Multiculturalism and People Seeking Asylum
The City of Greater Dandenong is the most culturally diverse community in Australia, with residents from 157 birth places and 64% of its population born overseas. Many of those who have migrated to the area have origins in parts of the world with recent histories of conflict, violence and displacement.
There are approximately 2,000 people seeking asylum residing in Greater Dandenong - the largest in any Victorian municipality. Further information is available on the Social Statistics section on Council's website.
Council, as well as community organisations and local business, supports refugees and asylum seekers to help achieve a healthy, active and safe life in this community. Council’s approach to supporting the refugee and asylum seeker community involves work in three key areas:
- People – we actively promote welcoming and inclusive communities
- Place – we advocate for increased housing accessibility and greater access to council and community facilities
- Opportunity – we work to provide opportunities to participate in community life through volunteering; education and employment
Refugee Welcome Zone
The Refugee Welcome Zone is a local government area that has made a commitment to welcome refugees into the community, uphold the human rights of refugees, demonstrate compassion and enhance cultural and religions diversity in the community. This initiative is being promoted by the Refugee Council of Australia.
City of Greater Dandenong has been a Refugee Welcome Zone since 2002. Council actively promotes and advocates for the rights of forcibly displaced people.
Greater Dandenong is the most diverse community in Victoria and has a long and proud history of welcoming new and emerging communities, including migrants arriving through humanitarian programs. Our cultural diversity and range of support services makes Greater Dandenong one of the most desirable areas for settlement.
More than 2700 recently-arrived migrants settled in Greater Dandenong in 2011-12, the highest number of settlers in any Victorian municipality. Nearly a third were humanitarian immigrants, largely from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Pakistan.
Refugees have made a significant contribution to the economic, social and cultural life of our municipality and Council values and is committed to promoting cultural, linguistic and religious diversity; community harmony and respect for all.
Our message is simple: Welcome refugees! Welcome all!
For further information on Refugee Welcome Zones please visit www.refugeecouncil.org.au
Refugee Council Refugee Welcome Zones Report (PDF - 1.5MB)
Refugee and Asylum Seeker Statement
The Refugee and Asylum Seeker Statement sets out the position of Council and the commitment it has made to the asylum seeker and refugee community. It was signed by Cr Jim Memeti (Mayor in 2014) at the council meeting of 24 June 2014. Below is the statement text, but you can also view the document in the gallery at the bottom of this web page.
"The City of Greater Dandenong acknowledges the journey of refugees and asylum seekers who are often fleeing from conflict, human rights violations and persecutions. Refugees come to our community seeking safety and protection in order to rebuild their lives. They bring resilience, hope, motivation and skills and contribute substantially to our community social, civic and economic life.
As a Refugee Welcome Zone, the City of Greater Dandenong has made a commitment to welcome refugees into the community, uphold their human rights, demonstrate compassion and enhance cultural and religious diversity in the community.
Council values partnerships and collaboration with community organisations and the community service agencies that provide support services and direct assistance in the settlement of refugees and asylum seekers.
Council is committed to:
promoting social inclusion, equity and community participation in all Council services
actively providing opportunities for refugee and asylum seeker communities to participate in community life
raising awareness and knowledge about asylum seekers and refugees within the wider community
celebrating the contribution of refugees and asylum seekers, including their many cultures and faiths
collaborating with our partners, community groups and local agencies to strengthen operations or capacity and enhance local coordination
raising issues or advocating for appropriate supports and resources to meet the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.
Cr Jim Memeti
23 June 2014
Joint statement on asylum seekers living in the community
In recognition of the large contingent of asylum seekers living in the municipality, the City of Greater Dandenong hosted a mayoral forum on asylum seekers living in the community. The forum resulted in the joint statement on asylum seekers living in the community, which has been supported by 21 Councils including the City of Greater Dandenong. This statement calls on the Commonwealth Government for increased resources to enable an adequate response at the local government level to asylum seeker need.
This statement reaffirms our commitment to welcome asylum seekers, uphold their human rights, demonstrate compassion and enhance cultural and religious diversity in the community.
The joint statement was presented to the Australian Government by Councillors Sean O'Reilly and Roz Blades AM in June 2015.
Read joint statement on asylum seekers living in the community (PDF - 707KB)
Asylum Seeker and Refugee Advisory Committee
In November 2014 Council established its inaugural Asylum Seeker and Refugee Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee comprises of informed, engaged and qualified representatives who will support the delivery of the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Communities Action Plan and enable a cohesive response to the identified need in the area.
The City of Greater Dandenong is currently seeking nominations for representatives from the community, organisations and service providers to the Greater Dandenong Asylum Seeker and Refugees Communities Advisory Committee.
The Committee provides advice to Council on the implementation of the Asylum Seeker and Refugees Communities Action Plan 2014-17 and develops strategic partnerships to enhance services in Greater Dandenong.
Positions on the Committee are voluntary and meetings will be bi-monthly.
Asylum Seekers and Refugees: Services and Programs
Advice, Assistance and Services
The South East Region Refugee and Asylum Seeker Service Directory contains information about agencies that offer advice and support to refugees and asylum seekers on a range of issues ranging from housing, community support and access, language skills, facilities and health.
South East Region Refugee and Asylum Seeker Service Directory 7.1 (PDF - 2.6MB)
Directories, Applications and Guides
'The Beginning a Life in Australia' booklet provides useful national, state/territory and local settlement information for migrants, humanitarian entrants, their sponsors and service providers. This information is available to download in English and 37 community languages.
Council’s online community directory is a free online service that lists community organisations. Access is free and it can be used to either promote your service or to find local services.
The English for Asylum Seekers app was created by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and help people find English classes in Greater Dandenong.
Council is involved in a number of consultative committees that support diversity and foster community relationships. These committees include:
Greater Dandenong Multicultural Advisory Committee
Greater Dandenong Multicultural Advisory Committee - established in the City of Greater Dandenong to strengthen community relationships and to increase collaboration with multicultural communities. The effort of this committee will contribute to community wellbeing, harmony and prosperity of Greater Dandenong.
Regional Advisory Council
The Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) has established eight Regional Advisory Councils across the State to provide advice, advocate and promote the benefits of culturally and religiously diverse communities. Each Regional Advisory Council has up to 13 appointed members including local residents and representatives from service providers, community organisations, businesses and local government. Each Council meets three times per year. The City of Greater Dandenong is a member of the Southern Metropolitan Regional Advisory Council.
South East Settlement Committee
South East Settlement Committee aims to strengthen strategic collaboration in relation to settlement planning and services for refugees in the City of Greater Dandenong, City of Casey and Cardinia Shire Council. Membership consists of agencies dealing with migrant and refugee settlement issues including a representative from the City of Greater Dandenong.
Victorian Settlement Planning Outcomes Committee
The Victorian Settlement Planning Outcomes Committee (VSPOC) was established in 2015 under the National Settlement Framework (the Framework) as the cross sector settlement coordination body for Victoria. VSPOC is focused on maximising the effectiveness of settlement and other support services for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the State and strengthening Victoria’s social cohesion, community resilience and participation outcomes. The City of Greater Dandenong is a member of VSPOC.
VSPOC is co-chaired by the Department of Social Services and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMAC) which sits within the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet. OMAC works in partnership with the Victorian Multicultural Commission to promote and facilitate the coordination of services and effective settlement outcomes for newly arrived migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.