Ballarat City Council: Diversity is an ‘imperative’

Ballarat City Council cultural partnership officer Liz Hardiman and Ballarat Rural Australians for Refugees Des Roache and Bryan Dwyer celebrate Harmony Day 2017.

Ballarat City Council cultural partnership officer Liz Hardiman and Ballarat Rural Australians for Refugees Des Roache and Bryan Dwyer celebrate Harmony Day 2017.

A draft plan to develop cultural diversity will be unveiled for public comment following a Ballarat City Council general meeting on Wednesday night.

Council will vote to endorse the draft plan intercultural strategic plan 2017-21 for feedback and further information.

The city’s first cultural diversity strategy was developed in 2009.

Ballarat has since been endorsed as by the Council of Europe’s Intercultural City Network.

It made the municipality the first city to receive the network’s endorsement in Australia.

Ballarat City mayor Samantha McIntosh said it was imperative for council to have an inclusive approach that considered the municipality’s culturally diverse communities.

“We have seen through Harmony Festival and examples like that, a much better approach to cultural diversity,” she said.

“The big goal is that we work together as a broad and diverse community.

“Ballarat has certainly been at the forefront when it comes to the intercultural cities approach.

“We were the first signatory in the nation and we are working very broadly around the country with other municipalities on this particularly approach.”

The background used to develop the strategy included the federal and state governments’ multicultural policy statements, and the Local Government Act.

The draft strategy’s aims included providing a clear direction to grow council’s capacity for supporting the principles of intercultural practice.

Cr McIntosh said it was important for people arriving in Ballarat to be confident the city understood there were many different religious and cultural beliefs.

“We encourage them to celebrate and retain those beliefs,” she said.

“Going way back to the gold rush, there was a very multicultural community, but what we have seen over the years is a lot of segregation with each of those communities working as their own.