Donald Trump’s presidential victory is a “wake up call” for Australians to embrace people on the periphery of our society, Ballarat Region Multicultural Council chair Constantine Osuchukwu said.
Mr Osuchukwu said some of the former reality TV star’s success in his campaign for the White House was borne on a tide of disenfranchised Americans.
He will speak at the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria’s statewide conference in Ballarat on Friday to discuss the challenges facing multiculturalism in Australia.
Mr Osuchukwus said he was still hopeful that “the best lies ahead”.
“It is a wake up call for us to make sure we don’t have people who are disempowered in our own communities,” Mr Osuchukwu said.
“I think our role is to continue to open up diversity and cohesion and to continue to build a Ballarat where everybody is loved and cared for and is enabled to contribute to our community.
“To go to the peripheries of Ballarat and make sure we are doing everything we can to make jobs for people, to reach out them and make sure every Ballarat citizen has the opportunity to maximise their potential.”
ECCV chair Eddie Micallef said the week’s events “put a strain on multiculturalism”, which has also been under fire in domestic politics.
But Mr Trump’s election could also “prompt people who don’t usually speak to speak out,” he said.
“Pauline Hanson and her ilk will certainly be encouraged by the Trump ascendancy (but) I don’t think we should dwell on the American situation, what our conference is about is the next generation of multicultural Victoria.
“From the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria point of view we say ‘don’t attack the Pauline Hansonites personally, stick to the issues, the benefits of multiculturalism.
“Don’t dwell on them but dwell on the positives, that we live in one of the most supportive multicultural communities in the world – if not the (most supportive).”
ECCV’s statewide conference “The Next Generation of Multicultural Victoria: Intergenerational Perspectives” will be opened on Friday by Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott.
Speakers include Victorian Multicultural Commission chair Helen Kapalos, community leaders, multiculturalism experts and youth representatives.
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