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Executive summary

In May 2016, the Government of Western Australia allocated $1 million to develop a program of initiatives that would leverage Chinese New Year (CNY) to promote Chinese culture and further strengthen relationships between Western Australia, China and neighbouring countries in the lead up to, during and after the Chinese New Year period, 27 January to 11 February 2017.

The 2017 CNY Program also provided an opportunity to promote the upcoming 30th anniversary of Sister State relationship between WA and Zhejiang (November 2017); the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and China and 2017 being the ‘Australia-China Year of Tourism’.

The Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) coordinated the design and delivery of the program in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders. OMI was selected to coordinate the program because of the agency’s knowledge of and relationships with WA’s multicultural communities. OMI’s role as the strategic co-ordinator and broker was integral to building the stakeholder relationships necessary to progress and leverage benefits for WA.

The 2017 Chinese New Year program was the first time that the State Government had identified a specific community celebration as a vehicle to progress engagement and strengthen outcomes that span across cultural and economic areas. It was also the first time that OMI had undertaken a program of this magnitude within a relatively short timeframe.

The CNY program focused on innovative programs that built community engagement, deepened cultural appreciation through three priority areas—tourism, international education and cultural diplomacy (through arts, culture and language) and including young professionals as a key target group.

The program objectives were broad: Increase awareness of the depth of engagement between WA and China and WA’s cultural and linguistic diversity. Strengthen Chinese and culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) community organisations and other relevant networks. Strengthen business networks and innovation opportunities for young professionals in WA and the target markets. Promote the uptake of language learning (Mandarin in WA and English in China). Promote WA as a study destination with a view to increase enrolments in Western Australian secondary schools and the higher education sector from target markets. Promote WA as a tourism destination with a view to increase visitation to WA from China.

The $1 million budget was structured into two complementary areas:

  1. Public activation programs—OMI contracted Avid Events to deliver a cultural program at Elizabeth Quay and expand existing Chinese New Year activations in Perth and Northbridge.
  2. Partnership programs—OMI funded government and community agencies to deliver 15 programs that addressed one or more of the priority areas.

1. Public Activation Program

The Avid Events Activation included a series of temporary activation installations and performances throughout Northbridge (James Street), the City of Perth (Forrest Chase, Brookfield Plaza) and Elizabeth Quay from 27 January to 5 February 2017. Avid employed around 70 people to deliver a cohesive, branded and coordinated festival to celebrate and promote Chinese and other Asian cultures and linking many of the partner activations.
The Elizabeth Quay free public event attracted around 25,100 people and included day and night activations, interactive and digital elements, workshops and traditional and contemporary Chinese performances. OMI engaged 33 Chinese community volunteers to provide language support. A public photographic exhibition depicting early Chinese migrants and contemporary Chinese Australians has been retained for future display at the State Library of WA.
The Forrest Chase reached around 25,087 people and was the site of a projection onto the GPO Building and the Friday night Hawkers Market was themed with red lanterns, music, and lion dancing. Around 620 people participated in Brookfield Place events which included the Chinese Fashion and Design Exhibition in a partnership with Fashion Council WA, morning Tai Chi lessons and Chinese Lion Dancing on Monday 30 January as part of the Fashion Council of WA’s ‘China Musings’ exhibition. OMI recruited seven volunteers who provided Chinese language support.

James Street was the site of the Chinatown Gate Chung Wah performance space as part of the Chinese New Year Fair which attracted 80,000 people. As part of Avid’s activation, the Chung Wah Association building on James Street was lit with projection and red ‘up’ lights on Sunday 29 January. Further along James Street at the Perth cultural centre, 3060 people visited the WA Museum’s CNY activities at the Discovery Zone in the State Library of WA.

