What kind of community do you want to live in? 

What kind of community will you lead?

DiverCities Network of Australasia

Diversity. It's in our DNA



In 2018, Australia became home to 248,000 migrants who became permanent residents. Each person regardless of age, gender, nationality, religion, language or ethnicity needs the opportunity to feel part of their new community.

Wherever they live, the only way positive settlement experiences will happen for them and society, is to develop networks within their new communities - with people from different cultural backgrounds - Australian-born Anglo-Saxon people, Indigenous Australians, and other migrants. This is intercultural settlement.

Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea and Asian countries all have different migration and national policy contexts. Multicultural, bicultural and assimilation are policies which shape and influence the ways our local communities live on a daily basis.

There are positives and negatives to all policies but what if there was a different way? One in which all people felt included? One in which all people are encouraged to get to know each other; to share experiences; to share ideas and create new products and services; to become friends with people outside their usual networks? 

What if relationships were facilitated at the local government level to reduce fear of each other, promote economic development, create friendships, meaningful interaction and improve harmony and social cohesion?

What if communities lived interculturally?

Interculturalism means that at every opportunity, the intentional bringing together of people from diverse cultural, language and faith backgrounds which result in meaningful interactions that help people to:


 © Lynda Ford 2017. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced in whole or part without appropriate reference. 



Interculturalism sees nothing wrong with multiculturalism. It may be that the outcome you want for your community is to have people from lots of different cultural, faith and language backgrounds.

We argue, however, that multiculturalism will not be the policy platform that withstands, into the future, the pressures of a complex society such as Australia. 

Multiculturalism was well equipped to deal with defined diversity in the 1960-1990’s but the super-diversity of Australia now makes our society complex on so many levels. 

People are not only defined by their ethnicity, culture, language, or religion as governments and policy makers wish to define them. People are multidimensional and influenced by the way in which their age, gender, disability and class intersect with their ethnicity, culture, language and faith.

Nowadays people can be Greek-Australian Buddhists or Indigenous Australian Muslims. They can be Rwandan-Australian sports people; Croatian-Australian parents; Canadian-Australian teachers. People's identities are not one dimensional and we believe Australia's local, state and federal government policies and practices should reflect this.

Under a multicultural framework, relationships between people of different cultural backgrounds can be a bit hit and miss unless someone is specifically facilitating intercultural relationships.

There are also a few problems with multiculturalism. 

Multiculturalism is not generally seen by Australian-born Anglo-Saxons as being about them – it’s often identified as being about the ‘other,' based on the 'other's' ethnicity.’

Indigenous people are the first Peoples of Australia and do not consider that they are part of a multicultural policy.

This means that each time a state or local government creates a Multicultural Strategy or Plan, it knowingly leaves out two important sections of the community - Australian-born Anglo-Saxon and Indigenous people which may increase division, fragmentation and disharmony into the future.

Many countries in the region don't have migrant policies of multiculturalism and yet are experiencing increasing levels of cultural diversity. The question often for those countries is how to manage changes to their existing culture and population. As interculturalism ensures a place for everyone, it is a promise of a way forward, together.

 © Lynda Ford 2017. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced in whole or part without appropriate reference. 

Upcoming events

We are delighted to be partnering with Swinburne University and the cities of Ballarat, Melton and Maribyrnong to hold a series of events which answer questions and showcase good practice in interculturalism in Australia and internationally.

You are welcome to attend one or all of these events. See you in July!

Please click here to attend the Swinburne University events. 

To attend Ballarat City Council Intercultural Conversations on 30 July at 1.00pm at Ballarat Town Hall, please register here.

To attend the Melton City Council Symposium on 31 July from 9.30am at WestWaters Hotel, Caroline Springs, please register here.

To attend the Maribyrnong City Council Footscray Winter Feast on 1 August from 2.30 pm at various locations, please register here.

The Council of Europe's Intercultural Cities Programme has, as its members: 

- 121 cities and towns including Paris, Copenhagen, Reyjkavik, Barcelona, Lisbon, Mexico City, Hamamatsu, Montreal, Berlin-Neukölln, Ballarat, Melton, Maribyrnong (Victoria), Logan (Queensland) and Salisbury (South Australia).

