The Western Bulldogs Community Foundation has celebrated Cultural Diversity Week, hosting a panel breakfast event featuring members from different cultural communities.
Nearly 100 people from local schools, community organisations, and cultural groups in the west filled Barkers Café on Wednesday morning, alongside members from Victoria Police, the AFL, Netball Australia, Tennis Australia and Victoria University.
Western Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains was one of four guest speakers, alongside Amnesty International and Victoria Multicultural Commission (VMC) Commissioner Shankar Kasynathan, WorkSafe Victoria’s Veema Mooniapah, and Deputy Mayor of Brimbank City Council Cr Jasmine Nguyen.
All panellists shared their thoughts on this year’s theme - ‘what does multicultural Victoria look like in 2030?’ - and how the football industry can continue to drive change and start conversations.
“Football is such a great vehicle to connect with people within and across the community. It has probably been the way in which I’ve felt a part of things and belonged,” Bains said on the day.
“I think the AFL continues to be a leader in (diversity) from a sporting context – not just the AFL as an organisation, but the AFL industry and obviously from a biased point of view we’d say our Club is a big leader in that.
“I think we can always do more; you go to AFL games and it’s pleasing it’s not sort of dissimilar to the collective audience that’s here today as you do see a lot of people from different backgrounds, but I think the ongoing challenge that we have is - whether it’s in the football side of the men’s and women’s game, or even in the senior leadership ranks of commentators and more prominent positions – there clearly isn’t enough diversity reflected in those ranks. I think that remains the obligation for all of us to continue to pursue.”
Commissioner Kasynathan thanked the Club and Community Foundation’s support and dedication to making a change.
“In (Amnesty International’s) 60-year history, particularly on refugee rights, we’ve had to be cautious about partnering with sporting clubs because we don’t want to wake up in the morning and be involved in a scandal,” Kasynathan said.
“We’ve chosen one club to work with in the last 60 years, and that’s the Western Bulldogs.
“It’s the work of Kash (WBCF General Manager Kashif Bouns) over the last couple of years and the Foundation, that we can give the human rights equivalent of an AAA rating to the Western Bulldogs.
“We know that the work that’s done here is genuine – this is a Club that gets on with the job and doesn’t worry about where the money is coming from.”
WBCF CALDplay past participants Don Tran and Amy Luong also shared their stories on the day.
Following the panel event, more than 100 newly arrived Australians from English Language schools competed for the WorkSafe CALDplay Cup in the CALDplay Netball Gala.
Cultural Diversity Week runs from Sunday 21 March to Sunday 28 March.