With more than one-quarter of its residents born overseas, the Gold Coast is undeniably a melting pot of cultures.
But perhaps what’s more indicative of the city’s diversity is that fact it boasts a population made up of 80 different nationalities and languages, making it the second most diverse region in Queensland.
Helping to nurture a socially inclusive community since 1983, the Multicultural Communities Council Gold Coast (MCCGC) provides support and delivers a range of programs to connect the increasing number of migrants, refugees and new international arrivals.
We spoke to the organisation’s project manager Troy Nicholls, who is busy organising this year’s Harmony Day celebrations on March 21. He says on the back of last year’s successful pop-up event, the festivities this year include more cultural dance workshops, music and cultural performances at more public locations.
Fun Fact: Harmony’s Day official colour is orange because traditionally it’s the colour related to social communication and stimulating two-way conversations.
Mr Nicholl’s says the aim of a pop-up celebration is to connect with people who might not usually be exposed to the event or know of the diversity to be found and valued on the Gold Coast.
“Passers-by at public spaces will be given no choice but to consider why are these people here from so many services and who are these local performers,” he says.
Acts have been chosen to reflect the growing diversity of the city, with representatives from Samoa and Indonesia popping up across the central Gold Coast. Chang Po Ching, a contestant from The Voice, and the GC Hula Dance school will join the buses north, while Afro-Cuban dancers, Thai and Brazilian communities head south. The State Minister for Multicultural Affairs Stirling Hinchcliffe is also expected to attend.
“This year we’re also taking Harmony Day to more schools than ever, nine are involved, from Tweed to Ormeau, as well as workplaces and public spaces such as Dreamworld, Coomera Westfield, Gold Coast Private Hospital. The finale, being hosted by Ashmore State School, is where all buses combine and perform at an event open to the broader community from 1-3pm.”
There is also the Harmony Multicultural Festival which will be held on 30 March and includes delicious international foods, free Interactive traditional instrumental workshops, multicultural performances, free face painting, fun kids activities, lots of prizes to be won and much more!
Did you know?
• After English, the top five languages spoken on the Gold Coast are Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Cantonese
• The top ten countries represented are New Zealand, United Kingdom, China, South Africa, Japan, India, Philippines, Korea, Germany, USA.
(Source: Arrival in 2016 Census Data)
But Harmony Day isn’t the only successful event or project the MCCGC runs in its bid to spread the message of harmony, inclusion and respect for all Gold Coasters, other events include:
International Café – August
Celebrating its 12th year in 2019, International Café is MCCGC’s annual signature event celebrating Queensland Multicultural Month and Queensland Seniors Week. Held at the Southport Church of Christ, it aims to have representation from all cultural communities within the Gold Coast together to celebrate the city’s diversity and its senior citizens.
“This event is the only inter-generational and multicultural community-based event of its size in the region, promoting inclusion and supporting the local community. By keeping it fun, friendly and interactive, this event brings everyone together facilitating conversations and leaving attendees with a positive and inspiring outlook on multiculturalism and ageing,” he says.
Walk Together – October
Organised in conjunction with the Gold Coast Multicultural Network and held at Broadwater Parklands, it’s a day “for community connection and belonging, reminding all Australians that no matter who you are, where you come from or how you arrived, we share a future of security, peace, opportunity and belonging,” Mr Nicholls says.
“All nationalities are invited to hoist their countries flags with much positive discussion before, during and after the walk. The key feature of the event is the multicultural stops along the walk which differ each year to highlight particular countries and fun interactive demonstrations in unity, under the banner of Walk Together marching in traditional costume/dress.”
With more than 30 years’ experience, CURA is well known and regarded for its role in helping people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds connect with the Gold Coast community and have equal access to appropriate health and wellbeing services.
“We have over 30 languages represented in our staff which helps it to match language with support people are needing in their own homes,” he says. While CURA mainly specialises in Home Care Packages, it also provides Private Services and the Community Visitor Scheme.
This year MCCGC is working with ACCESS Community Services to deliver Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) programs. It helps support humanitarian entrants, other eligible permanent migrants and their communities, to address their settlement needs to improve social participation, economic well-being, independence, personal well-being and community connectedness.
“Our focus will be supporting women and youth through community outreach many of whom show much resilience when coming to start a new life in Australia and may need someone to guide and connect them to the broader community in the first five years of their journey. This may include how to understand and navigate Gold Coast services and access education and employment opportunities, this program is funded by the Department of Social Services.”
I speak your language
This volunteer-based cultural support program delivers a free social support phone call to isolated Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) participants throughout Queensland. Based on the successful groundwork of its first year and partnership with Red Cross Southport, the extension of I speak your language into 2019 has recruited new languages and volunteers.
The project continues to increase migrant and refugee volunteer participation and build a sense of belonging for these volunteers within the Gold Coast region while supporting primarily vulnerable isolated non-English speaking Queenslanders. More than 12 languages are available.