Localities Embracing and Accepting Diversity (LEAD)

Aimed at reducing race-based discrimination and improving understanding and acceptance cultural diversity the City of Whittlesea, with funding from VicHealth undertook a four-year pilot project called Localities Embracing and Accepting Diversity (LEAD).

The project was based on VicHealth's Building on our strengths: A framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria.

LEAD focused on building positive attitudes and behaviours towards diversity in the wider community and supporting local organisations, such as retailers, workplaces, schools and Council, to create fairer, more welcoming and inclusive environments for all.

LEAD was developed in response to VicHealth research which showed that despite widespread support for diversity in Victoria, people from Aboriginal, migrant and refugee backgrounds were continuing to experience high rates of race-based discrimination in everyday life.

The City of Whittlesea was selected for the program based on its strong track record in working to support diversity and its previously demonstrated ability to trial new and innovative approaches to complex social problems.

The project focused on addressing discrimination against people from Aboriginal, African, Asian, Indian and Muslim backgrounds, as research indicated that these groups were most at risk of discrimination.

LEAD project partners included a major local employer, a local retailer, three local government schools and a local newspaper. The project also included involvement from council itself in addition to an extensive consultation program that engaged key community groups affected by race-based discrimination.

The project incorporated the following strategies:

  • Project partner organisations were supported to undertake an assessment of their own policies, practices and procedures. For example, council applied the University of Melbourne's Racial Diversity Workplace Audit Tool and developed an action plan to address gaps
  • Teachers, council staff and executives and partner retailer staff were provided with equal opportunity and LEAD anti-discrimination training
  • Opportunities were created for people from different cultural backgrounds to come together to foster friendships and inter-cultural understanding. For example, LEAD partner business Costa Exchange – Mushroom Category organised 'Celebrating Diversity' team lunches and dinners
  • A social marketing campaign was implemented. The See Beyond Race campaign involved mainstream advertising, supporting communications and a media partnership with the Whittlesea Leader local paper. It aimed to break down stereotypes and support positive attitude and behaviour change in the wider community.

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