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Intercultural harmony and understanding in the city of Whittlesea
conference contributionposted on 2011-01-01, 00:00 authored by Fethi MansouriFethi Mansouri, Michele Lobo
The City of Whittlesea is one of the most ethnically diverse urban areas in Melbourne that attracts settlers, often humanitarian migrants from countries in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. With settlers arriving from a broader range of countries than ever before, increasing ethnic as well as ethno-religious diversity presents opportunities for local government to address intercultural harmony and understanding but also significant challenges. This paper reports the findings of fieldwork conducted in 2009 among residents focusing on attitudes towards ethnic diversity and evaluations of the capacity of local government to promote intercultural harmony and understanding. The results suggest that if local government is to be inclusive and gain the confidence and trust of residents necessary to foster empowering partnerships, political spaces that facilitate interactions between long-term residents, new residents, elected leaders and council officers must be facilitated. Such initiatives will contribute to strengthening programs and policies being developed by local government that aim to address discrimination experienced by ethnic minorities and encourage greater acceptance of cultural diversity among the broader community in ways that move beyond measurable outcomes.