Morpeth Playgroup engaging in diversity project to embrace Maitland's multiculturalism

NEW PROJECT: Morpeth Playgroup participants Hannah Hu, Alana and Hendrick Rolvink, Florence and Anna Humphries, Theodore Rolvink. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

NEW PROJECT: Morpeth Playgroup participants Hannah Hu, Alana and Hendrick Rolvink, Florence and Anna Humphries, Theodore Rolvink. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Morpeth Playgroup is making a conscious stance to embrace the diversity and multiculturalism in the Maitland community through a new social development project.

The project aims to increase the number of playgroup participants from various cultural backgrounds and allow the children to gain a better cross-cultural understanding during their formative years.

A 2016 Playgroup Australia report showed an under-representation of Indigenous children and children from non-English speaking backgrounds in playgroups.

‘It takes a village to raise a child: the influence and impact of playgroups across Australia’ found that 36 per cent of children had attended playgroup before school.

But just 21.7 per cent of Indigenous children and 21 per cent of children from a language background other than English had gone to playgroup.

There were 49 different countries and cultures represented in Maitland according to the Maitland council’s draft cultural plan 2016-2019, but Morpeth Playgroup past-president Kellie Tranter said their playgroup did not reflect that.

She referenced the top HSC school for the past 21 years James Ruse Agricultural High School, where 95.2 per cent of students in 2010 listed a language background other than English, and a report by McKinsey & Co which revealed companies with diverse work forces were 35 per cent more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians, as evidence of multiculturalism benefits.

But more than that, Ms Tranter said the idea was to normalise multiculturalism, particularly in light of today’s society.

“We’re really at a time when intolerance and prejudice are gaining the upper hand," she said. “Hatred has to be taught.

“We want multiculturalism to be normal, so the children don’t see different, they just see friends.”

The not-for-profit group has sought grant funding for marketing and community awareness, to buy culturally-sensitive toys and aids and help pay for a multicultural excursion.

The playgroup has also been asked to host National Playgroup Week in March due to their innovative project.

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