One Australian City’s Unique New Initiative for Students
Each year, Australia’s post-secondary schools, combined with the country’s vibrant and diverse culture, draw in hundreds of thousands of students from overseas. For many, their time spent in Australia, living and studying, is the opportunity of a lifetime. However, with such a wide variety of new cultural and social experiences to take in, in what seems like such a short time—especially with studying to do—it can be difficult to know where to start, what to do and how to fit everything in.
In Victoria, a state in southern Australia popular amongst overseas students, the regional government has launched a scheme to ease this confusion. Introduced in May 2010, the Culture Card is a unique initiative presenting a new way to explore the state’s top cultural and social attractions, and meet others from around the world in the process. Offered free-of-charge to all international students at post-secondary schools in Victoria, the card provides discounted or free entry to exclusive cardholder events organised by the scheme’s 14 ‘cultural partners’, key venues including zoos, museums and sports stadiums chosen for their importance in shaping Victorian life. Students simply present their card upon booking.
Victoria’s Skills and Workforce Participation Minister Bronwyn Pike explains the card as something that ‘will help students get a better understanding of Victoria’s culture, our obsession with sport and food and our interests in zoos, parks and gardens.’
And reflecting Victoria’s love affair with food, one of the first events for cardholders was a Foodies Tour of the Queen Victoria Market. Known worldwide for its fresh produce and buzzing atmosphere, the market is firmly at the centre of culinary activity in the state’s capital, Melbourne. Whilst walking the never-ending aisles of fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood, students gained a real insight into the deep cultural significance attached to Victorian cooking. Lessons were given on how to select from the wide range of ingredients and prepare traditional Australian meals, helping participants become part of Melbourne’s vast community of foodies.
Upcoming events have been planned to induct students into all aspects of the state’s culture. This winter alone, cardholders will be offered guided walks of Melbourne’s Golden Mile heritage trail, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground and free entry to the Immigration Museum, exploring Victoria’s multicultural origins.
So, how can the Culture Card help busy students?
Images: Jonathan Lin (top), Sukianto Hamzah (bottom)