Intercultural Futures

25th September 2019

Matters of Interest 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:53): Over recent months, I have been pleased to work with Ms Alexandra McGee, the project coordinator at Welcome Australia, on a program called Intercultural Futures. I have attended two forums as part of that program, on Saturday 18 May and Saturday 14 September at The Welcome Centre in Bowden. As I think many of us know, Welcoming Australia exists to cultivate a culture of welcome and create a future where people of all backgrounds have equal opportunity to belong, contribute and thrive. 

The Intercultural Futures program is aimed at developing leadership skills and capacity in young leaders, furthering social cohesion in South Australia and showcasing this state as a destination of choice for people from overseas looking to make their home here. It encourages perspectives from First Nation people and those from recent refugee and migrant backgrounds. 

The program hosts a group of participants from a wide range of backgrounds, including nations within Europe, Africa and Asia and, I am not sure, possibly also South America. The group meets on one Saturday and one Sunday every month and attends workshops that are designed to develop practical skills and knowledge that will help members of the group to build the confidence to pursue leadership positions in their communities and in the general South Australian community, as well as in their chosen fields of education and employment. 

The program facilitates training in self-awareness, team building and team working, public speaking, writing, acquitting grants and many other topics. The participants have attended workshops held by mentors from Aboriginal, Chinese, Italian, Anglo, Greek, Korean and Iranian communities, among others. Speakers and trainers from a range of backgrounds are invited, including business and education and even from politics. 

In that vein, I have been pleased, on two occasions, as I said, to provide some background to my leadership experience, certainly through sport and through the sheep industry but also in developing the specific areas of focus that I have been able to provide within the parliament, particularly in relation to suicide prevention and surrogacy legislation. I must say that, at both forums but specifically at the most recent one, there was great interest in that work. 

I think there is a great potential for those social issues that have long been the subject of stigma across the broader Australian community, particularly in a lot of the newer communities, to be discussed more fervently. I am very confident that the leadership that these young people display will go on to assist them not only in maintaining their culture but also in providing particular leadership skills within the broader South Australian community. 

On that note, I must say that there is a young man whom I know—I think he is from an Iranian background—who is involved as a coproprietor of a pizza shop that I occasionally frequent, who actually was surprised to see me turn up as a speaker. He described me as, ‘He’s my client!’ That young man has shown great potential. He has really appreciated the support that Alexandra McGee and this program have provided to him, and he is planning a major event within his own community. 

I commend the work of Welcoming Australia in this particular area of the Intercultural Futures program and the way in which they are assisting people to belong, contribute and thrive in our South Australian community.