A love of food, music and stories is common to young people in most cultures. Students
at southern Tasmanian schools have been learning first-hand about the differences and similarities during a short course in diversity education.
Tasmanian teachers can contact us for a comprehensive
list of web and library resources on cultural diversity and discrimination.
project is a collaboration between the Hobart College Students Against
Racism, the Tasmanian Centre for Global Learning and the Alcorso Foundation.
The Hobart College group has 35 members most of whom have come to Tasmania
as humanitarian entrants – from countries as diverse as Sudan, Afghanistan,
and Bhutan. As well as music and food, they share their stories about
settling in Australia and the pain and pleasure of working out how to live
between two cultures.
Jake Buckland, a student at Cygnet Primary School, said that he was
surprised by the experiences the Hobart College students had been through.
“I didn’t really know much about what people had gone through before they
came to Australia, now I understand why they left their homelands and why
they need a safe place like Australia to settle.”
High student Isaac Bannister said, “I learned so much because it was
young people teaching us. They made a real connection and they talked in a
way we could understand. I had heard a lot about asylum seekers and refugees
but actually meeting people who had been through that experience made me
realise that this affects real people who all have their own story to tell.
It was a great way to learn.”
Project Officer, Nene Manasseh says, “It’s also a great learning
experience for the Hobart College students as they are able to build their
language and public speaking skills. It’s a great boost to their confidence
when they see that the school students are really interested in their
stories and cultures.”
Students Against Racism group was first formed in 2008 at the instigation of
their teacher, Gini Ennals, at Hobart College. Gini worked with the group to
develop a dramatic presentation that explains why they left their
homelands, the journey that brought them to Australia and their lives now.
Their aim in developing the presentation was to be proactive in the face of
the racism they encountered, which they felt came from a lack of
understanding about why asylum seekers, refugees and migrants were settling
Living in Between has since been developed into a series of workshops
for school groups that involves performance and activities.
get students out of their chairs and engaging with issues around culture,
diversity and why people settle in Australia. Many students, who themselves
have experienced discrimination or the feeling of being an "outsider", find
that they can empathise with the stories of the College students.
In 2009, the group won the Tasmanian
Human Rights School Award "for reaching out to build understanding of
people from different cultures". This was the beginning of their
partnership with the Tasmanian Centre for Global Learning which created the
award and works extensively with schools on improving human rights and
social justice education.
The group also won an Amnesty Human Rights Innovation grant that has allowed
them to commission the making of a short documentary about the group and
their groundbreaking work. The film is due for completion in November 2011.
Living in Between: Diversity Education through Storytelling was trialled
at 5 southern Tasmanian schools
during 2011: Cygnet
Primary, Huonville High, Kingston High, Cosgrove High and St Aloysius
The 2011 development of the program and trials were funded by the
Tasmanian Community Fund and the Sidney Myer Fund.
The 2012 and 2013 school programs have been funded by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship through the Diversity and Social Cohesion Program. The Australian Government is committed to addressing issues of cultural, racial and
religious intolerance by promoting respect, fairness, inclusion and a sense of belonging for everyone. The Government believes that strong social cohesion is best developed by projects that bring all Australians together and in particular create connections across the community.
For more information on the Diversity and Social Cohesion Program, visit
The 2013 Australian Government funding will allow the program to be run at a further four schools.
Funding from the Alcorso Foundation is providing further training and
allowing members of the Students Against Racism to do short presentations
for schools, workplaces, conferences and special events. Presentations can range from 15 minutes (sharing stories) to 1½ hours (includes activities that encourage participants to engage with issues around culture and diversity and why people settle in Australia)
and can be adapted to suit the needs of individual workplaces or events.
To find out more about the program
Senator Lisa Singh launches the 2012 program on Harmony Day, 2012
“When I first heard about the "Living in Between Project" at the end of 2010 I was keen for Cygnet Primary School to be involved. However I could never have predicted how extensive the benefits would be for our whole school community. This project has had a significantly positive impact on our year 6 students and also on their families and our wider school community. The project links directly to our school value of Respect and I am keen for the Cygnet Primary School to be involved in the future. Congratulations to all those involved!!.”
Kathryn Morgan, Principal, Cygnet Primary School
“Through this project our students came to realise that everyone shares the same feelings, no matter where they have lived, what their culture might be and no matter the colour of their skin.
