
200 members of the Rumbek community and invite members of government and NGOs. Following the event, the organisation will connect with local councils
and community organisations to continue the positive outcomes.
A number of community organisations are utilising technology, including the internet to raise awareness of diverse African communities and their
The Sudanese Online Research Association (SORA)
This website is devoted to the issues, journeys, images and stories of the Sudanese diaspora. SORA strives to provide an internationally accessible
centre for Sudan-related research and to raise awareness in academic and wider circles of the hopes, struggles and realities of the Sudanese people
living outside Sudan.
Local governments play a fundamental role in facilitating social inclusion and participation for their local population. Many have cultural diversity
plans which outline commitments to harmonious and culturally diverse communities. A number of Councils also establish and convene settlement planning
networks which have a focus on new and emerging communities.
In addition, local Councils provide grants to local community groups and organisations to run projects and activities that will benefit local
residents, many of which address community relations.
A number of examples where local councils had initiated local activities designed to promote greater understanding of newly-arrived communities were
cited by both community and stakeholder respondents. Below is just a small sample of the range of initiatives identified throughout the consultations:
Local Area Multicultural Partnerships program
The Local Area Multicultural Partnerships program, funded by Multicultural Affairs Queensland, is implemented in partnership with local governments,
and is designed to create harmonious and cohesive community relations. Under the program, 14 local councils are funded to employ workers who are
responsible for ensuring that every part of councils' core business is accessible and inclusive of all community members, regardless of their
background. Program workers in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Logan, Cairns and Townsville, in particular, work closely with African refugee communities.
Other examples cited include:
Tasmanians Talking project
The project aims to facilitate friendship and social networks between established communities and new emerging communities via a series of activities.
The project is managed by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and supported by DIAC. The project involves four key elements that give residents,
government agencies and community organisations the opportunity to share their experiences, culture and wisdom while discussing local issues of mutual
concern. The core element of the project comprises series of community dialogues that will be run in 12 Tasmanian neighbourhoods across six local
council districts. This process is modelled on the Boston Dialogues, a successful program developed and refined over many years by the City of Boston,
Building Bridges Project
The Building Bridges Project raises community understanding and celebrates cultural diversity within African refugee communities and the Gold Coast
community. This project provides information sessions on African culture, history and customs and workshops in drumming, hair-beading, coffee-making
ceremony and food preparation.
The African Women's Chorus
The African Women's Chorus builds friendships between African Australian women and provides the broader community of Queensland with opportunities to
experience traditional African music.
10.8 Countering negative media stereotypes
Issues relating to media portrayals of African Australians were addressed by one third (32%) of the submissions.
Community respondents repeatedly raised concerns in relation to the way in which mainstream media were perpetuating stereotypes and racism.
"I worry every day about what I will see in the newspaper this time about our community. This has been very sad that they do this."
The impact of negative media stereotypes of African Australian young people was highlighted as having a significant impact on their sense of belonging
and their self esteem and confidence.
Several community leaders however stressed the need for African Australians to become better informed about how the media in Australia worked and to
begin to think about using it more effectively:
"There are lots of stories that show the communities are benefiting this country. We need to be able to encourage the media to show these stories which
represent the majority of Africans in Australia."
One example is the New Media Project. New Australia Media aims to give a voice to those in our community who are missing - and
sometimes misrepresented - in the mainstream media. A not-for-profit association, New Australia Media aims to make the mainstream media more
multicultural and the multicultural media more mainstream. The first project to progress this aim is a website featuring news from the 45% of the
population who were either born overseas or have one parent born overseas, plus a Multicultural Media Association to act as an umbrella group for
The website, hosted by the State Library of Victoria, features stories from multicultural Australia written mainly by young people
from new and emerging communities. Journalist mentors volunteered their time to work one-on-one with these young people. Some of the young people were
newly arrived in Australia, and most of the contributors had never written a story before.
Please see: www.newaustraliamedia.org
Ethnic broadcasting plays a significant role in maintaining language, culture and identity, simulating multilingualism and combating
racism/stereotypes, through self-representation of minority communities, promoting communication, dialogue and understanding.
Other initiatives highlighted by community respondents aimed at challenging negative media stereotypes included media training for young people.
For example, the Migrant Information Centre in Melbourne undertook a project for young people that included training 20 youth aged 17
to 25 years interested in learning about the way negative media impacts on targeted cultural and ethnic groups, as well as the broader society. The
project, which was funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Living in Harmony Program, supported youth and equipped them with the skills
to organise forums and present to their peers on how to analyse media reports and constructively respond to negative images of ethnic groups in the
Please see: www.miceastmelb.com.au/youth.htm
Transport and social exclusion was seen by some community respondents as an issue of growing concern particularly for newly-arrived African
Transport contributes to social inclusion by providing access to work, education, healthcare, food, shops, social, cultural and sporting activities.
