Supporting local councils and their communities in the advancement of Australia as a welcoming, prosperous and cohesive nation.


What is Welcoming Cities

Welcoming Cities is a national network of cities, shires, towns and municipalities who are committed to an Australia where everyone can belong and participate in social, cultural, economic and civic life.

Welcoming Cities is a Founding Partner of Welcoming International – a growing network of more than 200 municipalities across the world.

Welcoming Cities is an initiative of Welcoming Australia, supported by the Scanlon Foundation.

Overview Brochure [3.5mb]

Diversity is Our Reality

Australia is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse nations in the world. Australia’s First Peoples represent more than 250 language groups and the oldest living and continuous culture. More than one-quarter of Australians are born overseas and almost half of all Australians have at least one parent born overseas.

Collectively, we speak more than 200 languages, and languages other than English are spoken by more than one-fifth of the population.

Amid this diversity we enjoy relative harmony. Our standards of living and levels of social cohesion rank among the highest in the world. However, the benefits of migration, cultural diversity and social cohesion are not being enjoyed by all.

Our Challenge and Opportunity

Australia is a nation of disparate narratives. Our population and economic distribution is polarised, with communities experiencing either:

  • Rapid growth and trying to advance social cohesion and economic participation; or,
  • Stagnation and decline and the challenge of attracting and retaining newcomers.

The continued success of multicultural Australia will depend on our ability to embrace diversity, foster social cohesion and build economic success in the face of complex population challenges.

Inclusion is a Choice

The social, cultural, economic and civic challenge lies in how communities embrace diversity and harness its strengths. Of all tiers of government, local government are best placed to understand the complexity and diversity of their communities and facilitate a whole-of-community approach.

Welcoming Cities exists to support local councils and their communities in the advancement of Australia as a welcoming, prosperous and cohesive nation.

How We Help

Welcoming Cities recognises that, of all tiers of government, local councils are best placed to understand the complexity and diversity of their communities. However, they often engage in this work with limited resources and support. Members of Welcoming Cities have unprecedented access to a community of like-minded Local Governments and community stakeholders through:

Knowledge Sharing

Supporting local governments to access evidence-based research, resources, policies and case studies.

Partnership Development

Facilitating & resourcing multi-sector partnerships to maximise learning, reach and impact.

Celebrating Success

Recognising local governments that demonstrate leading practice and innovation in welcoming efforts.

Standard + Accreditation

Setting the National Standard for cultural diversity and inclusion policy and practice in Local Government.

Membership Benefits

Membership of the Welcoming Cities network is a measurable step towards becoming a thriving community. All that’s required to join is a signature and commitment from the Council’s Mayor or CEO.

Welcoming Cities members can access a knowledge sharing platform, webinars and the advice and support of their peers. This includes member Councils who have progressed further through the Standard.

As Councils progress through the stages of Welcoming, further benefits and opportunities are made available, including eligibility for awards and inclusion in leadership groups, advisory committees and events.

Throughout, Welcoming Cities provides promotional and communications support to help its members tell their story of success and demonstrate their commitment to their communities.

Economic Benefits

“Welcoming is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

Over the next 35 years, migration will drive economic and skills growth in Australia. Migrants will contribute $1,625 billion (1.6 trillion dollars) to Australia’s GDP, and 10 per cent more to the economy than existing residents. Migration will also lead to a 60 per cent increase in people with a university education.

Migration will increase:

GDP Per Capita Growth
Workforce Participation Rate
After Tax Real Wages For Low Skilled Workers
University Education

Social Benefits

Welcoming is the means by which local councils, businesses and communities can embrace and integrate migrant communities for greater social cohesion.

Welcoming and inclusion is a process by which all people can develop a sense of belonging; and, when people feel welcome they will actively participate in, and contribute to, community life.

Becoming a Welcoming City

The Welcoming Cities initiative supports local councils to consider, commit to, communicate, plan for, build and sustain a welcoming community. The steps to becoming accredited as a Welcoming City are as follows.

  • Consider Welcome

    • A local council explores the possibility of participating in the Welcoming Cities network and briefs the Executive and Councillors on key considerations and opportunities.

  • Commit to Welcome

    • A local council commits to participating in the broader Welcoming Cities network, and develops and socialises strategies that create opportunities for all members of their community to participate in and contribute to social, economic and civic life.

  • Communicate Welcome

    • Messages of unity, shared values and belonging permeate the community through the voices of leaders, the media and among residents.
    • Diverse voices are valued, listened to, communicated and celebrated.

  • Plan for Welcome

    • A local council facilitates a multi-sector approach, working to create a welcoming community that values social, economic and civic participation for all people.
    • A local council establishes policies and practices that embed welcoming and inclusion across all policy areas.
    • A local council develops strategies that focus on both new & emerging communities and receiving communities.

  • Build Welcome

    • A local council considers and benchmarks their policies and practices against The Welcoming Cities Standard.
    • Newcomers and established residents increasingly find common ground and leadership is representative of the diversity of the community.

  • Sustain Welcome

    • A local council is audited against The Welcoming Cities Standard and accredited as a Welcoming City.
    • Social cohesion and socioeconomic indicators improve over time.

A local council can become a member of the Welcoming Cities network. A community stakeholder (peak body, community organisation, business, other agency) can become a supporter of the network. Both members and supporters join the Welcoming Cities network by completing a one-page commitment formand can access the key elements of the network.