Respect for other cultures

At La Trobe, we have about 104 different cultures on campus. So you will have a great opportunity to learn and appreciate other cultures and beliefs.

Cultural differences are inevitable but showing respect and understanding to people of all cultures is an important part of being an open-minded and global citizen.

Tips to increase cultural awareness

Begin awareness that your culture is no more valuable or correct than anyone else’s. Spend some time reflecting on your own beliefs and biases, which can help you appreciate other cultural differences.

Expand your knowledge and cultural awareness by:

  • reading about other cultures
  • watching movies
  • listening to the radio or podcasts.

For example, making eye contact with someone may represent respect in one culture and disrespect in another. Travelling to other countries is another fantastic cultural experience. Learn more about other religions, e.g. visit a mosque or a synagogue.

While you may tend to gravitate to people who share your culture. You have a great opportunity while at university to mix with people of different cultures and to learn about their customs and beliefs. Make an effort to have conversations with people from other cultures. Listen to their stories and experiences, without being critical or judgmental. Ask questions and take a genuine interest in what it means to be from another culture. This will not only help you to broaden your world view, but also help you to show respect for cultural differences when they arise.

It is important to realise that not everyone from a particular culture or religion is the same. There are many different customs within cultures and religion can be practiced differently between countries/regions. Every individual no matter their background, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other factor, thinks differently. Treat everyone you meet as an individual, don’t prejudge or make assumptions and show them the same respect you would show to anyone else.

While the tendency might be to be wary of the unknown or unfamiliar. There is so much to gain from celebrating our differences. The world would be so mundane if we were all the same and we have so much to gain from this great variety of different cultures. Think about all the fantastic food, movies, music, festival, cultural events that come from cultures different from our own.

Racism and bystander action

Unfortunately, racism still exists in Australia. It affects those who are been targeted and can cause long term harm to mental health. So, it is important that you act to counter everyday racism and know what to do when you hear a racist joke/comment or come across a racist incident. There are many actions you can take and it will depend on the circumstances on is what is safe to do. Here are some examples:

  • confront what has been said by asking an open question such as “why do you think that?” “why do think that’s funny?”.
  • appeal to better nature and express upset, e.g. “it makes me uncomfortable to hear that, what did you really mean?”
  • interrupt or distract the perpetrator
  • comfort the person(s) targeted and let them know you support them during or after the incident
  • report the incident.

Some examples of everyday racism and how to intervene:

Support and resources

Internal support

  • Safer Community: If you have any concerns about unacceptable behaviours including racism or any form of discrimination. You can seek advice and support from our Safer Community service.
  • Counselling Support: Provides counselling support on a range of issues that may be affecting a person’s wellbeing.

External support