Awards for multicultural programs

In September, Ballarat City Council in the Central Highlands Region of Victoria received the prestigious Victorian Multicultural Award for Local Government as part of the 2010 Victorian Multicultural Commission Awards for Excellence.

Organised by the State Government, the Award recognises major improvements made, or initiatives developed, by a council to promote and strengthen multiculturalism.

Ballarat was recognised for its innovative Multicultural Ambassador Program.

As one of the largest inland cities in Australia, Ballarat has a population of over 90,000 people. Almost eight per cent of these people were born overseas.

Ballarat Mayor Judy Verlin said the Multicultural Ambassador Program provides benefits not only to the Ambassadors themselves, but to people right across the community.

“This Award is recognition of our combined efforts to embrace diversity,” she said. “The results of the program are evident in the growing multiculturalism of our community, as more and more migrants are choosing Ballarat as a place to start a new life.

“The Multicultural Ambassador Program has a wide ranging positive impact on cultural awareness and acceptance within our community. On a more personal level, for those directly involved with the program, it fosters friendship, socialisation, community cohesion and understanding for both the community and those new to our country.”

The first Multicultural Ambassador Program was launched in 2006 as part of Council’s Migrant Attraction and Retention Population Strategy. Following positive evaluation, a second program commenced in 2009.

The current program involves the appointment of ten Ballarat residents from various cultural backgrounds who provide leadership and assist Council, migrants and the wider community to ensure that multiculturalism in Ballarat is a productive and positive experience for all citizens.

Also recognised at the awards was Moreland City Council, which took out the Excellence in Service Delivery in Local Government Award for its CALDCOM Storyboards. This award recognises Council as an organisation that not only takes pride in its diverse resident population, but also effectively communicates with them.

The CALDCOM handbook is also recognised as an innovative communication tool that is assisting new migrants to settle into the community, especially during their first months.

“I am very happy that our investment in serving the needs of our culturally and linguistically diverse community is recognised in such a prestigious manner,” said Moreland Mayor Stella Kariofyllidis.

“It used to concern me that with more than half our population speaking a language other than English at home, we needed an easier way to communicate and connect with them.

“The innovative CALDCOM storyboards help bridge that gap in our service delivery.

“The CALDCOM Storyboards ensure that Council’s most vital civic messages are transmitted into 132 language groups, where previously, we catered for the largest eight language groups.

“This award marks the beginning of the next phase for the CALDCOM Storyboards, which will see them also evolve into web online services alongside our growing population.”