There were a number of barriers identified by stakeholders to accessing public transport. These included:
- lack of knowledge of the system
- fear of crime and personal safety
- vulnerability to racism
- providing community managed transport services supported by government investment could help remove these barriers.
The availability of public transport was seen to be of particular importance to young people involved in the consultations:
"We need to have a familiarisation program that helps people learn how to get around on public transport. We don't really get any of this information.
We have to try and work it ourselves."
While the following is a story of discrimination, this young African Australian enjoyed some measure of success in his response:
"I got on the bus, and there was one seat left next to a woman at the back. But as I was walking up I noticed that she put her bag on the empty seat. I
thought 'not again', but I decided that I would this time do something different, so I looked at the bag and said to the bag "Did you pay?" and then I
said "What? You didn't pay!?" The woman quickly snatched her bag and as I went to sit on the seat, she turned her back to me. So I did the same, and
then the people on the bus started clapping and I felt very good to know that not all people in Australia are like that."
Perceptions of safety and fear of crime associated with public transport was of particular concern for women, including young women.
Transport was also a major issue for the growing number of newly-arrived families who had been settled in regional and rural locations.
Whilst discussions in relation to transport tended to focus on public transport, it is important to note that use of a private car also brings with it
some challenges for some newly arrived communities, particularly in relation to ensuring that they are properly licensed.
10.10 Sport and social inclusion
Sport featured significantly in many of the focus groups conducted with community respondents, particularly young African Australians, both male and
female. Discussions in relation to sport could broadly be categorised into three key themes:
- sport as a method for inclusion
- sport as a method for improving negative relations, particularly with police
- sport as an arena for discrimination and racism.
The range of sports varied, but the most frequently preferred were: soccer, football, cricket, basketball.
(a) Sport as a method for inclusion
"Sport really helps to promote inclusion and social cohesion in the newly arrived communities here because the young people really seem to love
Many of the young African Australians participating in the consultations demonstrated an enthusiasm and interest in participating in sport. Older
members of the community were likely to identify the benefits but did not raise the issue of sport as frequently as the youth respondents did.
The benefits identified included:
- increased sense of belonging and inclusion
- development of friendship networks
- 'When I first came to Australia I did not have any friends. When I started playing football I met a lot of people and some of them are now my friends."
- access to wider support, such as homework assistance
- development of skills
- availability of older role models
- several stakeholders who had become involved in their children's sporting activities expressed the view that their involvement had provided them
with greater opportunity for volunteering and increasing their social networks.
- a tool against racism
A number of respondents expressed the view that sport can be a potential tool to fight against discrimination and racism:
"You don't have to even speak the same language, but you are working together to win."
The STAARTS focus group with staff also highlighted the benefits of sport, particularly to young refugees from African Australian backgrounds. They
provided a number of good practice examples, including the African Soccer Tournament, which was sponsored by the Australian Centre for
Languages (ACL). The program was created to break the social isolation of newly-arrived refugee youths, particularly from African backgrounds settling
in Western Sydney. It also provided the opportunity for African refugee youths and others to come together in a single event so the competition became
a point of common interest for all. The teams were from Somalia, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Gambia, Ethiopia and the NSW Police Soccer Team.
Western Sydney Burundian Soccer Team
Burundian refugees are fairly new to Australia, almost all of whom have arrived in the last three years. Despite being here for such a short time,
young men from the community have organised a regular team that plays every Saturday in Fairfield. They have also invited a small number of Congolese
and Sudanese to join them.
The AFL Multicultural Football Program
The AFL Multicultural Program is designed to introduce Australian Football to migrants and refugees. The program has seven Multicultural Development
Officers (MDOs) based in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. The MDOs are based at and working closely with AFL clubs to deliver programs
encouraging participation in Australian Football within multicultural communities and schools across greater Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and some rural
A major thrust of the Multicultural Football Programs is to put newly arrived cultural groups in touch with Australian Football as quickly as possible
in order to help them feel more connected with their surrounds. One way of doing this is to get them to a game of AFL footy.
One such day was organised at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for a number of families from Victoria's culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Young people and their families attended a game of Australian Football for the first time as part of the AFL's Family Weekend Round of matches.
Families from the Western English Language School, Blackburn English Language School, Jesuit Social Services, Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning
(SAIL) Program and Spring Valley Primary School came along to experience Australian Football.
Please see: www.afl.com.au/about/tabid/10288/default.aspx
The Human Rights are Aussie Rules Project
This is a schools-based education program teaching children about human rights through principles of fair play and good sportsmanship. The project has
been developed by the Eastern Community Legal Centre and uses an innovative theatre production, FRED's Fair Play, to help children easily understand
basic human rights principles. Performances of FRED's Fair Play, which can be tailored to meet school needs, are accompanied by an interactive and fun
workshop, educating children about the play's key themes - Freedom, Respect, Equality and Dignity.
