VMC celebrates 35 years

23 August 2018

The Victorian Multicultural Commission recently celebrated 35 years of supporting multicultural communities and promoting diversity in our state.

Festivities brought together VMC Commissioners alongside past Commissioners, multicultural sector, and sports, arts and cultural organisations to be part of a special event at the Immigration Museum on 26 July 2018.

The evening commemorating the Commission’s more than three-decade legacy and thanking sponsors of Cultural Diversity Week 2018 was a warm occasion of tribute, reaffirming the VMC and its stakeholders’ commitment to Victoria’s diversity and bringing together generations of people who are passionate about social cohesion.

In a heartfelt speech to guests, VMC Chairperson Ms Helen Kapalos said Victoria had progressed significantly in terms of embracing diversity but the current divisive narratives around multiculturalism brought new challenges for the Commission’s work.

“We’ve come a long way from assimilating, tolerating and now integrating and accepting. In some ways, we’ve really moved the needle on our original mission. But in 2018, our mission deepens with race and immigration politics now on every major political stage around the world,” said Ms Kapalos.

Looking forward at the ongoing path to social cohesion, Ms Kapalos quoted University of Houston Research Professor Dr Brene Brown in saying creating a sense of belonging requires deep connection.

“True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. If we are going to change what is happening in a meaningful way we’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up and join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness. True belonging does not require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” she said.

Ms Kapalos was joined by Minister for Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott and Shadow Assistant Minister for Environment, Community and Volunteers, Cindy McLeish whose speeches to guests committed to the value of diversity in Victoria and paid tribute to the Commission’s legacy.

The night saw young people from diverse backgrounds take centre stage with a high energy ‘flash mob’ performance by youth dance group L2R, incredible breakdancing and crowd participation by Youth Activating Youth and the colour, movement and rhythms of Carnival with CaribVic Sperenza Entertainment. 

Follow some of the memories of the Commission’s 35 year legacy as we commemorate them at #VMCis35 at Facebook and Instagram.

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