We learned what it means to be a refugee or an asylum seeker. We shared our cultures through language, music, dance and food. We embraced each other. And through new understandings, our students' attitudes shifted in a
significant way. They came to realise that while people may look different on the outside and have different customs, inside we all share the same feelings and have the same needs - we are, in fact, the same. And we can
and should join together in our communities to lead happy and fruitful lives with each other.”
Darryl Williams, Teacher, Cygnet Primary School
“... I think the program is a huge success. The format works well and I know many of the students found their views had changed in some way after the sessions. I don't think any areas need to be improved and having the students tell their personal stories at the beginning
creates respect and understanding from the outset. Our students developed
greater empathy and understanding for people who arrive in Australia due to
war, natural disaster etc. They now have knowledge as to why certain people
have come to Australia and they have significantly improved their
other countries for example, geography, language, culture etc. Some of my
students developed greater confidence in sharing their own personal
experiences. I believe some of them felt that if others can tell their
difficult and traumatizing stories to a group of strangers then it's okay
for them to stand up and share a piece of work or opinion on this topic.” Kate O'Reilly,
Teacher, Kingston High School
“It was a privilege to work with the young people in the group. They were all so generous with their deeply personal information. It was heartening to see our young students treat the group members with respect and interest. The SAR young adults are making successes of their lives despite (or even, because of?) their experiences. They had a powerful message for our students about perseverance, acceptance and generosity.”
Janet Potter, Advanced Skills Teacher, Kingston High School
“We felt very fortunate to be part of this program. There are a large number of humanitarian entrant (HE) students at Cosgrove High School who found the sessions particularly interesting and relevant to them. Some of our HE students commented afterwards that they felt that their interactions with their peers had improved and were more positive as a result of the program. They also enjoyed greeting each other in different languages and commented
that they would like their teachers to provide more opportunities to bring their languages and other aspects of their culture into the classroom. The workshops were engaging and inclusive, and provided great starting points for discussion. Overall the program was a great success and we would love to be part of the program again next year so that a different year group and their teachers can take part!”
Sally Schofield, EAL Teacher, Cosgrove High School
“My students have learnt an extremely important life lesson. Before our
sessions they had absolutely no idea what
a refugee was and just how hard it
was to come to a country like Australia. I think they have learnt why it is vital for us
to be tolerant of everybody no matter who they are. After our session, my students have gained a greater level of tolerance to all types of difference. Hearing the stories told by their leaders and just seeing how it had affected their lives helped them understand how lucky they are. Conversations around our sessions in the classroom showed me that my students understood the bigger picture.”
Mark Bowden, Teacher, Cosgrove High School
“Without doubt our students made some extraordinary progress towards becoming far more knowledgeable, tolerant, understanding and compassionate as a result of their participation in the
Living In Between project.
The Huon Valley is not known for its cultural diversity - the population is fairly homogenous and generally our young people have only a limited understanding of other cultures. This project offered our school an amazing opportunity to connect our students with an incredible group of young people, each of whom had a remarkable story to tell.
For our students to meet the SAR group, hear about their individual journeys, work with them in developing ideas
around home, life, need, want, future and family was a real eye opener for most of them. Their existing ideas about refugees and asylum seekers were challenged and they have undoubtedly come away with a more balanced view of why it is necessary for Australia to offer refuge to people from other countries. This only occurred as a result of the courage and bravery of the SAR students in telling their incredibly moving stories.
For many of our students the highlight of the program was the opportunity to join with the group and share experiences through dancing and drumming workshops. So much energy was generated in the room it was palpable!
So, for the 50 or so Huonville High School students who participated in the program it was definitely a worthwhile experience. A big thank-you must go to Gini for her amazing work in facilitating our sessions and keeping nearly 70 people on track at all times! Also, thanks of course to Nene and the SAR students who led our students through much of their learning and finally to the TCGL who gave us the opportunity to host the program. We look forward to watching the program go from strength to strength, spreading the message of understanding and tolerance.
Nicola Smith, Pathway Planning Officer, Huonville High School
This is what students from the pilot schools said they enjoyed about
Kingston High I enjoyed hearing their stories and what they had to go through to get a better life. It was interesting listening to their stories. I enjoyed meeting new people, learning about their lives and how they
speak and dance. The whole time with them was really fun. Learning about different cultures and languages, working in groups,
seeing other people talk instead of teachers. Huonville High Meeting really cool people whose stories inspired me and give me
more understand. I loved it all. The stories they told us about their journey and life. I also enjoyed
the dancing. That they related to us to help us understand.