Please see: www.humanrightsareaussierules.org.au
'Out of Africa and into Soccer'
This is an initiative funded by VicHealth aimed at providing opportunities for newly-arrived young men from African backgrounds to participate in the
community through sport. It aims to enhance the settlement of the emerging African refugee community by facilitating and supporting their participation
in sporting activities. The project also aims to develop the leadership skills of community members through a process of mentoring by existing local
ZimVic Social Sports Club
This social sports club was established in 2007 in Melbourne by Zimbabwean immigrants to integrate into Australian life through sport. From humble
beginnings in Carrum Downs, the club has rapidly grown and has helped players and supporters to build solid community relationships, social skills and
embrace cultural diversity, and now fields a competitive team that has enjoyed success against several local multicultural teams.
Please see: http://zimvicfootballclub.ning.com
More recently, specific efforts appear to have been made to engage young women, particularly young Muslim women. This was seen to be a direct result of
opening the sport up to players "from all religions, races and cultures". Some service providers however expressed the view that girls' experiences in
and perceptions of physical education in many team sport-based programs are less than satisfactory.
Nevertheless, stakeholders referred to a number of particularly successful programs including:
Young Women's Soccer Program
SERMRC runs a soccer program for girls aged 12-21 from refugee backgrounds. With funding from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)
Settlement Grants Program the aim is to increase the girls self-confidence, develop their fitness levels and enhance their social networks.
Please see: www.sermrc.org.au/index.php?page=youth-services
Flemington Estate Women's Participation in Sport and Recreation Project
Led by Doutta Galla Community Health Service and funded by Department of Planning and Community Development Sport and Recreation, the project is
partnered by community organisations, local government, Victoria Police and CMY to increase the participation of local women in sport and recreation
opportunities. The project recently facilitated a young women's camp, surfing lessons, dance program.
(b) Sport as a method for improving negative relations, particularly with police
Improving police and ethnic youth relations is a vital task for the maintenance of a harmonious community.
Sport has become an extremely effectively tool for enhancing police and African youth relations and provides a forum where the police and young people
interact in a friendly atmosphere. There were many examples provided including:
Rosehill Local Area Command
This project, involving sporting, social and workshop events, has evolved into regular monthly meetings between young people and police in the Rosehill
Local Area Command (LAC). The aim was to develop and enhance relationships between police and young people of African backgrounds, who may have been
involved in at-risk or anti-social behaviour. The project also aims to engage young people in crime prevention strategies, as well as early
intervention work to address potential anti-social behaviour of some people within these communities. The project involves a monthly social and
sporting event between police, youth workers and young Africans, which includes crime prevention workshops covering topics such as young people's
rights, driving without a licence, personal safety, reporting crime, bullying, youth violence and sexual harassment.
(c) Sport as an arena for discrimination and racism
While young people were particularly enthusiastic about involvement in sport, they were also able to identify a number of barriers to participation.
- discrimination and racism
- limited knowledge about how to access organised sporting opportunities and playing venues (for training and competitions)
- costs associated with obtaining sporting equipment and joining organised sporting associations.
Discrimination and racism was highlighted as the key barrier to participation by most community respondents. Experiences of racism or discrimination
had deterred a number of young people from continuing their participation in the sport.
Stakeholders identified a number of government and non government initiatives aimed at addressing some of these barriers, including:
Queensland Roars Against Racism strategy
Under its Queensland Roars Against Racism strategy, Multicultural Affairs Queensland has made a special effort to include African refugee communities
by providing low-cost entry to sports events and by showcasing African performers at major events.
Please see: www.multicultural.qld.gov.au/community/roar
Sudanese use basketball to counter racism
A national Sudanese Basketball Tournament was organised by Sudanese Youth as a way of Sudanese youths. The competition involving young members of
Australia's Sudanese community in Melbourne, which was watched by over 1000 spectators and attracted 12 male and two female teams from around
Australia. It is now planned as an annual event.
"It helps to bring young Sudanese together, to play basketball and work in a team. It also helps young Sudanese to access sport facilities that are
quite expensive, particularly for newly arrived communities like ours who may have big families."
Bouncing racism out of sport
A 'Bouncing Racism out of Sport' booklet and DVD were developed by Cricket Victoria, Football Victoria and Netball Victoria in partnership with the
Department of Victorian Communities. They have combined resources and expertise to develop a comprehensive racial and religious tolerance education
program which is available and distributed to clubs.
Star Basketball Recreation Club
A number of young people from Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana have formed the Star Basketball Recreation Club.
"With the support of SydWest Multicultural Services who help fund us to play at Blacktown PCYC we have been able to get these kids off the streets and
give them an opportunity to play basketball.''