South Australia’s multicultural diversity and inclusivity are what make us great, and on 12 November it’s time to celebrate that. From a Chinese Dragon Dance to Scottish bagpipes, here’s what to expect at the first annual Multicultural Festival.
Multicultural SA – the lowdown
South Australia’s tradition of welcoming migrants means our State includes cultures from more than 200 birthplace groups speaking 180 languages and practising 95 religions, according to the latest census. Around 24 per cent of South Australia’s population was born overseas. That’s almost one quarter of the state’s whole population, an impressive stat that’s stayed consistent since the mid-1960s.
Where Europe-born people once made up nearly all migrants to SA, today this colourful cohort boasts people from all continents, with the highest numbers migrating from Europe, Asia and Africa.
And our State continues to be the proud home to First Nations people including the Kaurna, Ngarrindjeri, Adnyamathanha, Kokatha, Narungga and Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara language groups.
SA’s rich history has created a multicultural fabric that now defines our collective identity.
What multiculturalism means to SA
Multiculturalism is defined by the State Government as “the cultural diversity of the South Australian community who live and work harmoniously, can fully participate in all aspects of life while maintaining and giving expression to their distinctive cultural heritages”.
Lenard Sciancalepore – who is the Community Connections and Engagement Leader of Community Language Schools SA, which will be taking part in the Multicultural Festival for the first time this year – says learning to speak to someone in their own language is an incredibly important way to connect across cultures.
But for Lenard, multiculturalism in South Australia is “more than just words on a page”: “It’s the food that you eat, the music you listen to, the dances you perform, the family that you’re surrounded by. It’s the context within which language sits and what that really looks like to a lot of young people,” he says.
Community Language Schools SA exemplifies our “cultural diversity”, with 47 different languages being taught to 9000 students at 100 different language schools across the state.
“It’s a really fabulous ethnic mosaic of different multicultural communities in the state,” Lenard says.
How SA’s multiculturalism is being recognised
Last year the State Government released the first South Australian Multicultural Charter, translated into more than 30 community languages, which includes six principles to create a more unified, harmonious and inclusive multicultural society. You can read the Charter’s six principles and test your knowledge of multiculturalism with our quiz here.
The idea is that the Charter can be implemented by people across South Australia – not just in Government. That’s why there’s a handy guide available to download. It’s full of practical ideas and examples to help South Australians promote inclusivity and diversity in their clubs, organisations and workplaces.
Listen to episode 7 of our Hot Topics podcast: State of multiculturalism
Festivals are how we celebrate multiculturalism
Previously biennial, the first annual Multicultural Festival will see Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga come alive from 11am to 5pm, 12 November. It’s the perfect day out where you can enjoy yourself while also learning something new about our State’s rich cultural mix.
The exciting program features around 75 performances, activities and stalls from SA’s diverse cultural groups. There’s something to entertain everyone, of every age. And did we mention it’s free?
Hosted by Multicultural Affairs in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, this is the state government’s flagship multicultural event, attracting crowds of more than 7000 in 2021. This year is set to be even bigger, with a day of live music, dance, tasty treats, art and plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained.
A taste of what’s on
The massive line-up of live music and dance includes a Chinese Dragon Dance, flamenco, Scottish bagpipes and Burundian drummers. At the workshops and art and craft area, you can try making a Ukrainian Motanka doll, creating Pakistani truck art, learning a Bollywood dance routine and playing an Indonesian angklung instrument. And when all that makes you hungry, you can browse 37 stalls selling delicious food, drink and a range of interesting goods from cultures around the world.
“It’s just going to be a huge day. You can experience many of the world’s cultures right here in the heart of Adelaide and celebrate what multiculturalism is here,” Lenard says.
“We see so much division around the world … and to see that the State Government is really having multiculturalism high on its agenda, to see that we’re celebrating it and creating that environment of peace and a South Australia that we want to live in is just fabulous.”
See the full Multicultural Festival 2023 program here.