5 Steps to Make Your School More Inclusive

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More than a quarter of Australians are born overseas, making Australia one of the most multicultural countries in the world. With so many new Australians, many of us are eager to make our society more welcoming, but might not know where to start.

Inclusion in the classroom and the schoolyard are vitally important for kids who are arriving in Australia at a formative time of their lives, as well as for their families who are getting their bearings in a new country. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help them settle in.

1. Do your research. Spend some time developing knowledge about the different cultural backgrounds of children in your school, to help guide your approach to new students. Be mindful that within every group is a rich tapestry of difference and it’s still crucial to treat students as individuals, rather than representatives of their culture.

2. Use plain English and large print. By using plain English on handouts, notices to parents and classroom displays, you’re making sure you have the best chance of communicating with everyone. Plain English is not only easier for English learners to understand, but also has the advantage of accommodating students and parents with different learning abilities.

3. Where you can, offer an interpreter. Offering a professional interpreter to students’ parents can help increase their involvement and help them to feel part of the school community. It’s also thoughtful to offer an ‘open door’ policy, setting aside certain hours for parents and carers to come in and share their thoughts and concerns.

4. Teach kids about our diverse community. Use classroom projects as an opportunity to expose students to other cultures and the fascinating ways different people live and express themselves. Some project ideas include: asking students to interview members of the community, starting a book club with texts from a variety of sources, or establishing a pen pal program with other children overseas.

5. Instill the idea of social responsibility. Encourage students to understand their rights and the power they have as citizens to advocate for the kind of world they want to live in. Teaching kids to write letters to politicians, attend community meetings or run small-scale fundraisers for causes they believe in helps them to feel confident in their ability to shape a future that includes everyone.

The items on this list are just a starting point – ultimately making your school a caring, welcoming environment for new Australians is a collaborative project that requires everyone’s help to succeed, but there is still plenty we can do as individuals. T

he schoolyard can be a big, scary place for a young person in a new country, and it can be the little things that make it that bit easier to feel at home!

Back to school with the tools to succeed!

Our annual back to school drive has ensured over 120 kids started 2018 with the right tools they need succeed at school.

With many individuals, businesses, schools and community groups banding together over the last few months we've been able to help more kids then ever at this time of year. Unfortunately, demand has been higher than expected, meaning that there are still kids going to school without the basics.

Back to school costs can be a stressful time for most families, but for some it isn't even possible to send their child to school with the basics. One of the kids that received a school pack this year is a bright young man who has been working hard at learning the English language and catching up at school. His teachers say he's extremely bright and want to help him realise his dream of finishing his VCE in the next few years. But this kid didn't even have a pen he could bring to school.

That's why this annual RMCC initiative is pivotal in the success of kids realising their potential, because if you don't even a pen or exercise book to do your work within then how are you going to keep up with your peers at school or achieve your dreams?

To everyone that has supported this initiative, we thank you for making an important difference to the lives of these kids. It has been so exciting to watch these come together and overwhelming recognising the amount of support we have received.

Shout out to the following legends!

  • Green Collect
  • Visy Carer's Hub of Brimbank
  • Altona KMART
  • Officeworks Footscray
  • Officeworks Yarraville
  • Officeworks Richmond
  • Officeworks Altona North
  • Officeworks Maribyrnong
  • Brenbeal Children's Centre
  • Footscray City Primary School
  • Derrimut Coles
  • Surf Dive 'n' Ski Emporium
  • RMCC office staff and volunteers
  • All individual or anonymous donors!

Thanks for the support and for changing these kid's lives. We can't wait to make next year even bigger and better!!

Crime in Victoria

CRIME IN VICTORIA. LET’S LOOK AT THE FACTS.

CRIME IN VICTORIA. LETS LOOK AT THE FACTS.

In recent times, there has been a lot of talk about migrant communities and their over representation in crimes being committed in Victoria.

This has created a backlash against some of our communities from diverse backgrounds living in Victoria, such as the Sudanese and Somalian communities. Sources such as the media have been shaping people's opinion on crimes, often driven by emotion rather than facts, and pointing to certain communities rather than addressing the larger issue as a whole.

As a result, the general Australian public are forming bias involuntarily, with it almost becoming automatic to our senses that the moment we hear the word crime, we correlate that to a whole community based on ethnicity rather than to those individuals guilty of committing these unwanted offences.

So, what do the statistics say? 

