Shepparton students had a crash course in Shepparton’s multiculturalism in a bid to break down cultural barriers.
Future education and community support workers studying education support and community services at Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE’s Shepparton campus drank chai tea and learned about the Sikh faith as part of their course.
Shepparton is one of the most multicultural cities in regional Australia and teacher Tish Okely said it was important for her students to learn the diversity of people in the region.
‘‘This is about experiencing what cultures we can find in our community so that those barriers are down before they are out in the field,’’ Ms Okely said.
‘‘(This) was about getting an understanding about the various faiths people practice across our community.’’
Once her students graduate they will be working in the Shepparton and wider Victorian community as support workers in schools, aged care facilities or community centres.
She said the experiences they learn could help them in their future careers by giving them skills to relate to people across cultures.
Sikh practitioner Dhami Singh took the students through the Sikh gurdwara at Doyles Rd, which is the central place of worship of Shepparton’s thriving Sikh community.
The facility only dates back 17 years, but Mr Singh said many Sikhs have lived in the Goulburn Valley area for decades, back into the 1800s.
The students also visited an Albanian and a Turkish mosque, which are key places of worship for Shepparton’s islamic community.
The tour was organised with the help of Sam Atukorala from the Ethnic Council of Shepparton, a non-profit community group which supports Shepparton’s diverse residents.
‘‘We are trying to achieve two things, one is for the multicultural community to share their culture and give them the experiences of opening up to the wider community,’’ Mr Atukorala said.
‘‘With the wider community it is for them to get to know these new and emerging culture and religions.’’