- across 34 countries - Australia, England, Belgium, Germany, Iceland, France, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, France, Denmark, Spain, Mexico, Japan, Faroe Islands, Japan, Croatia, Serbia, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Greece, Canada, Cyprus, Malta, Netherlands, Turkey, Wales, Russian Federation, Romania, Mexico, Israel, Jordan.

Plus, 5 country/region networks:

- 15 cities in Morocco  

- 6 cities in Ukraine 

- 12 cities in Quebec, Canada 

- 17 cities in Spain 

- 10 cities in Australasia = 60 additional cities and towns

Small communities, towns and cities are members - not just capital cities.

For further information please go to the Intercultural Cities website.

Australasian cities have a great deal of knowledge and networks to share with all of these places and a great deal to learn about how interculturalism is being practiced internationally.















  • Local Australian networks are very important but diversity is what drives innovation. More than 120 different social, political and economic contexts, new thinking and new people to draw from will ensure your City is able to take full advantage of its cultural diversity.
  • The Network will provide information to you and others in your city - economic development, community mediation, youth work, libraries, sport, parks and leisure, urban and social planning are just a few of the Council departments involved with the Network.
  • You, other Council staff and your elected members can be matched to people in similar roles in the Australian and international Networks. That ensures you always have fresh ideas and people to talk to.
  • The Network will help your Mayor and Councillors to make good, evidence-based decisions that support the management of new and existing cultural diversity in your municipality.
  • They know what they're talking about! The Intercultural Cities Programme in the Council of Europe has been running for more than 10 years and has a wealth of research and practical experience about what works. 
  • You'll get access to the experience of more 121+ cities with different political, cultural, faith and language structures. It's not the same cultural and political experience 121+ times over!
  • You'll can access the experience of other cities in Australia and overseas about: how to settle migrants well into your community; how to promote positive media and community images of migration to your community; how to increase your community's economic development through migrant business ownership; how to reduce racism and discrimination in your community and how to integrate migrants into the fabric of your community amongst many other topics.
  • You can attend or access the information from 'Thematic Group' meetings. For information about the calendar for 2018, please see here.



At no cost, you can benchmark your city's cultural diversity policies and activities with cities in Europe and Australia. Benchmarking will help you develop your strategy and identify and explain to decision-makers where financial and people resources could best be allocated across your Council.

Evaluations of the Intercultural Cities Programme prove that cities that have joined the network experience improvement of social cohesion, in particular with regard to better neighbourhood relationships, improved openness and 'tolerance' among the city population towards migrants and/or minorities, a decreased intensity of intercultural conflicts, improved urban safety and a greater public image of diversity.

With these results, why would you NOT want your Council to join?

DiverCities Network coordinators in Australia have more than 15 years experience in the Australasian region and internationally in working interculturally and can assist you to train staff and develop programs and policies to meet this new challenge.

In addition, you can access all the Intercultural Cities Experts

On Wednesday 16th - Friday 18th August 2018, DiverCities Network of Australasia an initiative of iGen Foundation to further the practice of interculturalism in Australia, held a series of events in Ballarat, Australia's first City endorsed by the Council of Europe's Intercultural Cities Programme. Field visits were also held in Maribyrnong and Melton City Councils. 

Sponsored by City of Ballarat, participants from around Australia:

  • participated in field visits to outstanding intercultural programs in the greater Melbourne area;
  • attended the launch of City of Melton's Intercultural Strategy;
  • attended the first DiverCities Network Australasia meeting
  • learned more about interculturalism, 
  • listened to Intercultural City Experts, Prof Bruno Ciancio (Italy) and Lynda Ford (Australia) discussing intercultural initiatives around the world; 
  • discussed social innovation in refugee settlement, intercultural practice and social inclusion; and
  • designed intercultural programs to take back to their Councils.


Daniel de Torres, Expert with the Intercultural Cities Programme at the Council of Europe and founder of Anti-Rumours Global, talks about why it's important for communities experiencing social disharmony to implement an anti-rumours strategy. Click here for more info about creating an anti-rumour strategy for your community or ring us on 0414 440 483.

How culturally diverse is your Australian suburb? 

Have a look at this brilliant SBS resource.

You may be surprised!


