Multicultural Education

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

​​​Multicultural education gives students opportunities to build understanding and communication skills across cultures.

Multicultural education in depth

Multicultural education is not a discrete learning area, or simply the provision of Languages and English as an Additional Language. In a school context, and with the support of school policies and programs, multicultural education helps students develop:

  • proficiency in English
  • competency in a language or languages other than English
  • in depth knowledge and awareness of their own and other cultures
  • an understanding of the multicultural nature of Australia’s past and present history
  • an understanding of, and skills to interact in, intercultural settings
  • an appreciation of the importance of local, national and international interdependence in social, environmental, economic and political arenas and an understanding that mutual support in these areas is vital to local and global harmony.

Schools should make sure multicultural perspectives are incorporated into all aspects of school life by:

  • promoting diversity as a positive learning experience
  • incorporating multicultural perspectives across all learning domains
  • incorporating multicultural, anti-racism, and human rights perspectives in school policies and practices
  • enhancing teachers’ and students’ intercultural understanding and cross-cultural communication skills
  • making sure all school policies, including three year strategic and annual plans, codes of conduct, dress codes and discipline policies reflect the diverse nature of the school community.

Civics, citizenship and multicultural education 

The Victorian Government’s vision is for all Victorian learning and development settings to equip children and young people with the knowledge and skills to participate in and contribute to our diverse society as active and informed citizens - locally, nationally and internationally.

'Victorian. And proud of it.' is Victoria's new  Multicultural Policy Statement. This new policy sets out the Victorian Government's way forward with a range of policies, programs and services that encourage every one of us to participate in a stronger, safer and more harmonious community.

For more information see: Victorian. And proud of it.

School policy

The School Policy and Advisory Guide includes multicultural education policies and advice for government schools. For more information, see:School Policy and Advisory Guide
Multicultural Education

Victorian legislation

For information about interpreting the legislation guiding civil and human rights and understanding the principles of cultural diversity supporting school and community life in Victoria, see:

Multicultural Victoria Act 2011

The Multicultural Victoria Act 2011 recognises that one of the central tenets of multiculturalism is citizenship and that the expression of citizenship is not limited to formal Australian citizenship, but refers to the rights and responsibilities of all people in a multicultural society.

The Multicultural Victoria Act 2011 provides the framework which recognises and values the cultural, religious, racial and linguistic diversity of the people of Victoria.  The Act establishes a number of important principles and fosters a common understanding of cultural diversity. It also recognises the positive effects of cultural diversity on social, cultural and economic life in Victoria.

For more information, see: The Multicultural Victoria Act 2011

Racial and Religious Tolerance (RRT) Act 2001

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 seeks to promote conciliation and resolve tensions between people who may vilify others on the grounds of race or religion and those who may be vilified. 

Under the Act racial and religious vilification is any conduct which communicates serious racial and religious intolerance. Vilification includes communications that malign, abuse or seriously derogate other people or groups of people because of their racial background or religious beliefs and practices. It can include intimidation, damage to property, graffiti and expressions of hatred or contempt by messages over the internet. It is damaging not only to the individuals or groups vilified, but also to the cohesion and harmony of a culturally diverse society.

The Act makes exceptions for conduct or discussion that is engaged in ‘reasonably and in good faith’ in the course of a discussion of religious issues, in an artistic performance, for a genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or for any matter that is within the public interest.

The purpose of the Act is to promote racial and religious tolerance, and an understanding of the importance of cultural diversity. The Act aims to strike a balance by prohibiting racial and religious vilification while still ensuring that freedom of expression can be exercised.

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 applies to all Victorians.

For further information, see: Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001

The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) is a simple but important law that sets out our freedoms, rights and responsibilities.  The Charter’s purpose is to protect and promote human rights by recognising that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

The Charter helps to protect people from injustice and allows everyone to participate in and contribute to society.  It enshrines basic civil and political rights in law, and requires public authorities, including government schools, and their employees to act compatibly with human rights and to consider human rights when making decisions and delivering services.

The concept of human rights acknowledges that every human being is entitled to enjoy his or her human rights without distinction as to race, colour, sex, language religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The charter protects the civil and political human rights of all people in Victoria by requiring laws to be developed and interpreted consistently with human rights and by requiring Victorian Government and public authorities to act consistently with human rights.

The Charter is based on the following principles:

  • Human rights are essential in a democratic and inclusive society that respects the rule of law, human dignity, equality and freedom
  • Human rights belong to all people without discrimination, and the diversity of the people of Victoria enhances our community
  • Human rights come with responsibilities and must be exercised in a way that respects the human rights of others
  • Human rights have a special importance for the Aboriginal people of Victoria, as descendants of Australia’s first people, with their diverse spiritual, social, cultural and economic relationship with their traditional lands and waters.

Schools should aim to protect and promote the twenty rights outlined in the Charter.

For more information on the rights outlined in the Charter, see:  Rights under the Charter

Some examples of Charter rights that may be applicable in schools include:

Equality before the law

  • built environment & accessibility
  • equal opportunity policies
  • fair decision making processes

Protection of families and children

  • decisions that may affect family life
  • child protection issues

Freedom of expression

  • valuing expression of opinions

Cultural rights

  • valuing diversity
  • language programs

Privacy and reputation

  • student privacy
  • records management

For more detail about implications of the Charter for principals and schools, see Human Resources - Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities