City supports cultural diversity: mayor

Albert van Zetten

Albert van Zetten

LAUNCESTON City Council aldermen have rejected claims that the city fails to do enough to support cultural diversity.

The Examiner reported yesterday that Multicultural Council of Tasmania chief executive Anna Reynolds, who visited the North last week, believed organisations in Launceston were more reactive than proactive on issues such as racism and encouraging multiculturalism.

Ms Reynolds spoke to migrant groups in Launceston, who told her that racism was a problem and more needed to be done.

She said cultural diversity was not part of the city's core identity.

Mayor Albert van Zetten said he was disappointed with Ms Reynolds's comments and would meet her to discuss them.

He said Launceston was culturally diverse.

"We have a lot of citizenship ceremonies for people from all over, which is exciting and great," Alderman van Zetten said.

"We have to continue to learn to work together and respect each other."

The mayor said he would be more than happy to support the national "Racism. It Stops With Me" campaign.

Yesterday's article prompted Alderman Rob Soward to comment on The Examiner's website, stating he "totally disagreed" with Ms Reynolds' comments and found them offensive.

Following his online comments, he said he would ask the council to write a letter seeking clarification of Ms Reynolds' remarks, at a meeting today.

Alderman Soward said the council was a big supporter of initiatives such as Harmony Day at the University of Tasmania, and was "very proactive" in funding different cultural groups to host events and festivals in the city.

He said that there would always be a minority of people who would say horrible things and behave badly, no matter how much education or cultural awareness there was.

Alderman Soward said other than a "very, very small" number of incidents, he had not heard of racial attacks in Launceston.

"If you walk down a street in any city, be it Launceston, Melbourne or Sydney, and someone gets assaulted, it's someone getting assaulted," he said.

"They are not being assaulted because they are Chinese, African or American.

"Assaults are deplorable, against anyone."

Ms Reynolds replied on social media, saying her comments were not intended to offend.

"The job of the Multicultural Council is to consult and then be a voice for our members and for migrant and refugee communities," she wrote.

Ms Reynolds said she agreed that good things were being done in Launceston by many - UTAS, the Migrant Resource Centre and Coles at Mowbray - but there was view held by some "that more could be done to mainstream celebrations of cultural diversity".Email: ctang@examiner.com.au

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