HUNTER suburbs will see their streets enlivened with colourful murals celebrating diversity, thanks to a new program that connects artists with young people and encourages tolerance and social harmony.
Hunter Multicultural Communities (HMC) and public art agency The Wall Station have received funding from the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia to launch the program, called Diversity Walls.
The Wall Station director and HMC board member Jacinta Fintan said the program involved professional mural artists hosting art workshops for young people, where they complete art activities and discuss mural painting skills as well as concepts relating to diversity, such as multiculturalism, racism and discrimination.
The artist will design a mural based on ideas raised in the workshops and the young people will help paint it.
"Public art is really powerful," Ms Fintan said.
"It creates a sense of place and when you see strong words like diversity people begin to have conversations about it and wonder what it means... it also gives you permission to think 'Maybe this is a safe place'.
"It makes you think 'It's not okay to say something that is discriminatory in this environment'."
Sydney-based artist Christina Huynh and Callaghan College Waratah students spent Wednesday working on a mural on the Hunter Multicultural Communities building, the first of at least five planned for the region.
These will include nods to Indigenous Australians and the Greta Migrant Camp.
Multicultural NSW chief executive Joseph La Posta said the murals would "reinforce the value of what diversity means to this community".