08 May, 2013 Last updated: 16 Dec, 2014

VicHealth and Museum Victoria have launched a fascinating online arts project to challenge racism in the community

A Victorian-based interactive multimedia project aimed at reducing race-based discrimination has been launched by Museum Victoria and VicHealth.

One in 10 Victorians believe some races are superior to others, while one in three believe there are ethnic groups that do not "fit" in Australia. These findings have inspired the new website, Talking Difference, encouraging people to talk about racism and difference through video.

Launching this month at the Immigration Museum as part of a VicHealth's Arts About Us program, the website Talking Difference is the result of three years' work by Museum Victoria staff around race-based discrimination in Victorian communities.

"While videos of racist rants on public transport have peppered the news lately, the videos displayed on the Talking Difference website illuminate a more thoughtful discussion occurring within our community," said Tatiana Mauri, Community Engagement Manager for Museum Victoria.

"The project evolved from a broad body of research demonstrating that individuals are more willing to act if confronted with discrimination when they have previously been involved in discussion about the issues. Talking Difference aims to create and encourage a virtual dialogue around Australia.

"We want to take part in a national discussion of cultural diversity and belonging in Australia," said Mauri "We are working with communities to challenge race-based discrimination by encouraging people to talk about it."

 Visitors to the website are encouraged to join in this dialogue by answering video questions about diversity and belonging, such as "Are you proud of your skin colour?", and adding their own video in response.

Over the past three years, Museum Victoria has toured a mini-television studio to community centres and libraries, asking the public what issues around belonging and diversity they face. Fitted with a touch screen, HD camera, microphone and lights, the portable studio has seen the creation of more than a thousand videos, some of which are archived on the new website.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said VicHealth's research shows racism can be harmful for health and the arts are a powerful means to reduce race-based discrimination.

"This online media project is a great opportunity for everyone in Victoria to share ideas about cultural identity and tolerance," she said. 

"On top of that it’s just plain old fashioned fun, with a new tech twist. Visitors to the studio get a chance to create new works in film, sound, images and text – all of this in a warm and welcoming space.

“VicHealth is really excited to support Talking Difference to encourage dialogue about the benefits of cultural diversity and the harm caused by race-based discrimination. We hope everyone embraces the chance to have their say in this unique and creative way."