Case study - Multicultural Advisory Council
Founded in 1859, Waverley Council established a strong social justice agenda early on, pursuing strategies in response to concerns such as gentrification, loss of affordable housing, access to quality affordable care, support for vulnerable people and a culturally diverse, cohesive community. The Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) requires Council to represent the diverse needs of the local community, address the health and wellbeing needs of community members and foster community cohesion by encouraging active participation in civic life.
Waverley Council established a Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) more than 20 years ago to foster ongoing dialogue, discussion and advocacy in relation to multicultural matters, access and inclusion strategies.
Every two years, Waverley Council calls for applications for the MAC through its newsletter, social media channels, via local networks and by advertising in local media. Applicants are asked to send their resume, outline their interest in joining the MAC and address any selection criteria. Officers make recommendations to Council based on the ability of applicants to meet the criteria and other committee requirements.
The MAC’s quarterly meetings are chaired by the Mayor or the Mayor’s delegate. Waverley Councillors and the Executive Leadership Team are welcome to attend. Relevant Council staff are invited to share information and advice on topics of interest. MAC members use this forum to raise concerns, share ideas, provide feedback and build connections around Council services and community networks. Opportunities also exist for the MAC to contribute to Council’s wider initiatives.
Everyone enjoys coming together face-to-face but more recently the MAC meetings have had to shift online. The Terms of Reference provide a formal governance structure, including notifications, agenda, minimum attendance requirements, recommendations by consensus and minutes which are publicly available following a report to Council.
In the years of 2020 and 2021 years, the MAC was closely involved in the development of Waverley Council’s Cultural Diversity Strategy. This is an important document that outlines Council’s strong commitment to building an inclusive, cohesive and resilient community for people of all cultural backgrounds. The strategy was developed by Council in collaboration with local stakeholders and partners, and was informed by input from the wider Waverley community and industry experts.
The below quotes have been provided by members of the MAC and reflect some of the strengths of the MAC as well as certain areas where the work of the MAC could be strengthened:
I'm proud to belong to the MAC of Waverley Council where I have learnt so many things.
I would like to see MAC consulted on relevant issues even if it means convening ad hoc or short notice meetings.
I feel a profound and sincere sense of gratitude for all the lovely people that I met in MAC.
I would like to see more grassroots partnerships and involvement with local businesses.
The MAC helped me a lot to let me understand the importance of being an active part of a community.
It's taking a long time to implement MAC recommendations, longer than necessary.
It has been pleasing to see MAC membership grow with a broader range of voices in the group.
More information is available at https://www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/.