Mayor Rod Fyffe says the city’s first plan for diversity and inclusion is not only about addressing the needs of new Australians but would also position local businesses to tap into overseas markets.
“If you look at the citizenship ceremonies you find that there is quite a number of Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans, Karen people and others who do want to come here to Bendigo,” Cr Fyffe said.
“These are people who are living with us, they have a lot to contribute to our community and we ought to be making sure we can tap into all of that potential.
“Indeed there are already employers who deliberately target non-English speaking people to cultivate potential exports overseas.”
Cr Fyffe said the draft Greater Bendigo Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Plan which will be tabled at tonight’s council meeting would help employers tap into the economic and linguistic opportunities provided by a culturally diverse community.
It also aims to prevent and address racial and religious discrimination in the community,'City community partnerships manager Steven Abbott
“Look at the bank, for example, if they’ve got a teller who can speak Karen or Urdu then they can converse with those communities in their own language so they can better understand what’s going on,” he said.
“In that case the business will win, the individual will win and the community will be a winner.”
The mayor said the draft plan identified sport as a key means to integrate diverse communities.
“What we’re trying to do is to create pathways so they can enter into and be part of our general population more quickly and with a greater degree of certainty,” Cr Fyffe said.
“So they know, for example, if they go to a basketball or a volleyball or a football club that, A, they will be welcome and, B, there will be someway they will be able to be integrated into that community successfully and quickly.”
City of Greater Bendigo community partnerships manager Steven Abbott also aims to prevent and address racial and religious discrimination in the community. Among the actions proposed in the draft plan is an ‘anti-racism bystander intervention training’.
There are also proposals to translate key documents and developing alternative accessible formats and creating a a welcome pack for residents from culturally diverse backgrounds.
The plan would also include celebrating Harmony Day by participating in the ‘A Taste of Harmony’ event. If endorsed, the plan will be released for public comment until August 8.