Friday, September 30, 2005

Dancing in the Fringes

Give hope a chance!

The survival needs of the new arrivals for shelter, food, health services, education, work and other basic necessities of life are being met by individual efforts and by various governmental agencies. But there is something missing in the Land of OZ.

Dr. Gary Pennington, a visiting lecturer at the University of South Australia and the facilitator of the New Arrivals Outreach Project, knows a thing or two about the new migrant communities. He suggests that the missing ingredients are in the areas of play, sports and dance, as well as effective coordination of such services.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that community facilities and programs which most Australians take for granted in the mainstream society cannot be accessed by youths and families in the new and emerging communities.

Indeed, as Dr. Pennington suggests, play can form an important link between people of different cultures.

We must, therefore, find a more creative way of using play, music, dance, and sport to give new migrants a chance and build bridges across the various subcultures.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Chants of the Lost Boy

Upon becoming the youngest victim
Of Africa’s longest war,
Oku began his long journey of survival.

He came to the ancient Land of Oz,
Like a stranger in the night
Searching for a refuge.

The gentle wind swept away his fears
And his new love softened the pain of transition;
Heralding an exciting new beginning.

From the nearby hills
A red kangaroo watched with interest;
Scrutinizing his every move like a hawk!

The kindly full moon adorned the sky
Lighting his winding path
To the land of his dreams.

Finally, the “Lost Boy” made good;
Embracing at last the safety of isolation
A dose of inner peace liberates his consciousness.

Yet, he struggled to establish his bearings;
Waiting anxiously for the morning light
Still to come – if not the challenges ahead.

But like Lazarus of old,
He would never say die despite the pain
And the trauma of transition.

Copyright © Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

Diversity Works!

The “Diversity Works” program is part of the Australian government’s multicultural policy, implemented by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

The program encourages and supports Australian organizations interested in using elements of cultural diversity in the workforce to optimize performance, promote innovation and connect with the new and emerging communities.

Furthermore, the Diversity Works program encourages the removal of impediments (such as prejudice and discrimination) to the effective participation of culturally and linguistically diverse employees in the workforce.

The Department produces resources such as training materials, and publishes case studies of businesses that are succeeding in using their employee’s language skills and knowledge of other cultures to:

• Trade with other countries and move into new markets

• Create new products lines or improve existing ones to meet the needs of overseas markets

• Market products to different migrant communities in Australia

Under the “Diversity Works!” program, strong partnerships have been established with a number of leading Australian corporations to promote the use of foreign language skills, business networks and market knowledge to Australia’s advantage.

This goes to show the extent to which cultural diversity can be used as a potent instrument of profit maximization.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Thinking about Cultural Diversity

Negotiating the complexity of Australia’s cultural diversity is a challenging task. But managing diversity is a task that must be done.

Cultural diversity is the variety of human cultures, social structures, belief systems, and strategies for adapting to situations in different parts of the world.

Over 43 per cent of Australians were born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas, according to the 2001 Census.

“Diversity is present in every aspect of our lives in Australia”, says John Cobb, the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.

“Our workforce and our consumer market reflect this diversity...Our diversity creates a wealth of opportunities for business in local markets”.

Since 1999, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs has commissioned over 90 research papers, toolkits, training resources, and case studies covering a wide range of cultural diversity topics and issues.

The findings of the research projects are shockingly familiar. They highlight a general lack of understanding of Australia’s cultural and linguistic assets by top management.

The research concludes that organisations need to take a diversity management approach which recognizes the implications of cultural diversity for Australia’s future prosperity.

On the whole, effective management of cultural diversity is seen as a good thing.

Stakeholder consultations have highlighted the need for the development of “Diversity Works!” program to encourage the teaching of cultural diversity in schools in order to maximize its benefits for all Australians.

Meanwhile, the resources for teaching and learning about diversity are available free of charge on the Diversity Australia website:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Positive Climate for the Sudanese

There is a surge in population, as the Sudanese migrants and refugees call Australia home!

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that almost one in four people living in Australia were born overseas – the highest proportion in more than 100 years.

Furthermore, the ABS data also indicate quite clearly that the Sudanese are the fastest-growing population among those born overseas; increasing by an average of 26 per cent each year since 1996.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Partnership for Education

The Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS) in South Australia wants to consult with the African community leaders, on educating the new arrivals.

The aim is to identify processes through which African community leaders, parents, and caregivers can have a greater participation and engagement in the system to ensure positive educational outcomes for African learners.

Emphasis is placed on partnership in education. This is a genuine attempt to map out effective strategies for community involvement in the educational process.

Indeed, DECS is actively supporting refugees and humanitarian migrants from African countries in its schools.

The Department is currently promoting a number of education and training initiatives in the new and emerging African communities in South Australia.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Life after Katrina

The light shines again in the land of dreams,
As General Katrina retreats to her lair for a thousand years
Innocents triumph over adversity!

