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Cultural bullying in the playground not our game

After a two-year phased implementation the report card on the My Australia, Our Australia board game is out: 77 percent of students surveyed said it helped them understand the link between cultural intolerance and violent extreme behaviour.

The game was part of the Different People, Different Voices project at Burwood Council that recruited youth leaders from schools in the western suburbs to present the game to their classmates, which targeted Years 7-9 and aimed to raise awareness of problems associated with cultural bullying.

The game, which has three versions for different geographical regions across western Sydney, is based on a ‘Snakes and Ladders’ format with a hint of ‘Trivial Pursuit’ and ‘Scruples’, whereby players gain ground by correctly answering questions from ‘pick-up cards’ on such topics as emerging communities, the impacts of racism and cultural isolation, and responses and discussions to real-life bullying scenarios.

The project was funded federally by a Building Community Resilience Grant and the game’s initial roll-out had a steering committee from a variety of agencies including NSW Police and Multicultural NSW, publisher of The Point Magazine.

“In one of the schools, boys would tease (Muslim) girls about their headdress. A week after they played the game, the girls stopped complaining to the school counsellor.”

– Georgina Vega, of Burwood Council

Deniz Emul, 18, a former student at Burwood Girls High School and now a first-year engineering student, was on the developing committee at the game’s inception. She said young leaders “all brought their own experiences to the project, not mediated by adults, and communicated with other students... It brings different cultures together and encourages students to engage and talk about racism. They might criticise the game, but the message still gets through.”

“It raised awareness that racism comes in different forms – then to recognise it and do something about it... It’s about students being proactive,” she said.

She was one of many youth leaders from a wide range of cultural, religious and racial backgrounds that were trained to present the game.

Georgina Vega, a youth worker at Burwood Council, said the game introduced the concept of violent extremism in a non-confronting way. “We were asked by schools not to mention terrorism and violent extreme behaviour, so we called it ‘cultural intolerance’... When we asked (students) what violent extreme behaviour was, nobody knew, but when we said ‘cultural bullying’ they knew what it was.”

“That behaviour can turn into violent extremism,” Vega said, adding that she believes the board game was successful in stopping extreme behaviour pathways with participating students.

“We saw positive outcomes,” she said. “In one of the schools, boys would tease (Muslim) girls about their headdress. A week after they played the game, the girls stopped complaining to the school counsellor.”

-Photo credit: feature image courtesy of The Burwood Scene

The Point

A game rolled out in Sydney high schools has led to a decrease in cultural bullying

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