Cultural diversity is not just about living beside each other, it’s about being able to understand each other.
As part of ACU’s Cultural Diversity Week from 2-8 September, a series of large evocative black-and-white photographs of faces and hands will remain indefinitely at the Melbourne Campus along the fence line in Brunswick Street and Victoria Parade, Fitzroy.
The photographs are part of a larger Melbourne-wide public art exhibition called Voiceless Journeys – initiated by Melbourne non-profit organisation Ondru. Voiceless Journeys aims to celebrate cultural diversity through the medium of art.
Meaning "one" in Tamil, Ondru was founded by Desh Balasubramaniam who, at age 12, left war-torn Sri Lanka with his family seeking humanitarian asylum. According to Desh, Ondru’s mission is to evoke, challenge and inspire through expressions of art and literature for positive social change.
A team of Ondru volunteers met with 101 people for more than a year in order to photograph and present the "silent" personal stories of people who have left their countries as a result of internal problems to reside in Australia.
"Voiceless Journeys is a project that gives voice to these people and aims to raise awareness about the journey, struggle, survival and achievements of people from diverse backgrounds," said Desh.
"People who flee their homes as a result of conflict are often portrayed as victims, and it is important through this project that they are expressed as survivors and also as people who contribute critically to our society."
"It’s not just about living beside the other person. It’s about being able to understand each other," he said.