Solar Citizens’ First Multilingual Community Workshop - Solar Citizens

Solar Citizens’ First Multilingual Community Workshop

On 5 June 2024, Solar Citizens hosted our first multilingual community workshop, and it was a great success. 

This workshop was part of Solar Citizens' Energy Equity Speakers Program, which is aimed at empowering voices from Sydney’s Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities around issues such as renewable energy, electric transport, and the impact of increasing energy bills on cost of living.

This campaign focuses on how the clean energy transition, especially at the household level, can be rolled out in a way that is inclusive of all cultures, languages and demographics within Australia.

We know that after English, Mandarin is the second most commonly spoken language at home, and China is the third most common country of birth for Australians born overseas. This represents a significant proportion of the population, one that must be brought along in the transition to renewables. 

The recent workshop on 5 June engaged with Sydney’s Chinese community, and was held in Burwood - where one-third of the population identifies as having Chinese ancestry. The session was facilitated by Justin Tan, who speaks Mandarin, Cantonese and English, and is originally from Singapore which is known for its Chinese cultural influence. 

During the workshop, participants were asked a series of questions, which were then discussed together as a group. Justin delivered each question in both English and Mandarin, and provided extra support in Mandarin and Cantonese when it was needed. Despite the participants speaking different languages, the discussion was insightful and rich with varying opinions and experiences.  

One workshop participant who had lived in Australia for a number of years was mostly concerned with issues stemming from climate change and the environment, and was already highly active in pursuing clean energy solutions for his home.

Another participant expressed that as an international student, she was more concerned with issues such finding work and cost of living pressures, and due to living in rented student accommodation she was less concerned  about clean energy. 

When asked about the importance of protecting the environment, one attendee said “The Earth is so big, and it would be a shame when her natural resources are depleted. There is also the issue of pollution in the environment. Solar energy reduces the pollution we cause to our Earth.”

Another said “There is a lot of pollution which is why everyone should be involved in renewable energy. It will have a big effect on future generations.”

We heard from those who attended that there was interest in electric vehicles (EVs), but concerns around the cost of purchasing a new model, and lack of charging stations was also raised as a potential issue.

Most of the participants were interested in getting rooftop solar, if they didn’t have it already. We heard from a participant who was living in an apartment and despite being on the strata committee, had been unsuccessful in their attempt to install solar panels for their building. 

We also heard that most of the participants felt stressed or concerned about rising energy bills, and that around half had a gas connection in their home and so were dealing with increased gas bills as well as electricity. 

At the end of the workshop, Solar Citizens provided further information, useful links and resources. A few of the attendees expressed an interest in meeting with their local MP to talk about how governments can best support the Chinese community in the clean energy transition, and we look forward to helping to facilitate this meeting in the coming weeks. 

By Charlie Rodrick, NSW Clean Energy Campaigner