  • The overall crime rate in Victoria fell to 6.2% in the last year, the biggest drop in 12 years
  • Among the crimes committed in 2017, people born in Sudan only make up 6% of recorded offences, compared with 71.5% born in Australia and 5.2% born in New Zealand
  • For some offences, proportionally numbers for these groups do indicate a higher offending rate
  • Statistics show a Victorian is 25 times more likely to be seriously assaulted by someone born in Australia or New Zealand than someone of African descent
  • 2015 report on racial bias by Victoria Police found young people born outside Australia are routinely stopped by police due to racial profiling

Why do these stats matter?

These statistics (taken from Victoria's Crims Statistic Agency) illustrate that migrant community over-representation in media is exaggerated and misleading. However, calls for harsher punishments and even deportation have materialised a negative narrative that seeks to blame and neglect youth from diverse backgrounds within our community based on their ethnicity, rather than support and guide those committing crimes toward positive pathways to adulthood. Rather than turning to these reactive “solutions” post-offence, it is far more sustainable for the wellbeing of everyone in our Victorian community to highlight preventative solutions that will facilitate meaningful change.

Moving forward

The situation occurring in Victoria today is as an opportunity to recognise the disadvantage and hardship of certain groups within our community, and acknowledge that we need a long-term solution of understanding, acceptance and support.

As Ahmed Hassan, Director of Youth Activating Youth perfectly sums up "We seemingly don’t have an African gang problem – what we do have is young people who are disadvantaged, who are disengaged, a young cohort who are coming together that are causing this mischievous activity”.

Therefore, for young groups, community or educational engagement is vital. Conversely, for the wider community, education and awareness are crucial to combat misunderstanding and unfair bias against certain groups within our community. Discussions about any group should always include an open dialogue about the countries and circumstances that many of our migrant groups have faced and the hardships that exist post-settlement, such as PTSD and isolation.

Your role?

Let’s change the conversation. No cultural background condones crime and it is misleading tying a whole demographic with the words crime or gang.

Such efforts toward engagement and awareness will assist us in identifying circumstances that may affect certain youth in Victoria. As a community, let’s move past the emotive reactions of frustration, misunderstanding and resentment and start to dig deeper together to create proactive and sustainable change.

For more info:

https://www.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au/media-centre/news/correction-of-country-of-birth-data-incorrectly-reported-and-attributed-to-the

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jan/03/is-melbourne-in-the-grip-of-african-gangs-the-facts-behind-the-lurid-headlines

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Migration/settlementoutcomes/Report/section?id=committees%2freportjnt%2f024098%2f25141

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Migration/settlementoutcomes/Report/section?id=committees%2freportjnt%2f024098%2f25141

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/14/racial-discrimination-and-harassment-still-rife-in-victoria-police-study-finds

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-02/street-gangs-are-a-problem-in-melbourne-police-admit/9297984

Our recent toy drive was an absolute smash!

It’s fair to say that our recent Toy Drive was an absolute smash! From classic board games and soft toys to reading books and kids crafts, the RMCC team were left totally overwhelmed by the sheer assortment of toys donated by the community.

Our Fundraising Intern, Jasmine, worked tirelessly throughout the whole donation drive to ensure it was a success! She first started to contact possible collection points in March and from there began to get the boxes ready and distribute them in April for collection. In May, it was time to collect each box and we were often left amazed by the number of donations. For example, when collecting from Holy Rosary Primary School, Jasmine, was met with an entire roomful of toys… far too many for her to bring back to RMCC’s Sunshine headquarters on the train!

There is no doubt that it takes a supportive community to provide opportunity, so we would like to thank the organisations who stepped up to be a collection points. In total, we had 12 collection points so we would like to thank the fantastic teams at Seddon Community Bank Branch, Phoenix St Children's Centre, Coburg North Primary School, Holy Rosary Primary School, Metropolis Bookshop, BeeKeeper Parade, St. Fidelis Catholic Primary School, Footscray North Primary School, Cummins Laverton, Angliss Children's Centre, Brenbeal Children's Centre and Footscray Library.

With around 1,000 toys donated in total, we will be giving the toys to families in the local vicinity to families encountering financial hardship. Already, more than 40 families have benefitted from the donations and if we’re honest we still have tons of toys left so this number will continue to rise! We look forward to bringing smiles to the faces of refugee and migrant children who gratefully receive the donations.