As a city for people, Melbourne will be an inclusive community that responds to different voices, needs, priorities and rights. The contributions and potential of Melburnians and visitors is realised and all community members have access to the city's services, facilities, events and activities. In a city for people, individuals with diverse backgrounds, ages and abilities can participate freely and respectful consideration for others is a way of life.
Future Melbourne 2008


People who discussed Melbourne being an inclusive community commonly discussed cultural diversity. People wanted the diverse range of ethnicities in Melbourne included and promoted in city life. It was important to people that the diverse range of people in Melbourne had access to the city, and felt welcome. Inclusiveness priorities extended to many different groups and cultures across different age ranges, abilities, genders, and income levels.

A large number of statements about homeless people reflected the range of opinions on how to approach this urban issue. Many people commented that more support for the homeless was needed in order to get them ‘off the streets’, while others advocated for more facilities to aid their street lives.

There was significant overlap in this Priority and Priority 1.7. Community Facilities, 3.5. An Events City, and participation in arts under Goal 2.

Summary of ideas (total 330 Statements)

Cultural diversity (93 statements)

In nearly a third of statements made about inclusive communities, culture and diversity were important to people when they considered the future of Melbourne. Virtually all of these statements were in support of a society that is more culturally diverse. However, some statements questioned Melbourne’s ability to absorb new migrants, discussed in Priority 1.4. Designed for people.

‘Cultural’ here is taken to refer to people’s ethnic backgrounds. ‘Diversity’ here refers to the variety of people who populate Melbourne and is not necessarily restricted to ethnicity. Several people stated that they wanted various other specific cultures included and represented (LGBT communities, unnamed subcultures, and people of different socio-economic backgrounds, for example). Several singular statements referring to the importance of culture (in one word) could have been referring to artistic culture, which is discussed in Goal 2 A Creative City.

The points made predominantly focused on encouraging, celebrating, enabling, and facilitating Melbourne’s many cultures to be supported and represented, have outlets for expression, to feel welcomed/included and to be engaged in Melbourne life. One specific means to achieve this included an idea that described a world cultural centre to highlight the “art, culture and spirituality of every region”.

People had various reasons for wanting to promote cultural diversity in Melbourne. These ranged from several people who felt that more diversity would create better understanding between cultures and bring communities together, and several people stated that it was important to celebrate ethnic diversity within Melbourne.

We need the (sic) popularise other cultures as well that are increasing within our communities and respect their tradition. This would give other people a better understanding of other cultures and could help reduce the distance between other cultures.

A city that welcomes everyone (of all races and backgrounds).

Homelessness (66 Statements)

Homelessness was discussed by a large number of people. Many of these comments were general in nature, stating that homeless people need to be looked after, or to be given greater attention and support. Similarly, many people stated that housing or shelter was needed. This included requests for research on the cost of housing versus keeping people on the street and the continued funding of the rough-sleeping service initiative.

Homelessness disappointing -- Melbourne has a great threat in the City Centre. I am personally disappointed by the number of homeless people in this developed City. There needs to be more action and support for these people to improve their quality of life

Several people wanted homelessness gone, reduced or managed, and it was commented by some that the homeless were intrusive and unsafe, and reduced the quality of the city.

Provision of amenities and facilities in general, as well as specific identification of places to charge mobile phones, the availability of toilets, showers, barbers’ services, laundries, security and microchipping for dogs were suggested by a few people. Providing food, for example from fruit trees, rooftop gardens and hot food vans were also suggestions from a few people. One detailed idea described a digital app called Ask Izzy that could provide people with appropriate support information. It was suggested that The City of Melbourne could also provide free phone-charging to homeless people.

Provision of a variety of services was also suggested by several people; including: health, education and work; information-finding apps; drug and alcohol support; legal and social services; as well as community involvement programmes. Public awareness and initiatives to support homelessness and create social inclusiveness was identified as a need by a few people. A call for financial help via philanthropy was made by one person and it was stated by another that help is particularly needed for those aged between 25-45 years.

As a contrast to most of the points made, a statement was provided by someone who had experienced homelessness for six months and who expressed uncertainty around greater support for homelessness. They stated that there was already great support — food, 24/hr establishments, undercover areas that are safe, services and people to help with laundry, showers, clothes and help from Centrelink. This is part of the comment, which explains their point of view.

It's a great sentiment to know that people care, but at the same time as someone who experienced 6 months of homelessness living on the very same city streets I'm a bit unsure of this idea….But giving the homeless too much support I have absolutely no doubt hinders their ability for those who are able, to pull themselves out of their situation. Which is more empowering and helpful to them as a person than any amount of support. Now I'm not saying homeless shouldn't get any support by any stretch, it's just that this city already does do a lot through the many organisations out there and I'm not personally sure that it's necessary for the government itself to step up in this regard. That being said, an affordable locker somewhere in the city would have been really appreciated. Carrying my bag around everywhere for 6 months was definitely a literal pain!

Generally addressing inclusiveness in Melbourne (42 Statements)

Several lengthy ideas were submitted which addressed general inclusiveness in Melbourne. People stated that they wanted to see the promotion of inclusiveness though various means, including the arts, recreational opportunities, community events and digital applications.

…connecting the disadvantaged, socially excluded, minority groups, tourists, visitors, residents and workers of Melbourne with information, services, community, events and opportunity through Digital Ambassadors, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Many statements simply identified inclusiveness as a priority for Melbourne, and several others used words like equality or equity, and human rights, to describe their priorities for the people of Melbourne.

A representative Melbourne…the most critical consideration is the people it should be created for. I want to see a Melbourne which represents the needs and causes which make its vibrant heart beat.

Young people (24 Statements)

A large number of statements called for people ‘of all ages’ to be included in city life. The statements specifically focused on young people.

