CEO message: March

Our multicultural and multifaith communities have celebrated a number of significant events this month, including the Festival of Holi, Nowruz, and the beginning of Ramadan. We hope all of our friends observing these special occasions have enjoyed peaceful and joyful celebrations.

Cultural Diversity Week (11-21 March) provides an opportunity each year for us to celebrate the strengths of our multicultural community, while also reflecting on the significant challenges we still face and the work that needs to be done to foster a more welcoming and inclusive Victoria.

During the week, the CMY team was part of a number of key events including the annual Victorian Multicultural Gala Dinner, hosted by the Victorian Multicultural Commission and attended by the Premier, Opposition Leader and Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

CMY Directors Shelin David, Shabnam Safa and CEO Carmel Guerra at the Victorian Multicultural Gala Dinner 2023. Image credit: supplied

The event was once again a wonderful opportunity to bring together and celebrate the many different communities that contribute to our state. It was a festive occasion that we were happy to share with the young people and staff on our table.

Our Le Mana Pasifika team hosted an event with Victoria Legal Aid to launch their new joint publication, “Citizenship, young people and the law”, a game-changer legal information resource for the Pasifika community. Meanwhile, the CMSport team joined forces with Tennis Australia to host an event focused on listening to the lived experience of youth advocates, Mohamed Semra and Hashwina Vimalarajan, and exploring how sport can create a more inclusive environment for young people.

Both of these events took place on 21 March, which marked the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This year was the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), with the impetus to combat racism more urgent than ever.

The Australian Human Rights Commission recently released this fact sheet about the history of the day, which explores how ‘harmony’ hides structural and systemic racism. I encourage you all to read it.

I also encourage you to read this insightful ABC opinion piece from CMY alumni and youth-led unit committee member, Thomas Feng, reflecting on his own family’s experiences and how telling migrants to be ‘grateful’ overlooks the hardships and sacrifices of migration.

We know all too well that racism is a significant and entrenched social issue in Australia, affecting the lives of multicultural young people daily. From our schools, to our workplaces, to our sporting fields – spaces that young people should feel safe and a sense of belonging.

We must commit to an anti-racist society and work together with urgency to address racist attitudes and behaviours, and to change the structural conditions perpetuating racism. It is truly everyone’s responsibility.

Carmel Guerra OAM
Chief Executive Officer