Diversity Fest 2023: What you need to know about diversity at Western Sydney University.

Caption: Holi Festival (Pixabay)

Have you ever wanted to know more about our diverse Western Sydney University (WSU) community? This September, Diversity Fest takes stage, uniting students to celebrate and embrace the rich diversity of students at Western Sydney University.

This highly anticipated festival is organised by the Inclusive Communities team this year, to celebrate the many facets of diversity, including culture, sex, gender, physical and mental abilities, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political beliefs, religious practices, and socioeconomic status.

The festivalwill take place across all WSU campuses, including a mix of live performances, artwork, panel discussions, stalls, food trucks and more.

Marissa Waddington shares the theme for Diversity Fest this year, and what this means for our WSU community.

“Spring Diversity Fest will be a celebration of inclusion and diversity. This of course includes, but is not limited to, cultural diversity,” Marissa tells W’SUP.

“We are aiming to embrace the diversity of our Western community and foster conversations about how we can be inclusive to all. We would like to acknowledge cultural diversity as well as gender diversity, first nations knowledge, LGBTIQ+ inclusion and mental health awareness,” she adds.

Western Sydney: A diverse hub of people:

In the heart of Western Sydney lies a diverse hub of individuals, making it one of Australia’s most culturally diverse areas. The 2021 census reveals that four regions in Western Sydney, including Auburn, Fairfield, Parramatta and Canterbury, all have at least half of their resident population born overseas. Additionally, 24.3% of the Western Sydney population practise a non-Christian religion, making religious diversity significant in the Western Sydney LGA.

According to WSU’s Sexuality and Gender Diversity strategy (2017-2020) at least 4500 students and 350 staff are likely to identify as part of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Data also shows that 5.8% of the Western Sydney LGA population report a need for help in their day-to-day lives due to living with a disability.

So, all in all, we know that Western Sydney has a high level of diversity, reflected in the diverse community of students and staff at WSU. But where does that lead us in terms of the reasoning behind the festival?

Caption: Pride Flag (Pixabay)

The driving force behind Diversity Fest:

Bayan Sohailee, the Student Representative Council’s Vice President of Activities at WSU, shares the purpose behind Diversity Fest.

“[It is] a fantastic opportunity to showcase the diversity that exists in the Western community and to also create a way to bring us all together. Unity is the way we thrive and succeed here in the West,” Bayan tells W’SUP.

“It is a great time to learn about others and how they see the world. If we could walk in the shoes of others and see life through their lens, we would come to understand that we are one,” Bayan adds.

He shares that a huge focus will be on mental health and First Nations knowledge in this year’s efforts.

Earlier this year, the Student Representative Council (SRC) showcased their solidarity and support for Diversity Fest in a statement to showcase their dedication to providing a voice for multiculturalism and diversity on campus. In March, they co-hosted a tremendously successful Harmony Day event, with a special emphasis on Persian New Year and Holi.

“The festival featured a wide range of cultural events and performances, including music, dancing, and traditional cuisine,” says the SRC in the statement.

This will be reflected in the contributions of WSU’s Equity Collectives, including the Queer, Women, Ethno-Cultural, Disability, Indigenous and International and Environment collective.

Tiffany Sharpe, the former First Nations Representative of the SRC, proposed a resolution for the SRC to donate $10,000 to the university’s Diversity Fest efforts, with the Harmony Day event being the first use of these allocated funds. 

The remaining funds will help the Diversity Fest Committee and Inclusive Communities team stage larger events that reach more students, demonstrating the Western SRC’s commitment to WSU’s varied student body.

Stay tuned and keep an eye out for this semester’s latest Diversity Fest in September – you don’t want to miss it! For more info on Diversity Fest, click here.

Samanda Tharaki Mularachchi

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