New Partnership to Boost Inclusive Communities
10 March 2016 at 11:05 am
The Scanlon Foundation and advocacy Not for Profit Welcome to Australia have launched a national initiative to assist governments, organisations and individuals create more culturally inclusive communities.
Welcoming Cities will build a national network primarily of local government leaders and representatives who are at the forefront of grappling with the challenges and the opportunities of migration.
This will include receiving, settling and integrating migrants, both skilled and those that come to Australia for humanitarian reasons.
Welcoming Cities Manager, Aleem Ali, said the initiative would focus on sharing knowledge and creating partnerships to develop successful multicultural and intercultural policies across all communities.
“The really significant piece of work we’re looking at is consulting on community standards and developing an international accreditation model around what it means to be a welcoming city,” Ali said.
“[We’ll be] working with local governments and local councils to develop that set of standards and develop an accreditation model that would give them a framework.”
He said that Welcoming Cities would also celebrate communities that are achieving inclusiveness.
“So acknowledging the great work that local governments and local communities are already doing in this space and shining a bit of a spotlight on it,” he said.
“Sometimes the dominant discourse around migration and refugees is one of fear and division and so we want to start telling some of the really great stories of great work that’s going on in communities.”
Australia’s population is projected to reach 38 million by 2050, with net overseas migration a key contributing factor in that growth. Additionally, migration will have contributed $1.6 trillion to Australia’s GDP.
Scanlon Foundation CEO, Anthea Hancocks, said Welcoming Cities was an important initiative, given the changing social landscape.
“We understand the many issues that local governments can face, especially when grappling with the challenges and opportunities that come with new and emerging communities,” Hancocks said.
“Welcoming Cities will assist local governments to be more effectively resourced, networked and genuinely connected with on-the-ground community development activities.”
The initiative was informed by the success of the Welcoming America model, developed by US social entrepreneur David Lubell in 2009.
The concept received the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and BMW Group Intercultural Innovation Award in 2014, and Lubell was subsequently named a Young Global Leader at the 2015 World Economic Forum.
Welcoming America is an international partner of Welcoming Cities, and Lubell attended the launch on Wednesday.
“Initiatives like Welcoming Cities help communities recognise the important ways that immigrants and refugees make them stronger economically, socially and culturally, and that welcoming is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do,” Lubell said.
“Welcoming America has seen communities transform into vibrant places where people from different backgrounds respect each other’s talents and values, and I have no doubt that Welcoming Cities is capable of the same in Australia.”