The City of Greater Bendigo is growing both in population and ethnic, religious and cultural diversity.
Over the next 15 years the annual growth rate of the regional city is estimated to match Greater Melbourne and outpace the rest of Victoria.
Major factors contributing to the growth in Bendigo are:
- young families and a birth rate which exceeds state and national levels; and,
- migration, with communities such as the Karen, Vietnamese, South Sudanese, and Chinese adding to the cultural richness.
In September 2019, Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS) launched ‘community conversations’ and other initiatives under the banner of Our home, Our future. LCMS partnered with local communities, libraries, migrant and refugee groups, peak bodies and community organisations to celebrate and consider what it means to build inclusive and welcoming spaces, through personal connection and storytelling, in the Bendigo region.
Conversations highlighted the need for a multicultural community hub – a place where people could come together to share culture and connect. It was proposed that a multicultural hub would:
- support the resettlement of migrants and refugees
- increase opportunities to share culture and connect inter-culturally
- build solidarity amongst local residents
- highlight how welcoming migrants and refugees builds stronger and more resilient communities
In mid-2020, LCMS invited Welcoming Australia to facilitate a study into the need for, and feasibility of, a multicultural hub in Bendigo and provide recommendations for next steps. The study is guided by an Advisory Committee, coordinated by Welcoming Australia, which includes representatives from:
- Bendigo Community Health Service
- Bendigo Kangan Institute
- Bendigo Senior Secondary College
- City of Greater Bendigo
- Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV)
- Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS)
- MAV (Multicultural Arts Victioria)
To inform the study, and understand the needs and aspirations of the community, a survey has been developed and launched in 8 languages. People from across Bendigo are invited to complete the survey, contributing their views and ideas.