BENDIGO'S Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services has learnt about growing a small organisation over the past year, as its income, staffing and programs all increased substantially.
Executive officer Kate McInnes said this growth was one of the key outcomes discussed at the organisation's annual general meeting on Monday night.
Ms McInnes said the establishment of a multicultural hub was one of LCMS's biggest priority into the next year. The space would be a one-stop shop for migrants and refugees to access support services.
Guest speakers Brad Chilcott and Aleem Ali shared their experience running Welcoming Australia, which has a similar space in Adelaide. This centre creates a safe and supportive space for refugee families, people seeking asylum, migrants and community members.
Opportunities to connect, opportunities to get to know each other they benefit everybody.Kate McInnes, executive officer, Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services
Ms McInnes said hearing that the hub worked well in Adelaide gave Bendigo a great model into the future.
"We know that multicultural communities need a space ... but to hear that in Adelaide that it was also embraced by the mainstream community as well," she said.
"Opportunities to connect, opportunities to get to know each other they benefit everybody. Multiculturalism has social benefits, has cultural benefits, also has economic benefits.
"It's not kind of one community will lose out, or another community stands to gain more. We all stand to gain more if we have opportunities to connect."
Welcoming Australia's founder Mr Chilcott said the centre did the practical side of welcoming: creating the opportunity to build relationships.
"That's really the foundation of being a welcoming and socially cohesive place," Mr Chilcott said.
"When you sit down with someone and hear their story and understand that you have the same hopes and dreams. That you just want a safe place to enable your kids to chase their dreams.
"Then the barriers between people start to break down."
About 6000 people attended LCMS's multicultural festival Zinda in 2019, 2000 more than in 2018. The service also secured a contract under the Regional Multicultural Consortium's Settlement, Engagement, Transition and Support Program.
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