Australian author and journalist Benjamin Law shared his unique insights into relations in modern Australia at Relationships Australia Tasmania’s annual conference this week.
Mr Law’s experience as a child of Chinese migrants who divorced in his teenage years has given him insight into how service providers can best prepare for multicultural Australia.
“To really understand people that don’t come from exactly the same cultural background that we do ... when it comes to things like counselling and service providing or support, people really need to feel like they can trust you,” he said.
“That trust building is a long road, it’s an engagement process as well, engaging with the community so they know who you are, if possible to even have people within the service that speak the language.”
There are currently robust conversations nationally around issues of race and sexuality, but Mr Law doesn’t think children should be blindly sheltered from these debates.
“I think sometimes we try to soften discussions for kids, like if we protect them from even knowing that the national discussion is around a plebiscite that they won’t have to think about it. But then what happens when that kids becomes a teenager and is suddenly launched into those conversations?” he said.
“We need to equip kids at a young age with the skills to be able to navigate a world, and especially a country like Australia that is quite diverse,” he said.
Mr Law said these differences should not only be acknowledge but celebrated, and can be a force to bring communities together.
“It’s really important whether we’re parents or not, if we do have young people in our lives to make it known to them that difference is okay and difference is good actually,” he said.
“If you are not only comfortable, but also seeking out difference and interested in people’s differences when you’re growing up then you’re far more equipped to see how similar we all are on a fundamental level.”