Culturally diverse populations: Building Harmony in the Cardinia Growth Corridor

In 2009 Windemere Child and Family Services submitted a project proposal to the Melbourne Community Foundation for the Building Harmony in the Cardinia Growth Corridor project.

The successful application saw Cardinia Shire Council and Monash University form a partnership and a steering committee consisting of five schools: Berwick Grammar School, Maranatha Christian College, Minaret College, Officer Primary School and St Brigid's Catholic Primary School.

The overall aim of the Building Harmony in the Cardinia Growth Corridor project was to conduct research and implement programs to improve cultural and religious harmony in the emerging growth corridor of Officer in Melbourne's south east.

Historically, the Shire of Cardinia had a small culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) population. However, projections based on migration trends and the experience of the neighbouring cities of Casey and Greater Dandenong identified an anticipated growth in CALD population groups. These projections were further supported by the arrival of various multi-faith schools in the areas which attracted an increasingly diverse local community.

The Building Harmony in the Cardinia Growth Corridor project sought to build the capacity of young people from diverse backgrounds, and that of their families' in the emerging community of Officer. Through enhancing social connectedness and cultural awareness the project aimed to build a community that could live harmoniously, and mitigate race-based crimes in growth corridors through preventative interventions.

The overall project objectives were to develop:

  • knowledge about cultural diversity
  • a diverse outlook in which students learn that knowledge is a social construction which is intrinsically linked to culture and experience
  • knowledge about social equality, racism, gender and discrimination
  • skills and values to preserve cultural diversity
  • a broad social competence around respect and empathy
  • a governance model where participating schools continue to collaborate on identified project objectives.

Project evaluations demonstrated positive changes. Schools were able to list specific changes in policies and programs that had occurred as a result of their involvement in the project and felt that students showed increased respect towards children from other cultures. Student surveys carried out before and after the project reinforced this perception with an increased number of students who agreed or strongly agreed that they were aware of and could learn from other religions and cultures.

Download Building Harmony in the Cardinia Growth Corridor - Findings Report 2010-2011 (PDF, 3.8MB) for more information.

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