The inner west of Sydney is arguably the birthplace of multiculturalism in Australia.
It has been enriched by waves of migration from nations such as Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Vietnam, China, Portugal and many more.
The council area has a population of 182,037.
Of those, 34 per cent were born overseas and 28 per cent speak a language other than English at home.
The council area includes the former Leichardt council, of which more than 10 per cent of residents identify as having Italian ancestry.
The decision to endorse the new policy comes following the amalgamation of the three previous local councils, Ashfield, Marrickville and Leichardt.
In a recent press release, mayor Darcy Byrne indicated the risk that threatens the relationship between ethnic communities and their council as a result of the amalgamation.
“This policy is to ensure the voices of people from non-English speaking backgrounds are heard in council’s decision-making spaces,” he said.
Some of the multicultural initiatives contained in the draft policy include:
• Appointing a dedicated multicultural liaison officer to support local organisations
• Ensuring council information is available and easily accessible in community languages
• Creating a Multicultural Advisory Committee and Inter-Faith Reference Group to inform council decision-making
• Exploring ways of delivering the largest Lunar festival in the history of the Inner West to celebrate Chinese and East Asian communities
• Establishing an Inner West Anti-Racism Film Festival with entries to come from local residents, community groups and schools
• Setting up Civic Receptions to celebrate the national days of local ethnic communities including the Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek, Portuguese, and Lebanese communities
The policy also includes the establishment and maintenance of community to community relationships with international cities.
Community to community relationships are beneficial in developing economic, trade, cultural and educational exchanges.
Prior to the amalgamation, the former Leichardt Council had a community relationship with Giovinazzo, Italy.
The draft policy emphasises maintaining that connection.
On Wednesday, September 12, council held a community forum to receive feedback and community response to the policy.
Simon Watts, Social and Cultural Planning Manager for Inner West Council, reports a clear majority support for the draft policy, with the proposed Anti-Racism Film Festival component being an especially popular suggestion.
The Italian community has not been particularly active in providing feedback so far, with most feedback coming from the Indian and Vietnamese communities.
But community engagement is still open, with comments and feedback due to close next Friday, September 21.
Click here to have your say.