Interview with Sue Masters, Communications and Marketing Director Haven Home Safe.

For us diversity is the norm! As one of Bendigo’s leading not-for-profit organisations Haven Home Safe prides itself on diversity; diversity of staff and clients who come from many different cultural backgrounds. Primarily they come from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

We will have a role in both Harmony Day and Family Fun Day and we’ll talk about the services we provide for people from all cultural backgrounds. We do have a number of refugees that we have housed. I think it’s important to show that we are supportive and encourage people from all cultural backgrounds in terms of meeting their needs in the community and supporting them in the workplace. We have offices right across the state and our Preston based office even has a prayer room as we identified a need for that and we respond to what is an incredibly diverse client base.

You not only have to talk the talk but you have to walk the walk. We are a champion of diversity. We celebrate Harmony Day every year as an organisation by gathering together and having a shared lunch with our staff. Whether from a diverse cultural background or not we prepare a multicultural lunch and we love that. So just from our office’s point of view we embrace diversity and it’s very important to us. We’ve always supported and encouraged our staff to take part and participate in these cultural events.

We have been doing this a long time, since 1978. If I go back to the issue of the mosque, Haven Home Safe led from the front right from the beginning with the ‘This Is Bendigo’ campaign. Because we felt there wasn’t a voice out there for diversity or for those who have been marginalized by this debate. We are acutely aware of the impact marginalization has on individuals and that cuts right across cultural boundaries. That’s why we support the Bendigo Festival of Cultures because we are a champion of diversity.

We see what marginalization does to people and their mental health and we can’t marginalize people in our community just because of their religious or cultural beliefs. But that’s an even greater motivation to get involved and be visible in our support for multiculturalism because it is a great thing. We did a photographic project of all of our different clientele which we display throughout the building just as a reminder to everyone that this is diversity, this is who we work for and we celebrate that.