“The cultural wealth of the world is its diversity” (UNESCO)

(Image source: www.theguardian.com)

May 21, 2016, marked World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Proceeding UNESCO's Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in November 2001, the General Assembly of the United Nations announced May 21 as World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

"Affirming that respect for the diversity of cultures, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation, in a climate of mutual trust and understanding are the best guarantees of international peace and security."
(UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity)

We are encouraged to develop a deeper understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to engage with others of diverse backgrounds to learn to live together harmoniously.

Three-quarters of the world's major conflicts have a cultural dimension.
(unaoc.org)

This year UNESCO invited everyone to join the "Do ONE thing for Diversity and Inclusion" campaign. Suggesting small, personal changes can reform communities and encourage cultural diversity.

Here at RMCC, we implement programs assisting children of refugee and migrant backgrounds who are encountering disadvantage. The foundation offers Learning Support programs, Life Skill workshops and provide essential education material.

What is the one thing you can do on an ongoing basis to have universal success in the plight against racism and exclusion?

How you can do ONE thing for Diversity and Inclusion:

1. Visit an art exhibit or museum dedicated to other cultures.
2. Volunteer with an organisation working towards diversity and inclusion (volunteer with us at RMCC)!
3. Read about different religions and cultures.
4. Engage with work colleagues of different cultural backgrounds.
5. Encourage friends and loved ones to do the same.

Investing time to learn about other cultures and engage with others of diverse backgrounds does not to suggest a requirement to compare and judge, but rather to contemplate different ideas and beliefs.

In the words of one wise philosopher,
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it” - Aristotle.

Words by Lucy Davidson

Do we need ambassadors for us to care?

Image source: www.UNHCR.org

On May 2, the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, announced the appointment of Academy Award winning actor, Cate Blanchett as a Goodwill Ambassador.

This announcement came as Blanchett returned from a mission in Jordan, where she witnessed the ongoing humanitarian support to people displaced by the conflict in Syria. In light of meeting those seeking refuge, UNHCR released a video (here) of Blanchett speaking of the importance of compassion and our innate desire to connect is what makes us human.

‘We have a deep vein of compassion …. It seems we are at a fork in the road, do we go down the compassionate road or the path of intolerance’?

Capitalising on the influence of prominent public figures plays an important role in bringing to light many of the issues NGOs, grass-roots, and many other organisations are striving to aid. It seems we need a central figure, someone who is respected, appealing and perhaps holds a connection to the cause; to inform us about what to care about and how to go about assisting if we have the inclination.

The support of an impassioned celebrity for a cause can help to reach a new audience, albeit this reach can only drive so far. Working on delivering a campaign message which genuinely touches a nerve with the public is of greater importance.

UNHCR is not alone in utilising public figures for influence, many organisation seek persuasion through these channels. Depending on their profile, interests and level of responsibilities, gaining support from prominent figures can place the organisation at the forefront of the people’s awareness and act as a liaison between audience and organisation.

When seeking local support, ambassadorship can take on a different ideal. If used to gain meaningful connections with the community, utilising local leaders and people prominent and well-respected in the industry can be of far more importance. Key ambassadors for the Asylum Seeker Resource centre located in Footscray are 2010 Australian of the year Prof. Patrick McGorry and writer, human rights advocate Arnold Zable. Likewise, youth worker, author and former refugee Abdi Aden was appointed Australian Red Cross Ambassador. These somewhat less prominent figures all aspire to achieve the same as those with notoriety, to pull public awareness and gain support for the causes they champion.

Blanchett asks the audience a poignant question ‘what type of world do we hope to live in?’, perhaps this is the reason we need public figures championing causes. Perhaps we need to be reminded of what is important; a central figure championing causes that need our focus and to highlight the issues that will define the type of world we live in.

Words by Lucy Davidson