Melbourne’s Multicultural Hub turns 10
Melbourne’s Multicultural Hub continues to cement itself as a focal point for the city’s multicultural communities with more than 100,000 people using the facility in the past year.
Now in its tenth year providing services in the Melbourne CBD, the Hub achieved a 95 per cent client satisfaction rate, according to its 2017 annual report for.
The Hub, managed by migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia owned by the city of Melbourne, aims to engage communities to facilitate and provide education and the development of social cohesion, with 100 per cent of visitors declaring they had met somebody from a different culture during their visit.
Multicultural Hub Manager Maria Tsopanis said 2017 had seen an enhanced emphasis on accessing “the broader community, accessing international students, culturally/linguistically diverse communities, and including support for homeless and seniors”.
“The report shows that we are engaging the broader community,” Ms Tsopanis said.
“Volunteers add so much value to the work we do here at the Hub allowing us to provide a range of free programs,” she said.
The facility hosted 113,253 people of various cultural backgrounds during 2017, up more than 6,000 on the year before.
This number includes at-risk populations such as refugees and indigenous community members as the centre forges a reputation as a safe space for at-risk groups in Melbourne’s multicultural population.
Overall, 79 per cent of visitors surveyed reported feeling free to express their culture and faith, a statistic which improved to 91 per cent when surveying students of the Hub’s own programs.
The majority (54 per cent) of events hosted within the facility were workshops. They varied in nature from Human Rights Training conducted by the University of NSW to Shop and Cook sessions aimed at educating young people about nutrition by guiding them through the entire process of food preparation from shop to dinner plate.
During evenings, the Hub was generally used by small community organisations hosting events such as Chinese Chess Club or Bollywood Dance; while the weekends often saw community gathering by international students or faith-based groups.
While the Hub primarily functions through the allocation of work-spaces to external organisations, in 2017 it also provided 28 free education programs, attracting 288 students from an impressive 46 different nationalities.
Overall, the centre was most frequented Indonesians with 7,927 visitors, followed by 4371 Chinese, and Brazilians and Indians all of whom contributed cultural education experiences to the centre.
This intense diversity among the Hub’s users was showcased during its Community Cultural Fair during March.
The event’s 750 attendees were treated to performances by various cultural groups, as well as interactive food, drink and art experiences and an official welcome from Cr. Philip Le Liu, where he took time to acknowledge the positive impact of migration in Melbourne.
The Hub’s Refugee Week event was similarly lauded, with 150 local students listening on as a guest panel of speakers shared the stories of their journeys to Australia.
While the survey results complimented the staff, accessibility and facilities in an overwhelmingly positive response, the one area highlighted as needing improvement was the booking process, which is currently complicated by evacuation procedures.
An automated system is being investigated as a possible solution to this issue moving forward.
In a general win-win situation, the centre was also partially run by volunteers looking to gain local work experience towards the end of full-time employment, of which 16 achieved their goal.
This model is further supported by community volunteers motivated by their belief in the centre’s aims, playing key roles in the effective and open delivery of its service.
By Tom Danks