As the region’s population grows and changes, mutual respect, acceptance and appreciation of diversity will become increasingly important elements sustaining social well-being.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data highlights that only 14.6% of the population in the region was born overseas compared to the State average of 23.4%. Of these people in the region, only 8% have come from English speaking countries, compared to an average of 16.8% in Victoria.
As the global population increases, inbound migration to balance both the population age structure and skills shortages in the region will increase diversity.
The region’s population is ageing at a rate 9% higher than the Victorian and Australian average. It is anticipated that the proportion of people aged 65 or older in the region is likely to increase from 21% in 2001 to 38% by 2051. There will be 14,000 less people in the 0 to 44 age group by 2051.
The “sea change” phenomenon has also increased net migration of older age brackets (55 - 64 and 65 -74 years) into coastal areas. Rural areas, north east of the region in particular, are attracting many new residents in these age groups also, predominantly from Melbourne seeking a “tree change”.
Cultural and structural diversity in the population presents significant opportunities for the exchange of skills and knowledge leading to innovation, cultural appreciation, entrepreneurship and socio-economic well-being.
Participation in arts and culture can assist in engaging people in other elements of civic life which is essential to the psychological health of individuals and communities.
The arts contribute greatly to the character of cities and regions and to the ability of communities to establish bonds of social trust and understanding by providing avenues of expression for people of all abilities including young people, ethnic minorities, bohemians, indigenous people and gay people.
Art can act as a powerful advocacy tool on issues such as discrimination, homelessness and violence and can also have very specific benefits leading to higher literacy levels, reduced crime, increased self-esteem, self-confidence and skill development.
Lack of access (transport) and affordability of entry into regional Performing Arts Centres precludes many individuals and families from participating. There is a need to promote local events that are accessible and affordable to low socio economic groups (for example ‘Christmas @ Windsor Park’ (Norlane) and ‘Going Potty’ (Rosewall - Corio)).
Community events are a proven method of promoting health information to socially and geographically isolated populations. Sponsorship of community festivals such as the Pako Festa creates a link to particular ethnic groups, and provides opportunities to promote relevant health messages and healthy activities.
Nurturing a ‘creative class’
The creative class and its ramifications in urban regeneration was expressed in Richard Florida’s bestselling book “The Rise of the Creative Class”, which asserts that regions with high concentrations of high-tech workers, artists, musicians, gay men and “high bohemians”, have a higher level of economic development.
Florida’s theory states that the Creative Class encourages an open, dynamic, personal and professional environment which in turn attracts more creative people, businesses and capital. He suggests that attracting and retaining high-quality talent is a better primary use of a region’s resources for long-term prosperity than infrastructure projects such as shopping centres, sports stadiums and iconic buildings.
The G21 arts, culture and heritage pillar focuses on growing broad community engagement and nurturing the region’s creative capability and reputation. It aims to foster positive and supportive community attitudes, increasing participation by diverse communities.
The developing Geelong Cultural Precinct has the capacity to be a vibrant heart of cultural activity in the G21 region. The masterplan will establish a wide range of possibilities for facility co-location and development including a convention and exhibition centre as well as the upgrading of existing performing arts facilities in this central Geelong location.
The Geelong Cultural Precinct could become the regional centre linking cultural precincts, facilities and artists from around the region. Links could also be formed with Melbourne cultural events and programs, including preseason runs, training, experience and facility sharing.
Additional opportunities for artists to train, rehearse, perform and exhibit should be explored across the region.
Events such as the Falls, Meredith, Apollo Bay and Queenscliff music festivals, the ShootOut short film competition, regional celebrations and food and wine events all help to create an image of a region that is vibrant, creative and diverse, with a great lifestyle appeal for visitors, workers and residents. Efforts should continue to increase the volume and value of such events.
Support should also be given to the establishment of initiatives such as Film Geelong - a one-stop shop for film practitioners to explore the opportunities for film and television production in the G21 region.
Cultural participation plays a major role in connecting divergent groups and in connecting individuals to their community. Arts and cultural activities can play a critical role in connecting people across cultures and affinity groups, helping them to identify commonalities and value differences.
The region’s projected population age structure and anticipated inbound migration will amplify the need for acceptance and appreciation of people of all abilities, cultures, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientation and gender.
An increase in understanding and appreciation of Indigenous arts and culture across the region will be included within the scope of the Geelong Local Indigenous Network community plan.
Settlement patterns for the most vulnerable, particularly new migrants should ensure locations are in close proximity to public transport and health, education and community services, with access to quality open spaces and high standard recreation and integration opportunities.
Opportunities should be explored to develop strong relationships with a broad range of indigenous community members including through indigenous representative arrangements being established across the State.
Collaboration by all levels of government, the private sector and community groups is required to project a unified and resounding message that appreciation of diversity is a fundamental strength of the region.
Initiatives to help the community understand and appreciate the depth of experience, skills, economic growth and culture that a diverse input of people brings to the region should be encouraged and supported.
Working together to increase inbound migration, as well as cultural and the artistic projects, festivals and events will provide opportunities to build community strength through improved capacity to value diversity based on enhanced understanding and mutual respect.
Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria in Future 2004
Florida, R, The Rise of the Creative Class 2004
G21 Geelong Region Plan – Report 2, 2006, pp. 66-68
G21 Region Research Report 2006, pp. 70-77, 24-29
G21 Skills Strategy Task Force Research 2006
Planning for Healthy Communities in the G21 Region 2006-2009
Regional Migration Incentive Fund (RMIF) Research Report 2005
HORIZON 1 (up to 5 years): 3.3.1:
Grow, celebrate and promote the value of diversity by increasing the volume, value and range of creative projects and cultural events delivered in the region. Find projects
Develop a strong cultural environment through increased participation and access to the arts, recreation and other cultural facilities and experiences. Find projects
Increase public and private sector collaboration with artists on creative and cultural projects that deliver mutual benefits. Find projects
Develop the Geelong Cultural Precinct as a focal point linking cultural precincts, facilities and artists from around the region, Melbourne and internationally. Find projects
HORIZON 2 (5 to 20 years): 3.3.5:
Increase migration and the successful integration of new people to the region as a way of supporting diversity and addressing skills shortages. Find projects
Integrate arts and cultural infrastructure and experiences into urban design and character as an essential part of a healthy, desirable, liveable region. Find projects
HORIZON 3 (beyond 20 years): 3.3.7:
Embrace, encourage and promote diversity as a core component of the social, cultural and economic well-being in the region. Find projects
MONITORING OUR PROGRESS - DIVERSITY AND PARTICIPATION IN ARTS:
We will monitor changes in our demographic structure, socio-economic structure and cultural diversity as well value and volume of artistic and cultural events using indexes available from Australian Bureau of Statistics, Diversitat, G21 Arts, Culture and Heritage Pillar and G21 Economic Development Pillar.
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