Key findings from VicHealth's Building Bridges program, a pilot designed to improve mental health and wellbeing by reducing race-based prejudice and strengthening bridging capital.
There is a long history in Victoria of bringing people from many different cultural backgrounds together through festivals, food and artistic and cultural pursuits.
These activities are supported by communities across Victoria, often with assistance through government funding programs. They play an important role in Victoria’s continuing success as a harmonious multicultural society.
VicHealth’s Building Bridges program sought to build on these activities by supporting more sustained and deeper forms of contact. The program promoted cultural diversity through positive contact and cooperation between people from a range of ethnic backgrounds, including those of Anglo-Australian heritage.
It was based on an approach used overseas, which has shown that an effective way of reducing discrimination is through activities that bring affected groups together with members of the wider community to work together on activities that are important to them all.
VicHealth funded 40 community-based projects throughout Victoria. Five promising projects were selected for further development and funded for an additional three years. An evaluation of the program was completed in 2013.