Calendar for cultural diversity

The calendar for cultural diversity promotes intercultural understanding, cultural and linguistic diversity, community harmony and social inclusion across NSW public schools and their communities. The 2023 Calendar for cultural diversity PDF is available on this webpage and may be downloaded and printed by schools and education offices.

Download the Calendar for Cultural Diversity (PDF 75.4MB).

Download the School Planner for Cultural Diversity (PDF 13.9KB)

The calendar for cultural diversity provides annual dates and information for commemorations, celebrations, national days, international days, religious observances and other key events of relevance to NSW public school staff, students and their families.

Through acknowledgment and celebration of these days and events, NSW public schools can lead the way to social harmony by engendering positive interactions between students, staff and community members from the range of cultural, linguistic and religious traditions of Australians.

Each year, the calendar promotes a different theme relating to cultural diversity in the Australian context.

  • Explore as a class what the theme for the calendar for cultural diversity calendar for 2023 'Creating Connections' means.
  • Discuss what this theme means to the students considering their different school, personal and community contexts.
  • Explore the languages featured in each month including related literature.
  • Investigate significant events, features and relationships within the students’ personal, school, local or global community.
  • Reflect on the ways that artists make artworks that are then interpreted and valued differently by audiences.
  • View artworks that have been made for different reasons and consider the who, where, when, why and how of these works.
  • Identify possible symbols and techniques artists use in making their artworks to convey their message, meaning or subject matter.
  • Investigate traditions, forms, materials and techniques in artworks that are suitable for portraying this subject matter.
  • Consider the various ways in which the students, as artists, could present their work visually for possible inclusion in the calendar for cultural diversity.


A different language is featured on each month of the calendar, to reflect the linguistic diversity of NSW public school students who speak more than 230 different languages. Each year twelve languages are chosen to reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of NSW.

July’s language is Awabakal which belongs to the Yuin–Kuric branch of the Pama-Nyungan family of Australian languages.

July’s language is Awabakal which belongs to the Yuin–Kuric branch of the Pama-Nyungan family of Australian languages. Awabakal is the language of the people who, when first encountered by European settlers in the 1820s, lived in the coastal area of what is now known as the Hunter Region of New South Wales. Their traditional territory spread from Wollombi in the west, to the Lower Hunter River near Newcastle and Lake Macquarie in the north. In their language, awaba was the word for Lake Macquarie, meaning a flat or plain surface, ba denoted place of and kal was the suffix used to denote the masculine or man and thus they became known as the Awabakal people and their language as Awabakal.

Missions in the Newcastle area worked systemically to destroy Awabakal Cultural Knowledge. There are now no fluent speakers, however the language is being revitalised using the extensive work of Awabakal leader Birabaan and an English missionary Lancelot Threlkeld who landed at Swansea Beach on Christmas Day 1825. Birabaan spoke fluent English and gave Therlkeld daily language instruction and acted as his translator. With Birabaan’s help, Threlkeld learned from the Aboriginal people about their language and beliefs and witnessed some of their rituals, recording dreaming stories and significant places, as well as cultural practices. Together they wrote the first grammar of an Australian Aboriginal language, a dictionary and accounts of cultural practices. They also translated parts of the Bible to the language. Birabaan was not only an effective teacher but also leader maintaining good relations between his community and the new settlers. In 1892 their work was edited and published by John Fraser as an account of the language, traditions and customs of the Awabakal people. In 1986 Birabaan and Threlkeld’s work became the basis for an Awabakal language revitalisation project. In common with other Aboriginal people, Awabakal people did not mark time by days and months but by seasons. July or thereabouts was winter, takarir.

In 2021 about 700 students participated in Awabakal language programs in NSW primary schools.

The wedge-tailed eagle has special significance for the Awabakal people. Koin or Coen, their celestial entity, looks like an Aboriginal man but in flight resembles an eagle.

Awabakal Language Program


Each year, NSW public schools are invited to submit student artwork for possible inclusion in the calendar for cultural diversity around a given theme. The artwork selected for inclusion in each calendar represents the creative talents of public school students from across the state.

The theme of the 2024 calendar for cultural diversity is 'Our Voices'.

Submissions are now open and will close on 1 September 2023.

Each year, the calendar for cultural diversity includes an inset on the relevant lunar year, and its Australian zodiac equivalent, on the inside cover. 2024 is the Lunar Year of the Dragon / Dragon lizard. Schools are invited to submit artwork on the theme 'Our Voices' or the lunar year theme.

Artwork should:

  • reflect the theme
  • link to curriculum area
  • be the work of a single student or a group of students.

Possible techniques, forms and styles may include (and are not limited to):

  • drawing, cartooning or sketching - using pencils, inks, felt pens, charcoal, pastels or crayons
  • photography and digital media - using apps, computer software, digital or other cameras for photography
  • mixed media - collage, photo montage
  • 3D - sculpture, textiles, fibre, installations using found or other objects and materials
  • painting - watercolour, oil, acrylic or gouache paints, sgraffito
  • printmaking - etching, monoprinting, linocuts, collagraph, or bas relief.

Students should consider their use of artmaking practices and qualities such as:

  • line, shape and form
  • proportion, space and perspective
  • colour - light and dark and shading
  • texture
  • repetition and patterns
  • points of interest and emphasis
  • signs and symbols and so on.

Schools may submit up to four entries.

Photographs should be submitted although the original artwork will need to be available for shortlisted schools.

File name of artwork should include name of school and title of artwork.

The following information should be gathered before submitting each artwork:

  • name of artist/s
  • year/s
  • title of artwork
  • name of school
  • traditional country on which school is located
  • name and email of teacher contact
  • description relating to the work on the relevant annual theme (approximately 25 - 50 words)
  • completed authority to publish form (DOC 37KB). For whole class or whole school artworks, a member of the school executive can complete the form on behalf of the school.

Submit an artwork by completing the calendar for cultural diversity artwork entry form.

Submissions close Friday 1 September 2023

For more information please contact

Digital backgrounds

Explore and download our new digital backgrounds which can be used as desktop wallpapers and/or backgrounds in virtual meetings.

Image: Example of digital background


The following resources provide teaching and learning activities to promote intercultural understanding:

Return to top of page Back to top