Connected Cultural Experiences

Encouraging cultural inclusion and diversity in the South West

Bunbury Multicultural Group Incorporated is a volunteer-run organisation established in 1991 to promote multiculturalism, understanding and friendship between all ethnic groups throughout the Bunbury and South West region of Western Australia.

Through this grant, Lotterywest supported the 2021 Live Lighter South West Multicultural Festival, an annual event that’s also supported by Healthway promoting the Live Lighter message to the local community.

Grant Goal

Towards the South West Multicultural Festival, which will enable people to reconnect, establish new relationships and foster greater cultural understanding.


Bunbury Multicultural Group Incorporated

Year Funded


Total project cost




Funder Contribution



South West


General Community

  • In 2021, around 5,000 people attended, including 339 performers and 20 volunteers including the organising committee.
  • Performers were provided with valuable exposure to a broad audience. Following this, the Bunbury Multicultural Group reported an approximately 10% percent increase in local cultural performances in the region.
What worked?
  • Changing the format of the Flag Parade and taking it to the streets engaged with a broader audiences and allowed more community members to be involved.
  • An increased Festival footprint allowed the addition of a community stage, providing local groups with performance opportunities and built a ‘festival’ atmosphere.
200221Jlgbymf233 Sml


There are many ways in which a society may encourage cultural inclusion and diversity. Festivals and cultural events are one example, which research suggests can maintain social and cultural traditions, build social connection and networks, reinforce self-worth, foster diversity and provide a sense of belonging [1].

WA has a diverse population, with 38% of residents born overseas according to the 2021 Census, which is above the national average of 33.1% [2]. The 2016 Census data ranked Bunbury third in regional local government areas (LGAs) in WA for migrants from countries where English is not the main language spoken, and tenth among regional LGAs as a percentage of total population, with 9.1% of residents born in a country were English was not the primary language [3].

Australian migration policy has increasingly sought to attract migrants to regional areas around Australia [4]. With more people arriving as refugees settling in rural areas [5], there is an opportunity to ensure Bunbury is a culturally inclusive community for those settling in the region.



The Bunbury Multicultural Group is a grassroots organisation that brings together people from diverse cultural backgrounds to organise and run inclusive multicultural projects that generate a sense of belonging. The organisation’s most significant event of the year is the Live Lighter South West Multicultural Festival which began in 2007.


“When you come from another country, you want to feel that you are part of the country you adopted.”

Daravan Meek, Former committee member


In 2021, the festival included:

  • A Flag Parade.
  • Market and food stalls.
  • An interactive zone that included traditional cultural attire being both displayed and available for the public to try on.
  • Stages to give a forum for different cultural groups to present their traditions to the broader community.

There were also cultural workshops and activities such as:

  1. Cultural face painting.
  2. A Chinese tea ceremony demonstration.
  3. Sari, Kimono and traditional Chinese dress demonstrations.
  4. A Filipino dance workshop.
  5. A Taiko Do drumming workshop.
  6. A Bhangra Rulez dance workshop.
  7. A Bangladesh cuisine demonstration.

Through its partnership with Healthway, the Live Lighter South West Multicultural Festival promotes a healthy lifestyle. This has included working with the Western Australia School Canteen Association (WASCA) to increase healthy food options and avoid displaying sugary drinks. As part of this initiative, vendors are incentivised to improve healthy options through a competition that waived the vendor fee for the two healthiest menu offerings at the event.


200221Jlgmulti058 Sml
200221Jlgbymf206 Sml
200221Jlgbymf311 Sml

Impacts and outcomes

Through the Lotterywest grant, the Bunbury Multicultural Group was able to continue to present a free and accessible event for the community. Surveys conducted by the festival organisers highlighted there is an even split of attendees between people born in Australia (52%) and those born overseas (48%). The top reasons people attend the festival include for entertainment, a family outing and food. While many people have previously attended, the festival continues to grow, with 33% of those surveyed attending for the first time.


“The recognition and respect of diversity is so important for a community. We had a wonderful evening. Thank you”

Festival survey respondent

The festival reported the following outcomes in 2021:

  • Around 5,000 people attended, including 339 performers and 20 volunteers including the organising committee.
  • Members of 40 different cultural groups participated in the opening Flag Parade and 20 food stalls provided attendees with a range of traditional dishes from around the globe.
  • There was a 10% increase in volunteer involvement.
  • Attempts to grow the festival’s online presence led to a 21% increase in social media engagement, with posts reaching an audience of 115,610.
  • Performers were provided with valuable exposure to a broad audience. Following this, the Bunbury Multicultural Group reported an approximately 10% percent increase in local cultural performances in the region.

In the future, Bunbury Multicultural Group aims to continue growing the festival by connecting with more multicultural groups in the region and inviting them to participate. New activities might include providing additional opportunities for smaller artists and groups to perform, creating food experiences with members of the local community and boosting the presence of visual artists at the festival. The group is working towards the festival achieving recognition as a significant festival in the State, where it is seen as celebrating and showcasing the community's diversity while offering a space where everyone can feel they belong.

“Great to see the rich cultures in the South West gathered together. A fun and happy environment. …Wonderful effort and brilliant for Bunbury.”

Festival survey respondent

What worked

Changing the Flag Parade connected more people
In 2021, the festival implemented a different look for the Flag Parade, with representatives taking to the streets and engaging with a broader audience. In previous years the flag parade meant only one or two representatives from each country would enter the stage and say hello in their native tongue. By taking to the streets, some countries are represented by up to 20 or 30 people meaning communities and families can be involved and celebrate together. As a result, the parade has increased from approximately 40 participants to 300 and continues to grow.

Multiple spaces allowed for more diverse experiences and a bigger festival feel
The 2021 festival added new spaces meaning stalls and activities were spread out over a greater area, which was partly in response to COVID-19 measures. One part of the initiative was a community stage that showcased local cultural dance groups, which provided them with a new opportunity to perform at the festival. The increased street theatre also ensured that there were more things to see across the space, which led to the festival feeling bigger. This reinforced the intent that this is a true festival and not just an event or concert.



  1. Hassanli, N., Walters, T., & Williamson, J. (2021). ‘You feel you’re not alone’: How multicultural festivals foster social sustainability through multiple psychological sense of community. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 29(11–12), 1792–1809.

  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2022) Bunbury 2021 Census All persons. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

  3. Office of Multicultural Affairs. (2021, June 24). WA diversity and statistics. Office of Multicultural Affairs, Department of Local Goverment, Sport and Cultural Industries. 
  4. Forbes-Mewett, H., Hegarty, K., & Wickes, R. (2021). Regional migration and the local multicultural imaginary: The uneasy governance of cultural difference in regional Australia. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1–18.

  5. Butler, R. (2019). Local and refugee youth in rural Australia: Negotiating intercultural relationships and belonging in rural places. In Youth, place and theories of belonging (pp. 147–159). Routledge.



Additional links and resources

Want to learn more about this case study? Find related resources in this section.

  • South West Multicultural Festival Website

Get news and updates from the Community Impact Hub delivered to your inbox


Acknowledgement of Country

The Western Australian Community Impact Hub acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are based, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation and extends that respect to all the Traditional Owners and Elders of this country. We recognise the significant importance of their cultural heritage, values and beliefs and how these contribute to the positive health and wellbeing of the whole community.