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Cultural and linguistic diversity

Australia is a vibrant, multicultural country and home to the world’s oldest living continuous culture, as well as Australians who identify with more than 270 ancestries. Since 1945, almost 7 million people have migrated to Australia.

In 1975, the Racial Discrimination Act (the Act) came into force, making discrimination in different parts of public life against the law. The Act, which was Australia’s first federal anti-discrimination law, formalised our commitment to the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

In 1995, the Act was extended to make public acts of racial hatred against the law. Today, this Act continues to send a strong message about our common commitment to racial equality and the importance of a fair go for all.

Despite this legal protection, many people in Australia continue to experience prejudice and unfair treatment because of how they look or where they come from. This is of utmost importance with placements. How we partner with children, young people, parents and carers during this time is important for the reunification, connection and wellbeing of children and young people in care.

Culture and cultural identity

Culture is ‘an integrated pattern of human behaviour that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious, or social group’ (Cross et al, 1989).

There are many important considerations that need to be kept in mind in relation to culture and cultural identity, including the following:

  • Everyone has a cultural identity, but it is not always recognised or defined by the person themselves. Sometimes, culture is seen simply as ‘the way we do things’.
  • Culture and cultural identity are dynamic and constantly changing.
  • Culture plays an important role in influencing beliefs, values and behaviour
  • People may be influenced by and identify with more than one culture or cultural group.
  • It is the choice of the individual as to which culture they identify with regardless of their cultural background.

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