Cosgrove High People being brave and talking to a whole group of people and sharing their stories. In the groups talking about their past. Hearing their stories and what they had to do to travel to Australia. That they all have a story and no one listens to them so this way helps. Listening [to] different cultures and sharing different stories from different countries.
Primary When we did the dance with the girls. The food, the posters,
everything pretty much. The song. It was really fun and funny hanging out with the Hobart College
This is what students from the pilot schools said they
learned from the program:
Cygnet Primary Not to be racist. That it does not matter what you look like, its what's on the inside
that counts. Cosgrove High I got a better understanding of racism and how awful it is. To respect everyone and treat them equally. I learnt that people from other countries are more like me than what I
thought they were. Kingston High That we really take a lot of stuff for granted, and the way
that people all around the world are living bad lives. That asylum seeker means safety seeker. That reasons for leaving your home country are traumatic but people get
through it and try to put their life back together. Huonville High How hard their lives have been and
that we should appreciate what we have. I got so much valuable information about other religions and countries
that I can pass on to others. I learnt mostly that racism is not okay, and how people bullying others from different countries is wrong.
The project was created to explicitly address the racism, prejudice and intolerance shown to the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community in Tasmania, specifically to people who have come to Tasmania as refugees.
We believe that acts of discrimination and racism occur as a result of:
A lack of understanding about why refugees, asylum seekers and migrants leave their homelands and settle in Tasmania. Without adequate knowledge, misinformation spreads and breeds a climate of fear towards these people; and
A lack of opportunity for Tasmanians to get to know people who have arrived as refugees and explore the issues of racism in an explicit way so that the reasons for, and consequences of, racism are understood.
By combining the personal experiences of the Hobart College Students Against Racism and the education resources of the Tasmanian Centre for Global Learning the project aimed to:
Recruit new members to the Students Against Racism group and provide them with the opportunity to:
develop the Living in Between performance with the assistance of a drama teacher;
improve their self-confidence, communication and leadership skills;
organise, co-ordinate and deliver activities for other students; and
be proactive in the community and find their “voice”.
Provide other young people from diverse cultures with positive role models that will
enhance their self-esteem and public image.
Build on the existing performance to create a series of three workshops that would provide Tasmanian students with:
an opportunity to meet and hear the personal stories of young people from diverse cultures and backgrounds;
real knowledge of why people are forced to leave their homelands, of the enormous numbers of displaced people around the world, and of Australia’s responsibility to help displaced people and those who seek asylum; and
a structured and safe environment to jointly explore the wider issues of discrimination and diversity in our community.
Provide teachers with resources to support further work within the school curriculum
on issues of discrimination and diversity.
26 Hobart College students participated in the school visits. The majority of these had arrived in Australia as humanitarian entrants (refugees).
However, some Australian born students have joined the group from a desire to do something about the racism and discrimination they have witnessed and which has
made them feel ashamed.
The College students made three 90 minute visits to each school. All
sessions were facilitated by EAL teacher and SAR coordinator, Gini Ennals.
A key aspect of the visits was the creation of small groups comprising a
humanitarian entrant College
student (as the group leader) with 2 or 3 school students.
These groups worked together over the course of the visits to provide the
opportunity for building closer relationships.
Activities and discussions undertaken by the groups over the 3 visits covered
all aspects of the refugee experience:
What is culture and what are its components?
Where did my ancestors come from and why?
Where did other people’s ancestors come from and why?
Sharing aspects of our cultures: language, customs, songs and dance, religion, music etcetera.
The refugee experience
Presentation of the stories of the College students using the Living in Between presentation which moves through the phases of Homeland, Journey, Arriving, Living in Between and Now.
Getting to know a refugee in small groups.
The value of possessions and the experience of dispossession.
Facts and myths
International migration, the reasons for people being forced to leave their homelands.
The difference between refugees and migrants and the refugee process.
Defining asylum seekers and a discussion of "boat people".
Australia's international responsibilities under United Nations Conventions.
Racism and discrimination
The needs and challenges of new arrivals.
What is racism?
Relating racism to other forms of discrimination: sharing stories:
feelings and consequences.
Individual and collective responsibility for confronting racism.
Students responded to the sessions with the Hobart College Students Against
Racism in a number of ways, through art, poetry, essay, and video. Kingston High students even baked a
We Can Make a Difference cake complete
with a green and blue icing map of the world! All pieces reflected the
strong impact made by the stories of the College students' lives: many were moving in the depth of their reflection.
