14 October 2016

The Manningham community has been recognised for its work in helping migrants and refugees to feel more welcome, having won a 2016 Victorian Local Government Multicultural Award for Excellence.

Proudly presented by the Victorian Multicultural Commission, the award was received at a ceremony hosted by the Governor of Victoria at Government House on Thursday 13 October 2016.

The award recognises major initiatives by local government and community partners that promotes and strengthens multiculturalism, and enhances the participation and engagement of culturally and linguistically diverse communities in civic and community life.

Manningham has a wonderfully diverse multicultural population with residents from 140 countries and almost 40 per cent speak a language other than English at home.

To acknowledge this diversity, Council publically declared Manningham a Migrant and Refugee Welcome Zone in June 2015. This represents a commitment in spirit to welcome migrants and refugees, to uphold their human rights, demonstrate compassion, and enhance the cultural and religious diversity of our community.

In partnership with community organisations, the hugely successful ‘Welcome Tree’ initiative to help people from all cultural and faith groups to feel welcome, and to encourage people to be welcoming of others.

Four Migrant and Refugee Welcome Trees were designed and constructed by adult migrant English students from Swinburne University and spent over a year travelling between local schools, libraries, clubs, community groups, faith centres and events and venues all over Manningham.

Along the way, an incredible 10,000 welcome leaves for the Trees were enthusiastically created and shared by the community, each with personal messages of welcome written and drawn on them – a forest of welcomes!

Winning the award will help spread this message of welcome even further.  A live Welcome Tree has been planted outside the front entrance of the Manningham Civic Centre, a special song titled ‘Welcome Home Mate’ composed of the words of welcome messages was recorded, and collections of the welcome leaf messages are on display in the Civic Centre meeting rooms and foyer.

Manningham Chief Executive Officer, Warwick Winn said, “To strengthen this diversity and enhance community wellbeing, Council and key community partners identified a need to ensure people from all cultural and faith groups feel welcome in Manningham, and are welcoming of others.”

“The messages of welcome written on the leaves of our Welcome Trees are inspiring.  Each one welcomes people to Australia and to our community, expressing messages of friendship, hope, support and safety.”

“I invite you to read some of the thousands of welcome messages that we’ve collected so far.”

“Our Councillors, staff, Access and Equity Advisory Committee members and project partners – the Communities Council of Ethnic Issues, Swinburne University and AMES Box Hill – are thrilled about this award as it recognises the positive change and greater understanding and acceptance that can be achieved in our community by working together,” he said.

www.manningham.vic.gov.au/migrant-and-refugee-welcome-zone

Certified by Chief Executive, Warwick Winn, in accordance with Section 55D of the Local Government Act 1989

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