The partnership programs:

  • Australia China Initiatives Limited—for the Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival which attracted over 800 people, including a strong representation of the local community and providing an opportunity to increase local audiences’ appreciation and understanding of Chinese culture and language.
  • Chinese Language Teachers Association—for a Community School Teachers’ and Teachers Professional Learning Project to increase the quality of Chinese language teaching and learning across the formal and informal education sectors.
  • Chung Wah Association—for the 2017 Perth Chinese New Year Fair which attracted around 80,000 people from across the Chinese and mainstream communities and engaged attendees in a celebration of the diversity of Chinese culture and traditions.
  • Confucius Institute of WA—for the Wenqin Performance Troupe Tour of WA which provided opportunities for cultural exchange through three public performances in Mandurah, Bunbury and Perth, nine workshops at schools with Chinese language programs and a performance at the Australia-China Business Council Lantern Festival Gala Dinner, reaching around 3,800 people. The project resulted in plans for future tours and for Confucius Institute to work with DSD to bring a primary school performance troupe to WA as part of celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the WA-Zhejiang Sister State relationship.
  • Department of Culture and the Arts—for a ‘Connect and Create: Creative Industries Forum’ which attracted around 160 people from across the WA arts and culture sector. The forum connected WA attendees with representatives from Shanghai Theatre Academy, the Director of the Chinese film ‘Song of Cotton’ and a Chinese international fashion buyer, brand consultant and columnist, enabling discussions regarding potential collaborations with the Asian arts and culture sector.
  • Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC)—for a Hong Kong-WA International Youth Exchange Program which saw an exchange of seven students between WA and Hong Kong, strengthening DLGC’s relationship with the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government with consideration being given to future exchanges.
  • Department of State Development—for a Zhejiang Digital Animation Delegation which brought 10 digital animation students from Zhejiang to WA for a professional development program, enhancing links between Chinese and Western Australian education and training providers and the digital animation industry.
  • Fashion Council WA—for the 2017 Chinese New Year Fashion Festival, the first of its kind, which included a ‘China Musings: A Fashion Journey’ campaign featuring top Chinese model Wang Yi, promotional activities with retailers Enex, Carillon and Garden City. Twelve leading local designers were commissioned to create a bespoke couture ensemble interpreting Chinese style displayed at Brookfield Place. A Chinese international fashion buyer, brand consultant and columnist was brought to WA for the event and also spoke at the DCA Creative Industries Forum. Connections continued following the project, with a delegation of three WA designers attending China Fashion Week in March 2017 and plans began for a multicultural theme for the Telstra Fashion Festival in September 2017.
  • OiChina—for the Yangzhou Cultural and Cuisine Festival which enabled a delegation from Yangzhou to undertake a range of arts performances and cooking demonstrations to around 6,500 people including WA Academy of Performing Arts, Methodist Ladies College, Australia-China Business Council and Chung Wah Association and in Forrest Chase. The visit provided an opportunity to promote WA brand food products and establish partnerships with Chinese industry peers and resulted in an invitation from Yangzhou government for a reciprocal visit.
  • Perth Airport—for a Welcome Activation—which for the first time saw the airport including CNY themed signage and branding at the Arrivals and Departures terminals, an Arrivals CNY Information Desk, themed content through the airport’s media channels and 33 Mandarin speakers volunteering as language ambassadors at the information desk to enhance the arrival experience for Chinese language speakers.
  • Study Perth Australia—for a Perth Professional Development and Internship ‘Picture Yourself in Perth’ Competition, a Chinese English Teachers Professional Development Program and a Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) visit that introduced Chinese teachers to education facilities in Perth and highlighted international study opportunities in Perth. The KOLs reached 763,923 Weibo followers attracting 4,825,000 views with a media value of $147,500 and 11,514 contacts through WeChat through 48 posts with a media value of $68,000. The Chinese English teachers have become ambassadors for Perth to current and future students.
  • Tourism WA—for a social media Buzz Marketing competition ‘Who can best match China and Western Australia?’ that attracted 235 participants and a visit by four KOLs who came to WA and visited key tourist attractions (Rottnest Island, Fremantle, Margaret River and the Swan Valley), promoting WA through online platforms Weibo and WeChat and reaching over two million followers.
  • Western Australian Chinese Scientists Association—for the inaugural Australia-China Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation which attracted 139 Australian and 122 Chinese delegates that brought together academia, government and industry around key themes of sustainable and resilient infrastructure, medical science and public health, clean energy, agricultural and food sciences, and policy business and entrepreneurship. The forum included a Young Professionals Forum attended by around 100 young professionals and provided a platform to promote WA not only as a research and industry partner but also as an attractive tourism destination.
  • Western Australian Museum— for a Discovery Centre at the WA State Library. The WA Museum presented children’s activities from 28 January 2016 to 15 February 2017, along with an exhibition of cultural artefacts sourced from the local Chinese community. Activities included making and decorating Chinese lanterns with images from the Chinese zodiac and attaching personal messages.
  • Wine Association of WA—for a ‘Journey of Discovery Dinner’ hosted at Matilda Bay Restaurant that brought together a group of 14 people comprising four Chinese KOLs, WA wine and WA Fishing Industry Council industry representatives to raise brand awareness of WA as a premium food, wine and lifestyle destination and demonstrate the synergy between white wine and seafood. The event laid the foundation for an ongoing relationship between the two industry associations and resulted in discussions regarding a potential reciprocal event in mainland China.

