Social Cohesion for the win (Media release)

Merri-bek City Council came away a winner at last night’s Victoria’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence, which honours individuals and organisations that foster cross-cultural understanding, support migrants and refugees, and celebrate and promote diverse cultures.

Merri-bek won the Government and Civic Leadership Award, which recognises government bodies for major initiatives that meet the needs of their culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse communities.

Merri-bek is one of the few councils in Australia to adopt a Social Cohesion Plan. The plan is a result of years of research the council has undertaken to identify priority communities which are at risk of exclusion and discrimination that could lead to social problems.

The research was undertaken in partnership with the Islamic Council of Victoria, RMIT University and neighbouring Hume City Council, and focussed on the culturally diverse suburbs of Fawkner (Moreland) and Broadmeadows (Hume).

Under the plan, Council is supporting Fawkner Neighbourhood House to deliver a range of projects to ensure marginalised communities are included in community life and have ample employment opportunities.

Projects include monthly welcome dinners, work placements, personal and professional mentoring, leadership training and civics and citizenship education.

Merri-bek City Council has also funded the Stepping Stones Program, which helps refugees and disadvantaged migrants to start small businesses.

Victorian Multicultural Commission Chairperson Helen Kapalos said Victoria was known for embracing and celebrating multiculturalism.  

“The success of our multicultural story here in Victoria hasn’t just happened by chance. Rather, it is thanks to the collective goodwill and efforts of many outstanding individuals and groups,” Ms Kapalos said.

 “They are building a stronger, more resilient, and more cohesive society, at a time when it’s important that we remind the wider community of the great gifts diversity brings.”

Other award categories include business, government, education, youth and police.

13 September 2018