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City of Greater Dandenong

DandyThe City of Greater Dandenong is located in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. It is a dynamic and vibrant city and is known as Australia’s most culturally diverse municipality. The area has a population of approximately 169,000 people, with more than half of whom were born overseas. 

Each year, Greater Dandenong welcomes around 2,700 newly arrived people, many of which are refugees and people seeking asylum. The City has a long and proud history of welcoming new and emerging communities in the area and is one of the major refugee settlement hubs in Australia.  

As a Refugee Welcome Zone since 2014 and part of the Refugee Welcome Zone Leadership Group since 2020, Council has made a national commitment to welcome people of refugee backgrounds into the community – demonstrating compassion and enhancing cultural and religious diversity across the municipality.  

Greater Dandenong has supported and implemented a wide range of projects, programs, and events that support refugees in the local area. These include(d) annual celebrations of Refugee Week and Cultural Diversity Week, providing funding through grant programs to refugee communities, chairing the Local Government Mayoral Taskforce Supporting People Seeking Asylum, establishing the Multicultural and People Seeking Asylum Advisory Committee, and supporting youth inclusion projects and multicultural playgroups.

BACK YOUR NEIGHBOUR  

Since 2018, the Local Government Mayoral Taskforce Supporting People Seeking Asylum has been advocating for the rights of people seeking asylum to the Federal and Victorian State Government.  

Established and Chaired by Greater Dandenong Council, the Mayoral Taskforce is now made up of 38 Councils nationwide, banding together to advocate for a fairer and swifter Refugee Status Determination system.  Playing a pivotal role in the Mayoral Taskforce’s advocacy efforts has been the Back Your Neighbour campaign. The campaign has sought to mobilise community support to influence federal policies around a fairer Refugee Status Determination process in the lead up to the 2022 Federal Election.  

Activities undertaken by the Mayoral Taskforce have included participation at the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees in 2019, 2021, and 2022, the development of a petition and political scorecard for both the 2019 and 2022 Federal Elections, as well as, countless meetings with political decision makers.  Most recently in 2022, a delegation of Mayors and Councillors representing the Mayoral Taskforce attended Parliament House to meet with MPs and Senators from the Liberal Party, Labor Party, Greens, and Independents. The delegation highlighted the dire conditions for many people seeking asylum, without access to Medicare, trauma counselling, work rights, education or basic financial support.

D

NEW BEGINNINGS FESTIVAL 

In 2022, Greater Dandenong Council hosted a welcome event for recently arrived community members that had fled Afghanistan.  

Committed to creating an inviting and inclusive city, the New Beginnings welcome event sought to connect the Afghan community in the south east region to local arts and culture, and provide opportunities for them to learn more about a range of available services like housing, employment, food and material aid.

The event included children’s activities, a Welcome to Country, live performances by Afghan cultural groups and artists, a Halal BBQ, library tours and information from service providers.

GREATER DANDENONG COMMUNITY CONNECTOR INITIATIVE  

Council’s Community Connector Officer provides on the ground support to vulnerable members of the community who may not have access to support networks and/or are struggling financially, experiencing poor mental and/or physical health, and who may be at risk of homelessness.  

It has become evident that people seeking asylum are over-represented amongst this cohort, therefore a large portion of the Community Connector’s work is involved with humanitarian migrants.  

The kinds of initiatives that people seeking asylum can access through this program include practical help (e.g. running errands, collecting food, shopping vouchers), emotional support (e.g. wellbeing check-ins, help with connecting to friends and family), and social activities (providing connections to participate in social, community and recreation activities).   

D HOME EXHIBITION 

HOME is an annual exhibition and program that promotes and supports artists seeking asylum or those with a refugee background. HOME showcases emerging and established artists and celebrates the enormous contribution that they bring to our community, both in City of Greater Dandenong and beyond.  

In addition to the exhibition, each artist participates in professional development opportunities throughout the year. This will be extended in 2022 to include curatorial professional development opportunities.

MULTICULTURAL AND PEOPLE SEEKING ASYLUM ADVISORY COMMITTEE 

In December 2018, Council established its inaugural Multicultural and People Seeking Asylum Advisory Committee, comprising of informed, engaged and qualified representatives from the community and organisations working in Greater Dandenong.  

The Committee continues to provide advice to Council on: 

  • implementation of the People Seeking Asylum and Refugee Action Plan 2018-22 
  • development of strategic partnerships to enhance services in Greater Dandenong for its multicultural community  
  • other Council plans, policies and strategies

GREATER DANDENONG MATERIAL AID CONSORTIUM 

In July 2018, Council established a pilot collective impact program to create a consortium of local organisations to better coordinate delivery of material aid to vulnerable community members in the municipality, focusing on people seeking asylum.  

The consortium approach significantly improved collaboration between partnering agencies so that the distribution of emergency relief to the community became more efficient. Evidenced in 2020 with the onset of COVID, partnerships enabled Council and agencies to pivot and support the community at a critical time providing food relief across the system.  

In 2021-22 the consortium agencies and Council in consultation with the community have prepared a draft Anti-Poverty Strategy for the municipality to address root causes and continue to work with the most vulnerable.

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