The CNY program highlighted the breadth of WA’s engagement with China and future collaborative opportunities including in the arts and culture, international education, science and technology and research sectors. It demonstrated the effectiveness of a whole of government and cross-sectoral approach that establishes and builds on networks across government, the community, business and industry and the tertiary education sectors.

The program was typified by a high degree of collaboration which built new relationships, connected community, government and industry, and strengthened cultural, diplomatic and business links between WA and China.

It also confirmed OMI as an appropriate lead agency for such an initiative due to its established networks across each of these sectors and across government. Coordination by OMI enabled connections to be made between projects and facilitated the development of collaborative partnerships and support for projects. The community engagement process also uncovered new community groups to deepen OMI’s existing network.

The program enabled program partners to build their profile, raise awareness, and expand their business activities. It connected people with different expertise to create something more than they could deliver independently and to identify and explore future collaborative opportunities.

A focus on young professionals produced positive and unexpected results and revealed the potential for greater engagement with this group. Those involved in the CNY program revealed themselves as a driving force for their communities and a support in connecting with the wider community.

As a result of the initiative there was a deepening of trust and respect in OMI’s relationship with the Chinese Consulate General in Perth, and the Consulate demonstrated its support through the gifting of lanterns and knots to the State. OMI and the State Government agencies involved have developed significant relationships with Western Australian Chinese communities representing both mainland and diaspora communities including those from Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Singapore.

OMI’s overarching communications plan ensured consistent messaging and an identifiable ‘brand’. It leveraged the combined stakeholder, media and social networking reach of partners and funded organisations and create positive media opportunities for all stakeholders.

An assessment of the investment in advertising and marketing indicates that this was achieved with expenditure of $21,2161 resulting in more than $269,000 in unpaid media coverage reaching an audience of around 3.7 million.

The program highlighted the power of social media and the influence of KOLs as an effective strategy to reach overseas markets and promote WA and its products and services.

It also highlighted the value of a bilingual approach using translated information and engagement of Chinese language speakers wherever possible, including on the OMI project team.

The program also produced several tangible legacy pieces including WA Maritime Museum’s bilingual (English/Mandarin) audio guide and OMI’s series of short video vignettes ‘Chinese Voices’ that have been retained for future use.

The investment in the 2017 Chinese New Year clearly demonstrated the potential for the State to strengthen recognition and understanding of its relationships with international trading partners through cultural and social initiatives that: invest in the relevant multicultural communities identify new community and business networks engage the wider population.

Based on the program’s success, it is recommended that the State Government consolidates the relationships and strategies established through the program. This could include capitalising on its Sister State relationship with Zhejiang Province, local government Sister City affiliations, and major cultural events as levers through which to promote international trade and domestic enterprise opportunities, and to further cultural understanding and cultural literacy across the WA community.

The program demonstrated the value of strengthening local multicultural community organisations to enable them to work as partners in achieving the State’s international trade, business and cultural priorities. The Chinese New year program model could be adapted to WA’s other major diaspora communities (e.g. India) and major trading partners particularly in Asia.


  1. This included $7,390 in paid advertising, $6,751 in branding support to partners and $7,072 in printing and marketing collateral - such as banners and t-shirts.
Page reviewed 11 October 2023