Cultural Diversity


Victoria is home to one of the most culturally diverse societies in the world. The Department recognises that education and early childhood development are critical to the success of multicultural communities.

The Department promotes and celebrates the value of cultural, religious, racial and linguistic diversity, and embrace equal opportunity for all employees so that they may participate freely in all areas of the workplace. Racism, race-based discrimination or bullying, racial or religious vilification are not tolerated in any of the Department’s workplaces

In support of cultural diversity, the Department:

  • promotes the use of the Language Allowance to staff as well as the availability and use of Language Aides
  • raises awareness on cultural diversity through the annual promotion of cultural diversity week and other observance days and a range of actions in the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

Legislative and policy framework

The Victorian Government recognises the importance of multiculturalism and of fostering respect for different cultures. Victoria’s Multicultural Policy Statement 2017External Link outlines the Government’s commitments and strategies to support cultural diversity.

Managers, Principals, school councils, employees and students are required to act in accordance with the following principles of the Multicultural Victoria Act 2011 (Vic)External Link :

  • All Victorians are entitled to mutual respect and understanding regardless of their cultural, religious, racial and linguistic backgrounds.
  • All individuals and institutions in Victoria should promote and preserve diversity and cultural heritage within the context of shared laws, values, aspirations and responsibilities.
  • All individuals in Victoria (regardless of background) should work together to build a positive and progressive future and this co-operation is to be encouraged so as to enhance Victoria as a great place in which to live, work, invest and raise a family.
  • All individuals in Victoria are equally entitled to access opportunities and participate in and contribute to the social, cultural, economic and political life of this State.
  • All Victorians have a responsibility to abide by the State’s laws and respect the democratic processes under which those laws are made.

The Act requires government departments to develop cultural diversity plans to facilitate targeted responses by departments to our communities when delivering services and programs.

The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)External Link makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their race, colour, descent, national and ethnic origin or immigrant status in many areas of public life including employment.

DE Cultural Diversity Plan

The department’s 2023-27 Cultural Diversity PlanExternal Link outlines the proactive steps the department is taking to build cultures of respect and belonging and strengthen diversity and inclusion in the department’s workforce and all early education and school settings.

The plan shares the vision and priorities of the department’s 2023-2027 Strategic Plan and has been shaped around four focus areas - early childhood participation, student learning and wellbeing, intercultural capability in schools, and workforce diversity and professional learning – to bring together our work under current strategic reforms that lifts outcomes for children and young people from multicultural communities.

The plan is supported by an action registrar which will be updated annually to identify the specific actions that will deliver on these four focus areas and their objectives to:

  • support all children and young people in early education and school settings to build positive relationships and gain insight and understanding from cultural diversity

  • respond to changing patterns of need of multicultural and refugee students to help build a culturally safe service system and support students to participate fully in education

  • build inclusive recruitment, work practices and training to improve career pathways and support the diversification of our workforce and leadership.

The plan also responds to the requirement under the Multicultural Victoria Act 2011 for departments to develop cultural diversity plans to meet the needs of Victoria’s diverse communities.

What does discrimination look like?

Many workplaces reflect the multiculturalism that is an integral part of Victoria. Inclusive workplaces where all employees are able to bring their authentic selves to work and celebrate their culture result from strong policies and leadership. However, discrimination due to culture and racial characteristics still occurs. It can be overt or very subtle and can take many forms. Examples of cultural discrimination include:

  • insisting that employees speak English at all times, even during their breaks
  • not employing someone from a particular racial group because of conscious or unconscious biases
  • not employing or promoting someone because of assumptions they wouldn’t fit in with colleagues
  • unfair treatment in the course of work on the basis of race or culture, such as subjecting employees to negative comments about their race or culture

Fostering inclusion

The Department’s work plays a significant role in helping Victoria grow and develop as a multicultural community that values diversity and supports Victorians of all cultural backgrounds to prosper and flourish in our society. In the workplace, all employees have a responsibility to value others, and accept and celebrate their differences. There are many ways to demonstrate support for diversity and foster inclusion. These include:

Include diversity in images

Drawing unnecessary attention to people’s cultural backgrounds should be avoided, however it is important that images used in communications, marketing and promotion represent the Department’s workforce and the diversity of the Victorian community we serve.

Celebrate days of significance

Host an event with your team or participate in events celebrating days of significance such as Harmony Week (March), Cultural Diversity Week (March), World Refugee Day (20 June), International Day of Tolerance (16 November) and International Migrants Day (18 December)

Counter unconscious bias in recruitment

People from culturally diverse backgrounds face extra barriers seeking employment. Recruit SmarterExternal Link is a Victorian Government initiative to develop inclusive practices and address unconscious bias during recruitment. View the initiative’s ReportExternal Link , which includes best practice guidelines for inclusive recruitment.

Write in plain English

The Department’s Writing style guideExternal Link (staff login required) requires the use of plain English. By avoiding colloquialisms and buzzwords, you ensure that the widest range of people can engage with your writing.

Avoid stereotypes, even ‘positive’ ones

Cultural stereotyping is common, and in the workplace can lead to false ideas about what role people from certain cultural backgrounds are suited to or capable of doing.

Learn more about cultural inclusion

For more actions and learning resources to create a more inclusive culture in the workplace, see the Cultural diversity pageExternal Link (login required) of the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion site.

Further assistance

Chapter of the Inclusive Workplaces Guide on Cultural Diversity

Reviewed 20 March 2024

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