Many people stated that providing young people with ‘somewhere to go’ was important. One person’s idea proposed a 24/7 youth hub, with provision of a multitude of services under one roof. This idea was supported by many in a website conversation. Co-locating services was seen as an efficient way to engage youth in meaningful activities (employment skills, life skills such as cooking, entertainment, and socialising, for example), and to access services and support where needed. Many people also liked this idea in a conversation, with some adding that access to a safe and welcoming place that operated outside of office hours was a big part of its appeal.

If we allow our young people to have a space in the city where they are safe, celebrated, and invested in, I promise you that they will become world thought leaders.

Several people talked about increased investment (time/money/resources) being the key to engaging young people in Melbourne life. Employment, or steps to employment, was a priority for several people. Individual people thought that employment skills could be built though providing young people with opportunities to volunteer, be mentored, show leadership and combine through sport.

Children (23 Statements)

A large number of comments focused on what the city can provide for children and how children should be considered in the design and provision of amenities. Several ideas were generated by a group of children being accompanied through the city, and then having them recount their experiences. General points taken from these ideas were that the city needs to provide environments for children to learn from and engage with. To achieve this, spaces and amenities need to consider children, such as the time they take to board trams, the challenges they face in ordering over high cafe counters, and completing simple tasks such as posting a letter or drinking from a water fountain when the amenities are not designed to accommodate their height.

It was stated that the city has the potential to be a place where children can explore and expand their knowledge, imaginations and confidence. To be able to take these opportunities, children need to be considered in the city’s development, as they are the current and future users. This was one idea.

Through the eyes of children overview -- … Through these conversations as adults we reflect, thinking about how we see the world we are in and how this is not only deciphered by children, but how the environment affords them to engage within it.

Other ideas to assist children to engage with the city were also provided, such as, a playground; a location poll that enables lost children to be tracked, through them wearing a bracelet that sends a digital signal; and, the idea below that encourages embracing children through Kids’ days.

kid days -- Choose specific days in the year's calendar to claim them for children - all public buildings are open and aware of children as their visitors. This doesn't mean lollies at the entrance but an awareness of how children move through the architecture, what piques their interest and how they transform or challenge the access. All this with the aim of expanding people's awareness and acceptance of children as people in the city who have opinions as well as a right to be there.

The need to provide children with safe environments to grow up in was proposed in a few ideas, and comments on those ideas supported the points made. This is one of the ideas.

A Child Safe City -- Every child has the right to be and feel safe - physically, emotionally, culturally, within their home and within their community. Promoting children's safety is everyone's business and as a city we have a responsibility to fully meet the Children's Rights Charter, giving tomorrow's leaders the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Aboriginal culture and heritage (21 Statements)

A large number of people stated that the needs and cultures of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were important to Melbourne. Different ways were suggested to promote and recognise Aboriginal culture within the fabric of the city; all with the overarching intention of acknowledging and respecting Aboriginal ways of life.

There were several concise ideas on how to facilitate Aboriginal inclusion, including: vegetation planting that heralds the changing of the seven Aboriginal seasons; digital city mapping of Aboriginal cultural heritage; a First Nations cultural hub; and, more representation of Aboriginal history in schools, (which is discussed further in Priority 4.3 A learning city). Some people stated that tangible inclusion of Aboriginal culture could come by way of using Aboriginal place names and signage.

Vulnerable or low-income (20 Statements)

Many people saw that caring for Melbourne’s vulnerable or low-income populations was important. Statements generally called for a fairer or more equitable society, with several people stating that addressing wealth distribution was a priority. Some people stated that looking after the needy should be a priority, and that providing more opportunities for low-income people to thrive was a way to achieve this.

…a respect for the workforce with reasonable pay and conditions, and a solid welfare structure that looks after and support those in need.

A couple of statements showed a desire for the city to provide space in which supportive programmes would operate; this included recreational space, and space for community organisations to run meal programmes, for example.

Elderly (15 Statements)

Several people stated that making the city more accessible for older people was a priority for ensuring an inclusive Melbourne. City accessibility meant various things: access to appropriate accommodation (aged care facilities, shared retiree living with flexible working space, and retiree-designated apartments, for example); enabling mobility (free public transport and safer road crossings, for example); and, tools to better enable elderly people to access city life (digital apps, or strategically placed location poles for wayfinding, for example). One person commented that Melbourne could be a leader in ‘cybersenior’ technology, while an opposing view stated that elderly people prefer a lifestyle that is less digitally dependent.

People with a disability (14 Statements)

Many people wanted to facilitate inclusiveness for people with a disability, or impaired people (ie; those with reduced or restricted sight, cognition, movement, or hearing) in the city of Melbourne. For several people this meant improving access to city life. As in the above section (‘Elderly’), accessibility meant various things. For several it meant ease of movement about the city. Suggestions people made to increase ease of movement included tactile maps or paths, a more ‘wheelchair friendly’ city, audio assistance for wayfinding, digital apps, and wider footpaths. (Disability access to transportation (Priority 6.1), housing (Priority 1.4) and city access (Priority 1.4) are all discussed elsewhere in this report).

Disabled people having a greater involvement in making decisions that affect them was seen as important by some, as was a higher degree of interaction between differently abled people.

What if instead of providing alternative, disability-specific programs, services worked to facilitate connections between individuals and community organisations, including by assisting those organisations and civic institutions to become accessible?

Some people identified increased services (a service hub, and education centre, for example) in the city as a priority.

Other (12 Statements)

For many people, inclusiveness extended to specific groups not represented above. Refugees and asylum-seekers were identified by a few people as needing assistance (in education, and in settlement for example). A couple of people wanted to see each of the following groups given a higher priority in inclusive strategies; LGBT, women (in sport), and international/exchange students.