Localities Embracing and Accepting Diversity (LEAD)

The LEAD program was established as a pilot program through the VicHealth strategy and business plan 2009-2013 where they recognised a priority to reduce race-based discrimination.

Race-based discrimination involves practices and behaviours that result in inequalities between groups where their religion, culture or ethnicity is targeted.  Studies have shown that discrimination can increase the risk of poor mental health especially anxiety and depression and has also been linked to obesity, alcohol and substance abuse. 

Supporting diversity involves respecting and valuing a range of ways of living and being, within democratic and human rights frameworks, governed by the rule of law.

Greater Shepparton City Council commenced the Shepparton LEAD ‘Pilot’ Project in 2009. The project finished in December 2013, with the final report due to be available in March/April 2014.

The LEAD ‘Pilot’ project aims were to:

  • Promote positive attitudes towards cultural diversity and decrease discrimination attitudes and behaviours within whole communities
  • Encourage the implementation of policies and practices that promote diversity and prevent discrimination within local organisations
  • Create more inclusive local environments with diverse local communities
  • Support the capacity of local government and their communities to create harmony
  • Build knowledge and evidence in the primary prevention of discrimination
  • Assess the strengths and limitations of the LEAD model and use learning’s from the program to help shape future policies, programs and practice.

LEAD Partnerships

Greater Shepparton City Council implemented LEAD in partnership with its local community, Vic Health, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Municipal Association of Victoria and the University of Melbourne’s School of Population Health.

Led by Vic Health, the LEAD program was co-funded from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Program evaluation is supported by BeyondBlue.

The focus of LEAD Shepparton

The following ‘Settings’ outline the engagement program that operated under LEAD Shepparton:

Education
To assist schools to develop a school culture that is culturally safe to optimise outcomes for students
Council
Council will be a culturally safe environment for employees and is culturally safe and accessible to all community members
Employment
Develop culturally safe workplaces for all employees, where consideration of the needs and rights of Aboriginal, CALD community members are to be respected
Sport and Recreation
Through sport and recreation settings, which are accessible to the whole community, promote pro diversity and anti-discrimination behaviour
Marketing and Communications
Targeting the wider community through marketing and communications
Arts and Culture
Through public art, engage the wider community to promote pro-diversity and anti-discrimination behaviour.

Achievements

Sport and Recreation setting

  • Shepparton Touch Football Association reviewed their ‘Code of Conduct’ policy. The reviewed policy requires all existing and new members to sign the ‘Code of Conduct’ form before the season starts, as it outlines the expected members’ behaviour which will comply with the policy guidelines to ensure the rights of all individuals are respected either on or off the field. To ensure all team captains understood the ‘Code of Conduct’ policy, two compulsory information sessions were held to inform team captains to ensure they could relay the information to their team members.  
  • A ‘Welcoming Day’ was held by both Shepparton Cycling Club and Shepparton Touch Football Association. These days were to attract new members to the clubs and show that both sporting groups were welcoming to new members from all multicultural backgrounds. Both clubs had an information stall which involved key representatives on the day to welcome those who attended. 

Council setting

  • Appointment of ‘Diversity Issues Officer’. This position resides within Council’s People Performance department.
  • As part of the LEAD Project, Council conducted LEAD surveys with its staff on how they see Council supporting and embracing cultural diversity as an employer. The aim of LEAD has been to strengthen Council’s approach to being fair, welcoming and inclusive for all. The post survey results are currently with the University of Melbourne and are being evaluated.
  • Council staff and Councillors received LEAD training.
  • Staff and Councillors under took Cultural Awareness training.
  • 300 local CALD and Aboriginal representatives within their communities were surveyed regarding racism experiences.
  • Councils ‘Matching Grants’ funding criteria was reviewed to include pro diversity practices.
  • In line with LEAD aims, Council reviewed and updated its staff recruitment policies and practices.

Marketing and Communications

  • Delivery of the ‘See Beyond Race’ media campaign.
  • Introduction of a quarterly LEAD newsletter to stakeholders.
  • Council’s Webpage updated to include CALD and Aboriginal upcoming events.
  • Supported Australian Human Rights Commission national campaign on ‘Racism, It Stops with Me’.

Employment

  • Engaged with two local businesses to review their policies under LEAD aims to address anti-discrimination and support pro diversity.
  • Advocated on behalf of the local Afghan community to seek a local business sponsor to help support the aim of a ‘pilot’ newsletter to help break down barriers regarding discrimination and support pro diversity.

Education

  • Under the LEAD Project, six local schools conducted an audit and reviewed their existing student programs, current policies and internal systems that address issues of cultural, race and social inclusion.
  • Local schools received Pro Diversity LEAD training which was facilitated by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
  • LEAD sponsored a local ‘Respecting Difference’ forum which was attended by more than 40 Ethnic community leaders. This session was facilitated by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and attended by a number of Government departments.