CEL Masthead Winter 18
one canberra

Celebrating One Canberra

Molly McLaughlin

Canberra’s cultural diversity is part of our city’s past, present and future.

One of the highlights of the annual calendar is the National Multicultural Festival in February and Canberra is generally open and welcoming, made up of people from all different backgrounds. In the most recent census, 28.6% of Canberrans were born outside Australia and in 21% of households two or more languages are spoken. Wenda Donaldson, Executive Director of Red Cross ACT and SE NSW and a partner of the One Canberra initiative, believes there is always more we can do.

“No community is immune from discrimination,” she explains. “Although I would say Canberra is among the most welcoming cities in the world, it is important that we work to maintain this.”

One Canberra aims to strengthen diversity in Canberra through programs developed with a range of communities. By engaging young people and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds through sport, leadership, community events, volunteering and forums, One Canberra wants to celebrate the openness that has made Canberra, and Australia, what it is today.

“One of the great things about Canberra is that we are so supportive of all people,” says Wenda. “As a community, our door has always been open to migrants of all forms. I hope that through One Canberra we can develop new ways to give more people more of a chance to talk about our diverse community.”

A unique aspect of One Canberra is its focus on consultation. Beginning at the One Canberra Symposium in 2014, One Canberra has worked with government and community leaders to develop strategies from a grassroots perspective.

“I want multicultural voices to become more common in mainstream public discourse,” says Wenda. “If I can help with that through One Canberra I will. The Symposium was a great discussion to have with the community and I am really proud of how we worked together.”

Wenda has seen the difference One Canberra can make through her role with the Red Cross in Canberra. She hopes to reach even more of Canberra’s vulnerable and encourage Canberrans to reflect on the contribution they can make to a more cohesive society.

“Recently we worked with many members of the local Muslim community to collect food hampers for people who were seeking asylum or were homeless,” she says. “It was a really good project to work on, but I think all the actions are great.”

Learn more about One Canberra and how you can get involved here: www.onecanberra4all.com

Photography by Martin Ollman


Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author