Feeling safe and welcome
I moved to Wollongong a few years ago with my young family. My husband and I are from two different overseas countries, and we didn't know anyone in Wollongong.
Even though I am not a refugee, when I was looking around at local groups, projects and organisations, I fell in love with Green Connect and have been involved with them ever since. The work they do socially and environmentally is something Wollongong should be very proud of. When I visit the Green Connect farm, I feel safe and welcome. There are so many people from different countries and cultures, and everyone is valued. Then I found SCARF and felt the same way. Refugee Week celebrations are done so well in Wollongong and so is the Australia Day award ceremony that Wollongong City Council does. It truly does celebrate difference - particularly cultural difference. Everywhere I look there seem to be ways that Wollongong is celebrating people who have come from overseas.
I think that Wollongong's celebration of Aboriginal people is also growing and I would like to see more of this - empowering, thanking and celebrating first nations people.
There is a way to go for the celebration of LGBTQI people and a lot more could be done there. The rainbow crossing was a nice gesture, but there can and should be more done to create safe spaces for everyone. Even basic things like having non-gender-specific toilets available would be a step in the right direction.
Overall I think Wollongong City Council is on the right track (particularly when there is so much community consultation done on various plans and policies, and the Council really seems to listen to the feedback they get) and I look forward to seeing more diversity and inclusion initiatives rolled out over the coming years.
Consultation has concluded