Canberra is a diverse community and we are proud of our achievements to make Canberra a place where everyone feels welcome. We are committed to meeting the changing needs of Canberra’s multicultural communities.
More than 26 per cent of Canberrans were born overseas and one in four people speak a language other than English, with the most common languages spoken being Mandarin, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Hindi.
Celebrating our diversity
The ACT Government supports multicultural organisations and events to bring our community together, learn, understand and celebrate our diversity.
The Multicultural Festival in February 2019 attracted over 200,000 people. The Government has responded to community feedback and an independent review of the National Multicultural Festival. In the 2018-19 Budget Review, funding of nearly $2 million over four years was provided to enhance the festival as it grows. This expanded investment will ensure the Multicultural Festival remains a vibrant, community-focused event that celebrates Canberra’s cultural diversity and strengthens social inclusion. The National Multicultural Festival Grant Program provides funding to ACT based community organisations to participate at the Festival.
Our participation (Multicultural) Grants Program provides funding for community radio stations and multicultural community broadcasters, as well as initiatives that promote multicultural community participation, social harmony and inclusion.
On Harmony Day 2019, Canberra joined the Welcoming Cities network, a growing network of 135 cities, shires, towns and municipalities around the world that are supporting diversity and helping all members of the community to feel included, welcomed and have a sense of belonging. The Government will be undertaking a benchmarking assessment against the Welcoming Cities Standard.
The ACT Government is hosting a series of public forums furthering Canberra as an inclusive city. The first forum was held on the ‘Importance of Belonging’, in partnership with the South Sudanese community, to empower this community’s voice, highlight their contributions and explore how we best help people to feel welcome in Canberra.
Multicultural Advisory Council
The ACT Multicultural Advisory Council provides a forum for culturally diverse Canberrans to make their voices heard and to help shape the direction of ACT Government policies and services.
In 2018, the Multicultural Advisory Council hosted the ACT Multicultural Summit. This event produced the foundations of the Second Action Plan under the ACT Multicultural Framework 2015-2020, which guides the ACT Government to effectively deliver services to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, promote community harmony and create opportunities for all Canberrans to reach their full potential.
We are strengthening the ACT Services Access Card to better support asylum seekers living in Canberra. The Access Card makes it easier for asylum seekers to access the full range of services available to them and can decrease the stress or trauma of retelling their story over again.
Other initiatives with ongoing support include:
- The Community Group Directory, helping connect individuals with various community groups in Canberra and to support similar organisations to build relationships and work together.
- Overseas Qualifications Assessments, providing a free service for permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers and humanitarian entrants living in the ACT, which broadly compares their overseas qualifications to Australian qualifications.
- The Work Experience and Support Program, helping people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to gain office skills and Australian workplace experience.
Connecting refugee women to jobs in the ACT Public Service
Toni* joined the ACT Government’s Work Experience and Support Program in February 2019.
This program helps people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, who are building a new life in Canberra, to gain office skills and experiences in Australian workplaces.
After four weeks of formal training in office skills and eight weeks of work experience in the ACT Government’s Justice and Community Safety Directorate, Toni graduated the program with a nationally recognised Certificate II in Business and has gone on to be employed by the ACT Public Service.
“It was after a long and painful journey that I settled in Australia and I sometimes wonder how I am able to describe the horror and the hardships I have been through,” Toni says of her experience.
“My life has come with many challenges, wounds and scars but the hardest thing I have ever had to do was to leave my children behind. Now in Australia I feel that I can use this opportunity to move forward and create a better life in Canberra.”
*Not her real name.