Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city with a population of just over 67,000. It is situated by the Tamar River in the north of the state and, while it has the atmosphere of a regional community town, it also has the diversity, facilities and services of a large city.
The city prides itself on its strong community spirit and recognises the city’s increasing diversity as a real strength. Although predominantly populated by people of European and Anglo descent, the city has welcomed an increasing number of refugees over the past ten years, with the largest numbers from Bhutan, Sudan, Nepal and Burma.
As a signatory to the RWZ declaration since 2010, Launceston City Council collaborates with other community organisations and government to assist refugees and new arrivals in settling in the community.
While not traditionally a direct provider of humanitarian services, the Launceston City Council works in partnership with or provides support to service providers and community groups to facilitate activities, programs and events that celebrate diversity and inclusion. Through the Community Grants and Events Sponsorship programs, direct financial assistance is provided to support events such as the Sudanese community’s South Sudanese Independence Day celebrations.
The Council participates in the annual Harmony Day festival, celebrating diversity in the northern suburbs of Launceston.
In Launceston, the Migrant Resource Centre (Northern Tasmania) is often the first point of contact for refugees and new arrivals. It is important for Councils to work with community organisations, both in gaining access to specific cultural groups in the community and in working together to deliver to those groups, the services and support that they need. The Council works with the Migrant Resource Centre, to plan for the arrival and welcoming of new refugees into the Launceston community. The most recent settlement has been of Afghan Hazara refugees, a new community for the Launceston area.