A new roundtable is set to meet to tackle the broader trends of racism and lack of social inclusion across Shepparton. Representatives from various cultural and Aboriginal communities, the Victorian Multicultural Commission, government departments and agencies, Greater Shepparton City Council and Greater Shepparton Secondary College will form a roundtable to meet later this month.
Point of Difference Studio executive manager and Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District staff member Betul Tuna and Victorian Multicultural Commission chairperson Vivienne Nguyen will co-chair the roundtable.
Ms Nguyen said the introduction of the Shepparton Cultural Inclusion Roundtable was an important step for Shepparton.
“Shepparton is one of regional Victoria’s most diverse communities – so it’s vital we do everything we can to ensure it remains strong and cohesive,” Ms Nguyen said.
“The roundtable will look at long-term, meaningful action we can take to strengthen the community and the various faiths and cultures that call it home.”
Ms Nguyen said the group aimed to get to the issue behind challenges in the community and work out how to best work through them.
“It’s about creating a socially inclusive society,” she said.
Ms Tuna said the roundtable was being led by the community, for the community.
“Communities are committed to working together to remove the barriers to ensure that everyone has equality of access and opportunity,” she said.
Ms Tuna said the roundtable would be able to assist the whole community and was not just a response to recent incidents at Greater Shepparton Secondary College.
“We are a systemic racist country,” she said.
“I would hate to think this is just a response to the school situation.
“The community has been experiencing racism well before the (school) merger happened.
“This is long overdue.”
She said the roundtable would be able to address racism in the community, including in employment, housing and justice areas.
Ms Tuna said metropolitan areas had similar groups, but she thought this was the first of its type in a regional area.
Members of the roundtable will include the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc, the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District, the Department of Education, the Centre for Multicultural Youth and Victoria Police.
Victorian Multicultural Affairs Minister Ros Spence applauded the creation of the roundtable.
“We welcome the formation of the roundtable that will assist in devising important practical actions to support the community,” Ms Spence said.