Bendigo to address cultural challenges
The City of Greater Bendigo has announced its first ever Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Plan.
The announcement comes in light of recent protests and violent clashes triggered by plans to build Bendigo’s first mosque.
The Plan aims to improve attitudes towards multiculturalism, reduce racial and religious discrimination, and increase opportunities for culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse residents.
It was launched at a breakfast forum on Monday featuring Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Monash University social cohesion researcher, Professor Andrew Markus, and deputy Lord Mayor of Adelaide City Council, Houssam Abiad.
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Peter Cox came out strongly against racist behaviour and said all people have the right to participate in all aspects of society.
“The Greater Bendigo region is a great place to live and we’re aspiring to be the most liveable in Australia. A diverse and inclusive community is an important part of this aspiration.
“Some people’s ancestry dates back to the gold rush, while the Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung Aboriginal clans have called the region home for thousands of years. Others are new residents to our city, relocating from elsewhere in Australia or the world.
“Regardless of where you come from or how long you have lived in Bendigo, it is essential all residents from various cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds feel valued and included, and no one’s Human Rights are neglected.
“Cultural inclusion is not always a given, just because people from different countries settle in one place. Social exclusion, intolerance and prejudice can harm a city’s reputation and impact on the quality of life of residents.
“The Plan will be an opportunity to identify how Bendigo can harness the many cultural changes it is experiencing.”
Guest speaker Dr Tim Soutphommasane commended the City of Greater Bendigo on its efforts to tackle racial and religious intolerance.
“Bendigo has provided a powerful example of the strength of our communities when we are united."