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What’s your family’s connection to culture?

Have a think about the word ‘culture’ and what it means to you. Fifteen seconds is about all you need. It’s OK, we’ll wait for you…

Did you think about a dusty museum with one of those stuffed ‘world’s oldest’ tortoises? Art galleries with pictures your three-year-old could have finger-painted? Or did your mind go straight to the dodgy yoghurt that’s been sitting in the fridge door about five weeks longer than it should have?

You’re right with every one of those answers. But we’d like to talk about YOUR culture. The one that defines who you are and your place in the world. The culture that speaks to where you’ve come from. The history that defines who your family and kin are, and connects you to places, languages and customs.  

Our culture and connections give us our values, rules and traditions. In Queensland, we are lucky to have a beautiful patchwork quilt of different cultures that connect our people and allow us to celebrate our differences.

According to the 2016 Census, more than 1 in 5 Queenslanders are born overseas and more than one in 10 Queenslanders speak a language other than English at home (representing a total of one million people). Across the state, we speak more than 180 overseas languages, hold more than 110 religious beliefs and come from more than 220 countries and territories. In fact, close to 40 different cultures were on display at the Harmony Day celebrations for Woodridge State Primary School in Logan City, south of Brisbane. How many cultures are represented at your kids’ school?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples define themselves by their culture, not the colour of their skin. Their children’s identity and language come from family and their relationship with country. For Filipino people living in Australia – some call themselves Filoz, which is a combination of Filipino and Aussie – the family is the centre of social structures and it is common for members of the same family to work for the same company. Those who’ve moved here from the UK may continue their tradition of Morris dancing (but in 2019, it’s unlikely that one will stick!)

We know that family culture is important in lots of ways that aren’t just about the vindaloo recipe handed down from father to daughter or the Ta moko tattoo that links your best friend to Maori or South Pacific island origins. When parenting gets tough, it’s our beliefs, rules and customs that we fall back on to help us solve problems, set family goals and connect to each other. For your family, it could be the weekly movie and take-away night (OK, so it’s more than one take-away on these nights when you are REALLY tired!), the battered Christmas cake tin inherited from Great Aunt Maria, or the happy dance you all do when the kids’ favourite footy team beats that team you all can’t stand.

Our communities thrive when we have great connections with all peoples and their cultures. It’s not just about the foods you’ve grown to love at your local weekend markets. So ‘sesig in bao buns’ is great – google it – but how else can you explore and learn about other cultures? Perhaps you could:

  • Watch television shows that feature different cultures (No, Big Bang Theory doesn’t count!)
  • Invite families from other cultures to your home. It’s very likely your kids will have friends whose families have moved here from other lands, so you could start at the school gate.
  • Learn a few words in their languages to greet your new friends.
  • Find out more about their different traditions and customs and share yours.
  • Consider hosting students or business people on cultural exchanges.
  • Make sure you keep your own cultures and traditions going in your house – it’s those little things that form the rich fabric of family life!

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