Believe in Bendigo
Believe in Bendigo was formed by a group of community, political, business, education and faith leaders in Bendigo. These individuals came together due to frustration that recent events in Bendigo meant the town was not being seen as the welcoming and diverse community that it is.
In 2014, the Bendigo Council approved plans for the city’s first ever mosque. The differing views on the mosque led to a lot of negative media attention. Although there is some local opposition to the mosque, people who are anti-Islamic have come from outside the community, transforming the local issue to a much larger discussion.
Believe in Bendigo is working to counteract the bad publicity the town has received in response to these events. This initiative is an opportunity to celebrate the local community and condemn the hate and violence.
Believe in Bendigo began by 120 businesses and organisations contributing to a paid advertisement in the local papers. This was quickly followed by a very successful community picnic celebrating all that is good about Bendigo.
Encouraging local community members to put up Believe in Bendigo signs and wear or display yellow (the colour of the initiative) gave people an opportunity to become a part of the initiative.
Organisers say that there are more events and activities to come from Believe in Bendigo. So watch this space.
Bendigo has a small but growing international community. In 2011, there were 7 021 overseas born people living in the City of Greater Bendigo. An increase of 1 458 since 2006. Over this same period, the Islamic community grew by 57 per cent to 202 people.
Without the efforts of a group like Believe in Bendigo it is possible that many of the current Islamic community would reconsider living in Bendigo. The community feared the media attention may also impact negatively on people considering moving to Bendigo in the near future.
Feeling connected to the area and local community and having a positive settlement experience is vital for retaining new populations.
The Regional Australia Institute wants to find out how other communities are coming together to support new residents and make them feel welcome. If you know of a great local initiative that we should know about, get in touch and share your #makethemove story.
- Believe in Bendigo Facebook page
- Population data sourced from City of Greater Bendigo Council website
- More about Margot, the organiser of Believe in Bendigo