Hume City Council (Hume) is the third largest LGA (local government areas) in Melbourne and the traditional lands of the Gunung-Willam Balluk clan of the Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung people. Today, Hume has residents from 156 different countries, speaking over 153 languages. Over 35 per cent of Hume residents were born overseas (70,435 people) (ABS 2016). Approximately 21% of our population arrived in the last five years. (ABS 2016).
Hume supports refugees and asylum seekers through our policy, programming, partnerships, and events. We adopted a Multicultural Framework in 2019 that includes goals and practices centring on refugee and asylum seeker experiences in Council planning and activities. In 2021, we affirmed our commitment to refugees and asylum seekers in our Social Justice Charter which is a strategic policy document of the Council. This commitment is furthered through our membership in Welcoming Cities, the Mayoral Taskforce Supporting People Seeking Asylum, and the Back Your Neighbour campaign.
Hume promotes and supports partnerships and collaboration with local agencies to improve services for all migrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum. Hume convenes the Multicultural Advisory Group which informs the Council about needs and issues in the sector and guides the Council regarding the implementation of its Multicultural Framework and Social Justice Charter.
As an ongoing capacity-building for staff, Hume City Council runs regular workshops to ensure that the workforce is skilled and competent to work and engage with colleagues and communities from diverse backgrounds. Themes of workshops include “Diversity and Inclusion at Work” and “Cultural Safety” based on the lived experiences of people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
Hume’s Economic Development team supports Local Employment Partnerships, Multiversity, and Labour Market Programs, of which 50% of their caseload are people from diverse backgrounds including new migrants and refugees. A particular highlight is the Steppingstones to Social Inclusion program for newly arrived, migrant and refugee women living in the three disadvantaged postcodes of 3047, 3048 and 3061
During the first wave of Coronavirus in Australia, Hume faced unique challenges in messaging and testing rates in our diverse community. Faced with increased Covid-19 cases and low vaccination rates, Council received the Covid-19 Local Partnership Funding (Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet) to help establish a Hume City Covid-19 response team that would ensure a whole-of-council and community approach. One of the programs to come out of the community engagement was the Hume Health Champions, a team of community leaders from diverse backgrounds deployed to engage with members of their own communities. There were 26 Champions in total, across 18 different language groups. While getting health information out to the community, the Champions also became the faces of Hume’s official Covid-19 communications campaign. This made the communications and engagement even more effective because they featured people the community already knew. In October 2021 Hume’s double vaccination rate went from 35.1% to more than 78.7%. Council recognises that this was the result of a whole-of community effort from a range of community organisations, groups, government, and individuals. Hume’s health Promotion team continues connecting with the Health Champions for the next phase of the pandemic, as part of the wider Hume COVID Response and Recovery program.
Events and Celebrations
Hume celebrates Refugee Week every June, highlighting the wealth of talent and knowledge of their refugee communities. The programming includes library book displays and themed Bilingual Story time sessions, public banners, social media messaging, speaking engagements, performances, and free activities. Council also supports the Hume Interfaith Network to host events, such as the annual Harmony Day, that are inclusive of the many religions in Hume practiced by refugee residents to encourage understanding and harmony, encourage community participation, and foster cohesion.
Arts and Culture
Hume’s Arts and Culture team provides many opportunities for artists with refugee and asylum-seeking experiences to show their work.
Tapping Into My Silent Voice: Ava Tapestry Group Exhibition 2022
An exhibition of tapestries and other woven work made by women from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds affected by violence. The tapestry classes build skills, foster a sense of belonging and help break down barriers through the power of crafting, friendship, and trust, restoring hope for women to move forward with their lives in a new place. Their weaving reflects their resilience, friendships, and enjoyment of weaving.
In partnership with the City of Whittlesea and the PRIME project, supported by DPV Health nurses, Hume City Council facilitated four, pop-up vaccination clinics dedicated to providing a safe and inclusive space for the refugee and asylum seeker community of Hume. This initiative, and widely promoted through settlement services and community organisation channels. Pop-up vaccination hubs in convenient locations across the municipality using bicultural staff have been an effective strategy in ensuring our diverse community has access to vaccinations and Covid information and support.