Yet, the dead cloud hangs over the city
As the land gives up its secrets;
Showing Katrina’s deadly hand.

But there is a flicker of hope in the horizon,
As Providence sooths the pain of the brave
And the Big Easy rises from the grave.

Nevertheless, thoughts of Katrina’s sinful ways abound,
Tales of the hungry wind that devours the city
captivates the mind
Yet, the struggle for survival continues in earnest.

Thus, as the flood recedes, life begins anew;
The dark cloud rolls away with ease;
(revealing the deep blue sky)
And the new era opens with a kaleidoscope of colors.

The bright sunshine warms the heart of the heroic survivors!
And the ageless spirit soars with delight
As the city birds make their presence felt.

Songs of joy and laughter fill the air once again!
A brand new world emerges from the ashes of the old,
Like a beautiful bride from the heavens beyond.

Copyright © Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo 2005

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Ethiopian New Year Celebrations

The New Year is one of the biggest events in the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar.

The members of the new and emerging Ethiopian community in South Australia will celebrate this 3,000-year-old tradition with a gala dinner, music and dance and fashion parade.

The traditional yellow flower decorations will be used to mark the event, on 24th September.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Humanitarian Program

Australia’s population reached 20.1 million at the end of June 2004.

Current projections suggest that the country’s population may be around 26 to 27 million by the middle of this century, according to a special report by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA).

More than 75% of Australia’s population lives in three states, notably: New South Wales (33.3%), Victoria (24.7%), and Queensland (19.3%)

In particular, South Australia has become home to more than 1,500 humanitarian entrants in the past year. A further 1,500 are expected to arrive during 2005-06.

About two thirds of humanitarian entrants to South Australia are refugees. Refugees are defined by the Commonwealth Government as “People who are subject to persecution in their home country, have a strong need for resettlement and have been referred for resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)”.

The Refugees come from many countries; including the Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Burundi, Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Uganda, Rwanda, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan.

About 50% of the refugees are children.

Ethnic groups now resident in South Australia include various sub-cultural nationalities and language groups from the Sudan, such as Nuer, Zande, Dinka Bor, Dinka Gorgriel, Dinka Aweil, Acholi, Bari, Raja, Kuku, Northern Sudanese, Nuba, Made; and Middle Eastern groups such as Kurdish, Iraqi and Turkman.

Most humanitarian migrants receive government support for up to six months after arrival in Australia and are then assisted by various community organizations.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Feeding the Poor and the Homeless

The fear of litigation is alive and kicking - a phenomenon that is driving away potential food donors in Australia. This goes to explain why the restaurants, supermarkets and food manufacturers wishing to donate unwanted, edible food to charities are afraid to do so.

The Christian welfare agencies in South Australia and the SA Law Society have asked the Government to amend the Civil Liability Act to provide legal protection to food donors, according to The Southern Cross, a Catholic monthly newspaper.

Meanwhile, because of the concerns over legal liability, potential food donors deliberately throw away excess good quality food that can be used to feed the poor and the homeless.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Refugee Policy under the Microscope

Most Australians support the Howard government’s policy towards refugees and asylum seekers, according to The Sunday Mail newspaper survey of 14,000 people.

An overwhelming number of people, 76 per cent of respondents, believed Australia treated illegal immigrants either fairly or too leniently.

However, forty-five per cent of those interviewed said they did not support mandatory detention of children.

On the contrary, thirty-eight per cent said they support keeping children in detention.

In fact, according to the survey, two-thirds of those interviewed agreed with the government’s mandatory detention policy.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina's Wake!

With lightening speed from the heavens
She sacked the city of New Orleans
A city of love, laughter and music
Killing thousands;
Leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

Oh Katrina
Why did you do it?
And why are you so cruel
And so merciless?

Copyright © Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo 2005

Katrina's Eyes

They run for their lives
As Katrina weaves her deadly web
Around New Orleans,
Killing thousands!

Innocents tremble
And tens of thousands are homeless
In Katrina’s wake.

Then suddenly she falls into slumber
Leaving behind a city in ruins,
The trail of anarchy engulfs the land!

Helplessness and ultra-violence
In the land of the free.

Copyright © Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo 2005

Friday, September 02, 2005

African Music and Food Celebration

A celebration of African music and food has been organized by Panhom, a charitable organization based in Adelaide city in South Australia. Panhom’s main objective is to raise money for schools and healthcare facilities in war-ravaged Southern Sudan.

Come and join others ( on Saturday, 3rd September 2005) for an afternoon of fun, dance and extremely delicious food.

The event will be held at St. Luke’s Mission Hall, 35 Whitmore Square, Adelaide.

Please contact Mel on 0422 816840 for more information.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Support for Refugees

The West Torrens Council in South Australia is investigating the best possible way of supporting the growing number of African refugees moving into its area.

One real option is a scholarship program for those refugees preparing for education and training. Other programs are in the pipeline.