A small sample of their work is shown throughout this web page.
When did you join the Students Against Racism group? I joined SAR in 2008 when I first came to Hobart College.
What prompted you to join? After telling my story to my teacher she told me that it would be good for me to tell others to help them build understanding of issues about refugees and asylum seekers. The group wasn’t operating then and I was the first member.
What were those early days in the group like? Gini brought in Justin Kenyi and Jean Murray to start the group. We all got along very well because we had similar experiences and got to know each other better. We started to rehearse our stories with Gini. The first time I told it in public I was scared and nervous, but the audience – Hobart College students and teacher - was great and Gini said no one could notice I was shaky. I felt pretty good when it was over and it was a great boost to my confidence.
How are things in the group different now? I’ve done my story more than 40 times in public now and I don’t feel nervous any more. There are now about 35 in the group but it still has the same feeling of togetherness. The backgrounds are more diverse now; there are Australian born students as well as people from a variety of different cultures. We go to a lot more different places now, last year we even went to Melbourne to present to Preshill School.
What would you say that you have gained from being a part of the SAR group? Experience, skills, maybe a career, friends.
What have been the challenges? When I first started, language was a big challenge. Also when there are arguments in the group it makes things hard. Time, because I’m also studying and it’s hard to manage everything.
You've been sharing the story of your journey to Australia for many years now – does it get any easier to tell? I’m less nervous now – more confident. But sometimes there are some things that make me sad and sometimes it’s difficult to answer people’s questions because the answers would be too horrible to remember. In the last 2 years I don’t need my notes any more!
Do you think that it’s been effective in educating Tasmanians about the experiences of refugees? Yes, because it helps them to build understanding. The comments and feedback show that it makes people here realise that they take things for granted, like education, which was difficult in the refugee camp.
What about reducing racism? In the first 2 years here I experienced a lot of racism but now I don’t notice it. Maybe because I ignore it, but I hope it’s also because people understand more about refugees.
This year you have been working as Trainee Project Officer on this project.
How has that been? Great, very good. I have learned new skills in how to plan, manage and deliver the project. Also I’ve got the opportunity to work in the TCGL office; it’s the beginning of my career path.
You’re also studying at the Polytechnic. Tell us about that? I’m doing a Certificate III in Community Services and I’m doing similar things to in the SAR group. We spent the whole of term 2 on refugee issues and we went to a school to deliver a workshop. I went to Kempton Grade 5 and 6 with someone from Amnesty and that was easy because I’d done it so many times before.
What are your personal goals for the future? Next year I’m doing Diploma I in Community Services, then Diploma II in 2013. After that I hope to go to Uni to do Social Work. Eventually I want to work as a Social Worker with refugees. I want to work with those who are traumatised when they arrive and help them settle in to a new country.
I’ve never been to my home country, Sudan, so I’d like to go back one day to visit – not to stay – I feel that Australia is home now.
Nene Manasseh 20 Born in Sudan. When I was 3 months war came to my town. My father was killed by the soldiers. My mum took three of her kids and me and escaped. My older brother and sister were taken by my uncle. I have only seen them in photos.
I grew up in a refugee camp. In the camp, people were not treated well and life was very hard. There was a lot of violence, criminals and people were killed for their money and possessions. We heard that the United Nations was helping the refugees go to Australia. We waited to see if we could be accepted.
Arriving in Australia
We waited for four years. Finally we were accepted. It was a great day for my family.
On the plane we were excited but nervous. I wanted to know what it would look like and what would happen.
It was a long trip and I didn’t know what to expect. What would my new life be like?
We arrived in Hobart, our friends were at the airport. We hadn’t seen them for six years. We had a party for two days. Then we had to settle.
Living In Between
Settling in was a bit strange. Everything was different. I miss my friends and I didn’t know how the system worked. I started school, I made friends and I knew my life here would be okay.
I am getting used to Australian culture. I am taking the good things from this culture and putting them with the good things from African culture. It is great. I know about 2 ways of living. I love it.
I love the freedom here. The education system here is very good. The teachers turn up. In Africa they didn’t get paid sometimes so they didn’t turn up. We have a new chance here. We have food and a house and I can go to school.
I can have a future here. I want to change the world. I want people to know about what’s happening in other countries in Africa. I can do this here. Everyone is friendly, my family is safe, I feel a part of Australia and I have a place to call HOME.