Social inclusion



C.A.P.S: A Carers Initiative

A group of carers came together in the City of Casey to create a support group with a difference. The group, known as C.A.P.S. sought to connect people caring for others with any kind of disability, regardless of level or type.

C.A.P.S. developed a website with email, a Facebook page and a secure online social network called ‘Carers Online’ to connect members.

The small committee also worked in partnership with a number of organisations to develop appropriate levels of governance, and set up a structure able support a variety of communication methods.

C.A.P.S. drew on the broad ranging experience of individual members to select appropriate spaces for their online and face-to-face meetings. This included a number of specialised online spaces for young mums who are carers, and a virtual men’s shed.

The group also prepared promotional materials and arranged a series of face-to-face morning coffee meetings at various locations across the municipality to encourage families to interact with people who live close to them.

C.A.P.S. identified a range of benefits that this program delivered for carers including:

  • emotional and physical support
  • reduced levels of isolation
  • a combined voice for carers in the southern metropolitan region of Melbourne
  • the development of a central location for information to be posted.

A range of organisations subsequently showed interest in being promoted online.

Using online membership as a marketing opportunity further enhances engagement with the private sector in the longer term.

Culturally diverse populations: Building Harmony in the Cardinia Growth Corridor

In 2009 Windemere Child and Family Services submitted a project proposal to the Melbourne Community Foundation for the Building Harmony in the Cardinia Growth Corridor project.

The successful application saw Cardinia Shire Council and Monash University form a partnership and a steering committee consisting of five schools: Berwick Grammar School, Maranatha Christian College, Minaret College, Officer Primary School and St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School.

The overall aim of the Building Harmony in the Cardinia Growth Corridor project was to conduct research and implement programs to improve cultural and religious harmony in the emerging growth corridor of Officer in Melbourne’s south east.

Historically, the Shire of Cardinia had a small culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) population. However, projections based on migration trends and the experience of the neighbouring cities of Casey and Greater Dandenong identified an anticipated growth in CALD population groups. These projections were further supported by the arrival of various multi-faith schools in the areas which attracted an increasingly diverse local community.

The Building Harmony in the Cardinia Growth Corridor project sought to build the capacity of young people from diverse backgrounds, and that of their families’ in the emerging community of Officer. Through enhancing social connectedness and cultural awareness the project aimed to build a community that could live harmoniously, and mitigate race-based crimes in growth corridors through preventative interventions.

The overall project objectives were to develop:

  • knowledge about cultural diversity
  • a diverse outlook in which students learn that knowledge is a social construction which is intrinsically linked to culture and experience
  • knowledge about social equality, racism, gender and discrimination
  • skills and values to preserve cultural diversity
  • a broad social competence around respect and empathy
  • a governance model where participating schools continue to collaborate on identified project objectives.

Project evaluations demonstrated positive changes. Schools were able to list specific changes in policies and programs that had occurred as a result of their involvement in the project and felt that students showed increased respect towards children from other cultures. Student surveys carried out before and after the project reinforced this perception with an increased number of students who agreed or strongly agreed that they were aware of and could learn from other religions and cultures.

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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.

Evaluation of an Intergenerational Playgroup in a Residential Aged Care Facility – National Ageing Research Institute April 2012

In 2012, the National Ageing Research Institute undertook an evaluation of an intergenerational playgroup in a residential aged care facility near Geelong. The project received funding from the Victorian Government Aged Care Branch’s Count Us In! social inclusion initiative.

The project sought to establish and evaluate a playgroup in an aged care facility that promoted greater intergenerational understanding and facilitated meaningful individualised social inclusion for people living in residential aged care and for members of the playgroup.


The project was undertaken at Percy Baxter Lodges in the regional centre of Geelong.

The evaluation included extensive information gathering including a literature review, resident, parent and staff surveys and consultation with residents, playgroup facilitator and lifestyle officer.

The findings of the evaluation were used to provide recommendations both to the groups involved in the playgroups at Percy Baxter Lodges and for any bodies interested in establishing a playgroups in an aged care facility,

A resource booklet, Playgroups in Aged Care Facilities was also published from the project findings, which outlined any lessons learnt about the practicalities and implementation issues related to establishing a similar program.


The project was found to deliver social and community benefits to residents, families and the facility as a whole. All residents were keen to see the playgroup continue into the future.

Overall, playgroups participants benefitted through:

  • increased enjoyment and intergenerational interactions
  • reflection and reminiscence of childhood and parenting
  • changes in attitudes/expectations and perceptions of different generations and aged care facilities.

The project was roundly supported by staff, residents and parents:

“The intergenerational program has moved the whole facility and they all look forward to the children coming. A breath of fresh young air.” – staff comment

“It’s the nicest thing that could happen, thank you to whoever had the brainwave, hope it will keep going.” – resident comment

“We have been so lucky to have been involved with Percy House and the residents. We have met so many new friends. Every week has been wonderful and fun. It would be wonderful to keep it going.” – parent comment


At the conclusion of the study, the evaluation recommended that the playgroup at Percy Baxter Lodges be continued with formalised systems to ensure effective communication and training. The evaluation also suggested further investigation of the transition from supported to community playgroup.

For organisations interested in running a playgroup in an aged care facility, the evaluation recommended:

  • Consideration of establishing a resident playgroup committee
  • Ensuring the provision of appropriate enclosed space with an outdoors area and storage available nearby
  • Commencing with a facilitator-led playgroup model to ensure effective communication about all aspects of the group particularly related to safety.
  • That participants should be allowed to direct interactions and that change should be expected over time
  • Appropriate training is made available for all staff involved in the playgroup including modules in aged care and early childhood development.

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