Australian Intercultural Society Luncheon Series
Lord Mayor of Melbourne the Rt Hon Robert Doyle
25 August 2014
The Right Hon Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, spoke about “the five priorities of Melbourne as a City for People” in an event moderated by 2013 Melburnian of the Year, Salvation Army’s Major Brendan Nottle.
Nearly 100 people attended this event, from small and large businesses, banking, schools, universities, not-for-profits, local councils, police, as well as religious and ethnic group leaders.
The Lord Mayor outlined five priorities for Melbourne to remain as “a City for People”, a city that is the envy of the world as it has kept the title of Most Liveable City four years in a row, surpassing 139 cities to becoming first on the list the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Survey.
“With 207 ancestries, 230 languages and dialects and 120 faiths, Melbourne’s defining characteristic, besides its coffee, is its people,” the Lord Mayor said.
Melbourne’s top five priorities are:
1. Embracing newcomers
“Our first priority is to embrace the newest residents when they arrive, to make them feel welcome here at home from day one,” said the Lord Mayor.
The Multicultural Hub provides a place for people to come together, seek advice and information and express themselves.
There’s a welcome desk at Tullamarine Airport and ‘The Couch’ Drop-in Centre at Bourke St, which is a first port of call for many of Melbourne’s 33,000 international students.
This year, the Lord Mayor hosted a Student Welcome event on 2 August, where students received information on events and activities, as well as enjoying a fashion runway and a reptile exhibit.
Melburnians embrace newcomers with the friendliness that has earned it a tie for top spot as the friendliest city according to a survey by Conde Naste Traveller.
A person who had come for the AIDS conference in Melbourne seemed lost and looked around to find his way. A street sweeper saw him and stopped his vehicle and called out, “Hey mate, do you need help? Directions?” The street sweeper showed the newcomer the Melbourne spirit.
2. Supporting our people
“Supporting families after they arrive is vital to the way they settle in our community,” said the Lord Mayor.
An information program for new arrival at Docklands and the Multicultural Hub sees 120 families per week, who are transitioned into family services where required.
The City of Melbourne also offers interpreter services for all appointments at the City of Melbourne, as well as for counselling.
3. Celebrating our cultural diversity
“Cultural events draw people to the city, boost the economy, break down barriers and build a sense of belonging,” said the Lord Mayor.
The Events Partnership Program funds 24 cultural festivals, including the Polish Festival, the Diwali Festival and the Japanese festival. These festivals drew in 750,000 people.
The Triennial Arts Grants funded more than 353 multicultural related activities in 2013.
The Africa Day Celebration was among a group of 42 multicultural related projects funded through the Community Grants Program.
4. Creating opportunity
There are 1 million people in the City of Melbourne on Friday or Saturday night.
In the last six years, the economy has grown by a third with 76,000 new jobs. Melbourne’s economy is “in transition”, with some jobs lost while jobs are generated in other sectors.
5. A place for people
“I believe the thing that sets this city apart, the thing that makes this city ‘work’ is that it is a place for all people,” said the Lord Mayor.
Streets are not just the space between buildings. Melbourne has vibrant streets and laneways. 66% of trips in the city are entirely on foot.
When Melbourne increased the walking connectivity in the city centre by 10%, it added $2.1 billion value to the economy.
Melbourne can create safer streets because of partnerships with Victoria Police and organisations like the Salvation Army who have teams to work with the vulnerable and those in need of help, as well as those who might be on the brink of causing trouble.
“Our peaceful, tolerant and friendly community in Melbourne is out city’s greatest asset, and we intend to keep it that way,” said the Lord Mayor.
“How can we keep Melbourne as the most liveable city?” asked Major Brendan Nottle.
“We have to reach out into and across communities, and this luncheon is a great example of that,” said the Lord Mayor.
One guest asked about housing affordability and infrastructure, a key part of what makes a city liveable.
The Lord Mayor advocated for new tram paths and trees, which can help with the city’s temperatures which can be five degrees hotter than in outer suburbs.
In terms of housing affordability, the Lord Mayor said it was a difficult topic. Regulations can increase house prices, but lack of regulation can lead to poor housing options so a balance is needed between the two.
AIS condemns the violence in Iraq and Syria and photo of the 7-yr old boy
14 August 2014
The Australian Intercultural Society strongly condemns the incident in which a young boy is made to hold a severed head and pose for a photograph. No child should ever be put in this position. This image and the actions behind this are contrary to everything that Islam stands for.
The AIS is deeply concerned by the violent actions of IS militants in Syria and Iraq who are brutally killing all who stand against them, demolishing homes and destroying historic sacred sites.
They display blatant disregard for free will and human rights in the way that they either kill or force their ideological position on others.
This brutality is contrary to the teachings of Islam and an affront to humanity.
Islam demands that places of worship be protected and that the human rights of all be safe-guarded, regardless of their backgrounds, beliefs or ethnicity.
Ahmet Polat, executive director of the Australian Intercultural Society, said the situation that is unfolding in Iraq and Syria is deeply concerning and absolutely contrary to the true principles of Islam and Muslims.
“Those who conduct or support this violence might claim to act in the name of religion but the reality is that, in the words of contemporary Muslim scholar Fethullah Gulen who said, ‘A terrorist can NOT be a Muslim, nor can a Muslim be a terrorist’.
“Islam values life immensely and the Quran clearly states that killing one person is just like killing the whole of humanity,” Mr Polat said.
We trust the Australian community will understand that the despicable actions of these terrorists represent the inexcusable actions of a minority and that they do not find support with ordinary Muslims in Australia or anywhere.
We deeply regret that these murders claim to speak in the name of Islam and we reject completely everything they do.
We express our most profound condolences to all people who have lost loved ones in the region as a result of the violence.
We also hope that all Australians, whatever their faith, identity or heritage, can work together with the global community in helping those in need, protecting the persecuted and finding sustainable solutions to achieving long-lasting peace in the region.
About the Australian Intercultural Society (AIS)
The Australian Intercultural Society (AIS) is a Melbourne based not for profit working to bring people together from different cultural, religious or other diverse backgrounds through various projects, such as the Annual State Parliament Iftar Dinner, study tours to Turkey and the Luncheon Series.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Executive Officer at the Australian Intercultural Society
Office: 03 9867 2248 (M-Th, 10am-5pm)
The pdf form of this document can be downloaded here.