The Anti-Rumours Handbook has just been released! Check out how your community can take advantage of this project to reduce racism and stereotyping in your community.

The Australian Intercultural Standards provides a framework to Australian local governments about working interculturally in local communities.

The Australian Intercultural Index is the tool used to independently benchmark Australian Councils against more than 120 Councils around the world.

Benchmarking is free to Councils joining DiverCities Network Australasia and the Intercultural Cities Programme with the Council of Europe. 

Membership of both networks is free.

We've been running an informal of cities and practitioners for years but in 2017 iGen Foundation, an Australian not-for-profit organisation, recognised the need for a formal network of professionals and academics to assist Australasian cities to become more intercultural in their approach to manage increasing cultural diversity in their communities. Membership of the network is free to all cities and does not require you to be a member of the Council of Europe's Intercultural Cities Network or buy consulting packages or pay any fees as other organisations require.

As an Australasian city, you'll have access to highly experienced and internationally recognised intercultural practitioners and leading academics. All of your Council's elected members and staff can find support and information from staff and elected members of other cities throughout the Council of Europe's Intercultural Cities Programme and we will be scheduling webinars, forums and other events annually at no charge to DiverCities Network of Australasia members.

Joining the Divercities Network Australasia is your gateway to the Intercultural Cities Programme with the Council of Europe.

DiverCities Network Australasia is your one stop shop for supporting social cohesion in your increasingly multicultural Council area!


Lynda Ford

Lynda has been a community worker for more than 25 years and is privileged to have lived and worked in some of Australia’s most multicultural local government areas in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. 

These experiences have ignited her passion for imagining a different future for relationships between people from established and emerging diverse cultural, language and faith backgrounds and government and other social institutions. 

She believes the opportunity exists for host communities to take responsibility for the inclusion of migrants and refugees into communities and works to create a greater understanding of each other so we can reduce ‘us’ and ‘them’ to a respectful ‘all of us’.

Lynda holds a Master of Arts in Criminology, a Bachelor of Social Science and numerous management qualifications and is the Australian chapter co-lead for Techfugees.  

She is one of 16 Intercultural City Programme Experts appointed by the Council of Europe, and the only Expert located outside Europe. 

Glenda is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Deputy Chair Department of Social Science at Swinburne University, where she teaches and researches in the areas of migration and cultural diversity. Before moving into academia, she worked as a publisher and editor, and was active in the women's movement and local initiatives to foster intercultural dialogue and active citizenship. 

Glenda’s research is focused on interculturalism and multiculturalism; new media, ageing and migration; and the role of traditions in the contemporary world. Her current projects include the spread of interculturalism in Australia, new media usage among older immigrants in Melbourne, and the transformation of Turkish Alevi traditions in Australia. She is also supervising PhDs on continuities and transformations in Indigenous Australian traditions, and the fate of food traditions in contemporary societies. 

Glenda’s latest research project is Zooming In: multiculturalism through the lens of the next generation. Based on a collaboration between Swinburne University and the Victorian Multicultural Commission in which student filmmakers are producing films on Islamaphobia, refugee experiences and migrant stories, the study is exploring creative approaches to cultural diversity and social cohesion in the contemporary era.

Dr Glenda Ballantyne

DiverCities Network Australasia is a growing network of intercultural practitioners, academics and local governments in the Australasian region. 

We'll update who's who in the network on a regular basis.


Mehak is a Psychology Honours student-researcher graduate, with an interest in the role of education in acculturation and the director of U-Learn, an intercultural, emerging facilitators network and bureau. 

As an advocate for all things intercultural, she has continuously pursued speaking engagements, community development projects and not-for-profit, as well as local government positions. 

Mehak comes from a diverse cultural background and has lived experiences from different parts of the world. Some of her other interests include unconventional education, health and well-being, empowerment of minority groups, and tackling Islamophobia.  

As a go-getter, she sits on several committees and is not afraid to voice her opinion on important topics to bring positive change. When not studying, working or volunteering, Mehak enjoys travelling, exploring the outdoors, learning about cultures and spending time with family and cats.

Mehak Sheikh

Your Council here

DiverCities Network of Australasia is proudly funded by iGen Foundation.

Contact: Lynda Ford +61 (0) 414 440 483 or lynda@igenfoundation.com