Why Cultural Diversity Matters in Nature Connection
– Nethmi Nagahaulla, Multicultural Bay Ambassador

I am ethnically from Sri Lanka, both my parents and my older sister was born in Sri Lanka, but I was born in Australia and raised in New Zealand. However, that didn’t stop me from loving my roots, and the older I got, and the more times I visited Sri Lanka, the more I realised how in touch with nature the people are in my homeland.

That really drove me to studying Environmental Science, and wanting to reconnect with nature, and inspired me to create my final event for the program. Having said that I have never lived in Sri Lanka, I used to feel out of place, where I didn’t know if I was fully Sri Lankan, or fully Australian, or even fully Kiwi. But the EcoCentre accepted me and my ideas, so that uncertainty disappeared, and instead I embraced all the different cultures I had been exposed to in my life. And that helped with reconnecting with my nature. Because nature is not the same everywhere. But you can still accept their differences and love the different flora and fauna the same way.

It was such an honour to be selected for the Multicultural Bay Ambassador program at the Port Phillip EcoCentre. I had known about it through a friend, and when I heard that the purpose of the program was to include people of culturally diverse backgrounds, who were passionate about the environment, I immediately applied for it.

I loved the idea of people sharing their journey’s in Melbourne (Naarm) and bringing those journey’s back to how their cultures helped them reconnect to nature, and how Naarm can do that in the future. I strongly believe that education is the first step to change, so I was thrilled to learn so many new things while training at the EcoCentre with Reiko Yamada and my three fellow ambassadors. It was not only informative but so much fun, to put ourselves in nature and use our observations and our mentor’s knowledge to learn new things about the environment around us.

I wanted people to feel connected to nature; the same way I felt when I created my final EcoCentre event.

I taught my participants the history of St Kilda West Beach and the First Nations people that rightfully own the land and the science behind the landscape and the flora that made up the beach. Then I let them go off by themselves to immerse themselves in nature, to just exist, observe, and think.

While doing this, they collected natural objects that they felt drawn to and created mini nature landscapes, which helped them feel even more connected to their environment.

The Multicultural Bay Ambassadors Program taught me so much about the history of Naarm and Nerm (Port Phillip Bay) and the importance of cultural diversity in understanding how people can reconnect with their nature.
Nethmi Nagahaulla

Interested to learn more about the Multicultural Bay Ambassador program?
Click here for more information!

The EcoCentre acknowledges the Kulin Nations, including the Yalukit Willam clan of the Boon Wurrung language group, traditional custodians of the land on which we are located.

We pay respects to their Elders past and present, and extend that respect to other First Nations and Elder members of our multicultural community.