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Get to know your community
Engage parents and carers
By providing materials in appropriate languages and offering professional interpreting services, schools and other organisations can help to break down communication barriers for families and encourage them to be involved with the school. Contacting parents and carers prior to, or early on during the new school year may also help to involve them. Having an “open door” policy at designated times may make parents and carers more inclined to approach teachers about issues or questions they may have regarding their child. Ensuring that contact is made with carers may be especially important for children whose parents may have died or been lost in traumatic circumstances.
Teachers can encourage a positive school environment for children of CALD backgrounds by inviting diversity into the classroom. Provide a range of opportunities for children and their parents and carers, to share their cultural stories in an atmosphere of respect and acknowledgement. Mutual respect across cultures involves being open to learning different ideas and approaches and appreciating the enrichment this provides. Be mindful of differences in parenting styles between cultures and try to be sensitive to the issues faced by parents from newly emerging populations (eg refugee communities). In this way, clashes between the school and cultural values imposed by parents and carers may be minimised.
Being safe and feeling safe can take time to achieve. Connecting with others who have been through a similar experience provides opportunities to talk about difﬁculties and can help to reduce isolation. Culture-speciﬁc community organisations may be especially well-placed to provide sensitive support during resettlement. Specialist services are also available in different states to provide assistance to families from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Counter racism and discrimination
Racism can be countered by identifying and challenging the kinds of practices that disadvantage or discriminate against those of different racial or cultural backgrounds, and promoting inclusive practices in their place. It is very important for schools to encourage and support children to take positive action against discrimination and bullying by speaking up and reporting incidents. Complaints about racism and harassment should be taken seriously and addressed promptly when they occur.
For further information on dealing with bullying at school see www.bullyingnoway.com.au.