Welcoming Cities Awards for Change 2023

Sebastian GeersNewsLeave a Comment

The awards, in their second year, have grown in both quantity and quality.

Thank you to all the people and organisation who took the time to apply, you made the judging panel’s life exceedingly difficult!

The Welcoming Cities Awards for Change recognise the progress that strengthens social cohesion with newly arrived and receiving communities to ensure everyone has a chance to participate, belong and thrive. 

The awards celebrate leading practice and innovation in advancing welcoming and inclusive communities.  

There are three categories:

  • Local Government
  • Organisation; and,
  • the overall Welcoming Cities Award

The winner of the Local Government award

City of Melbourne

International students studying in Australia were one of the groups significantly impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic 150,000 international students were based in Victoria, and their lives were exponentially changed by this catastrophic global event.

About half of the Victorian international student cohort returned home during the pandemic, but around 80,000 remained in the state for a range of reasons and were highly vulnerable, facing issues with online study, vaccination, support networks, accommodation, and finances. International students were not eligible for government assistance and were told by the then Prime Minister to make their way home if they were unable to support themselves financially.

City of Melbourne were exceptional leaders in valuing and advocating for international students during this time, and implemented many initiatives to welcome, support and empower international students, including partnering with businesses and organisations across the city to access basics such as food and healthcare, and maintain community, connection and have positive experience of Melbourne during this time.

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The winner of the Organisation award

Your Community Health

Your Community Health is based in the Darebin community in Melbourne’s north and has been supporting this community for over 45 years. In 2022 they delivered a program called ‘Rebuilding Together – Community, Cooking and Connection’ in partnership with Victorian Arabic Social Services to decrease food insecurity and increase meaningful connection amongst Arabic-speaking communities. 

The program was developed in response to a range of factors for this community around food insecurity, social exclusion, and experiences of illness and racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. Community consultation and a needs assessment were undertaken to ensure that the program responded to these issues in a way that worked for this community.

As well as providing food relief this series of workshops and celebrations were created to increase understanding of good nutrition and connect community members with each other, and local health and community services.

It was a highly successful program with solid levels of participation and meeting its’ aims to feed, connect, engage, and educate.

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The final category tonight is the Welcoming Cities Award, it is awarded to:

An individual or organisation that has shown outstanding commitment to creating places where all people can belong, participate and thrive. The successful awardee must: 

  • have gone above and beyond what is required in their job
  • have a demonstrated track record over a period of time
  • Be connected to a Welcoming Cities Member – employee or organisation
  • Demonstrate significant impact
  • Have used their position to support the broader sector to advance leading practice in welcoming and inclusion work.

This year I’m pleased to announce two winners of this award:

Sarah Janali

Sarah Janali is a community development practitioner and consultant based in Perth, Western Australia.

Sarah is skilled at working with different cultures and helping organisations leverage cultural diversity for better outcomes. Sarah has led award winning teams working in this space, with the City of Stirling she oversaw the Kaleidoscope Initiative which provides migrant employment services, and with City of Canning, the Hillview Intercultural Centre, a cultural centre for learning and community inclusion.

Beyond her role within councils Sarah has been instrumental in creating a culture of welcome and inclusion in Perth, WA. This has included setting up several forums to share information and support councils who are newer to this space to be able to learn and improve their practice.  

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Ken Dachi

Ken Dachi is a community development contractor and consultant at Leeton Shire Council in regional NSW where he oversees a host of projects including the Migrant Economic Development, Migrant Settlement Pilot Project, and Community Development.

In this role he has worked tirelessly to make Leeton a regional leader in the welcome and inclusion space. Beyond this he has engaged more widely with communities around Leeton to profile and advocate for settlement and inclusion across the region.

Ken is an active member of the NSW Local Government Multicultural Network and has demonstrated exceptional abilities in engagement with both diverse communities and with receiving local communities.

Read more 

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