Promoting multicultural inclusion in the Cairns region

On 23 June QCOSS and Centacare hosted a half-day workshop on multicultural inclusion in the Cairns region.  The workshop was well attended and focused on important discussions regarding ‘unconscious bias’, and the importance of increasing uptake and quality of engagement with interpreters.  Ruth Venables from the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland provided an overview of unconscious bias – what it is; where it comes from; and how it can impact on decision making.  The open discussion elicited a number of areas in which participants recognized the impacts of unconscious bias – in the classroom, in hiring practices, in policy development, and in our own individual relationships. 

A centrepiece of the day was a role play activity presented by Tejman Monger of the Centacare Multicultural Services’ bicultural workers team to highlight the importance of engaging interpreters.  The roleplay in fact reversed roles, providing participants with a view into the difficulties and risks of decision-making without access to language services. 

Kamil Shah from QCOSS followed up with a discussion on the topic of engaging and working with interpreters.  Workshop participants raised a number of reasons why uptake of interpreters is an imperative – it was a right, it was essential for positive outcomes, and not doing so put both the client and the organization at risk.  Discussion then turned to how to make interpreter uptake a reality in each of our organizations.  This included discussion of the need for organization policy, consistent and comprehensive staff training, and persistent work to continue to improve on our cultures of inclusion.  Kamil also offered a set of tools to help both organizations and individuals working within this space – these included a policy guide and template for engaging and working with interpreters, as well as key E-Training modules hosted on Community Door.

Elizabeth O’Brien from Multicultural Affairs Queensland also presented on key actions and processes articulated in the Queensland Government’s Multicultural Action Plan; and Tracey John from Centacare Multicultural Services provided a snapshot of multiculturalism in the Cairns region. 

Queries regarding the workshop may be directed to Kamil Shah, QCOSS on kamils@qcoss.org.au