Engaged citizens — key initiatives

This objective supports and promotes full participation in strong, resilient and vibrant communities. It empowers citizens to participate in policymaking and service design. It ensures a holistic approach to social policy and service delivery.

DPC’s outcomes on the following key initiatives helped us achieve the Engaged citizens strategic objective.

The Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018–2023

Throughout 2019–20, DPC has continued to progress whole of government self-determination reforms in line with the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018–2023 (VAAF). The VAAF is the government’s overarching framework for working with Aboriginal Victorians, organisations and the wider community to drive action so all Victorian Aboriginal people, families and communities are healthy, safe, resilient, thriving and living culturally rich lives.

In August 2019, DPC launched the Victorian Government Self-Determination Reform Framework to guide public service action to implement the VAAF, particularly the VAAF’s four self-determination enablers.

Some of the reforms being progressed by DPC include:

  • establishment of, in partnership with DJCS, the Stolen Generations Redress Scheme to address the trauma and suffering caused by the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families and communities
  • supporting establishment of a truth and justice process to reckon with past and ongoing injustices perpetrated against Aboriginal Victorians, an historic commitment called for by the Aboriginal community
  • progressing the Aboriginal Funding Reform Project to explore ways to move towards pooled, outcomes-based funding for Aboriginal organisations to support greater self-determination and flexibility over funding expenditure.

DPC also developed the annual Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report (VGAAR), which measures whole of government progress against the VAAF and fulfils a Victorian Budget Paper No. 3 commitment for DPC. The first VGAAR under the new VAAF was tabled in parliament in November 2019 and the second annual report will be tabled in late 2020. In addition to measuring progress against the 111 measures, the second report will also include specific information on whole of government progress to enable self-determination. DPC has also been developing an online data dashboard to ensure VGAAR data is more transparent and accessible to the Aboriginal community and organisations.

Advancing treaty with Aboriginal Victorians

Throughout 2019–20, DPC has continued to lead the government’s work to advance the treaty process in Victoria. This work has accelerated since establishing the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria in late 2019. The Assembly represents Aboriginal Victorians in the current phase of the treaty process and is working with the government to establish elements necessary to support future treaty negotiations. DPC’s work to advance the treaty in 2019–20 has included:

  • supporting the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission to establish the First Peoples’ Assembly, including successfully holding a statewide election for Aboriginal Victorians
  • preparing the government to engage with the Assembly in treaty discussions, including coordinating whole of government participation in advice and decision-making on treaty
  • starting discussions with the Assembly to develop and agree on the treaty elements required under the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018
    — a Treaty Authority, treaty negotiation framework, self-determination fund and dispute resolution process
  • continuing the treaty communications strategy to build understanding between Aboriginal and
    non-Aboriginal Victorians and increase public support and engagement for the treaty.

World Heritage Listing: Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

DPC, in partnership with the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy, completed the nomination dossier for Budj Bim Cultural Landscape to be included on the World Heritage List. In July 2019 Budj Bim became the first Australian World Heritage property inscribed on the list exclusively for its Aboriginal cultural heritage values.

Budj Bim includes evidence of one of the world’s largest and oldest aquaculture systems. Gunditjmara people have used the hydrological systems of the Budj Bim lava flow for the systematic trapping and farming of eels for more than 6,600 years.

DPC worked with the Australian Government to support 12 Gunditjmara Traditional Owners to travel to Azerbaijan for the listing.

Budj Bim experienced a significant increase in visitors immediately following the World Heritage announcement. Accordingly, DPC secured $5 million over four years as part of the 2019–20 Victorian Budget to deliver additional tourism infrastructure at Budj Bim to ensure the area can sustainably accommodate the increased tourism. The additional infrastructure will include new walking paths, signage and multimedia displays, habitats for native bird life and a jetty for visitors to participate in cultural tourism experiences at Tae Rak (Lake Condah).

DPC will continue to work with Gunditj Mirring in delivering the tourism infrastructure at Budj Bim and in supporting the Australian Government to meet its requirements under the World Heritage Convention.

Delivering the Victorian African Communities Action Plan

The Victorian African Communities Action Plan was launched in April 2018 and includes more than 250 actions across six focus areas: business; employment; education; health and wellbeing; inclusion and empowerment; and leadership, cohesion and connection.

In 2019–20, the government has worked alongside African communities and an implementation committee to progress initiatives under the Victorian African Communities Action Plan. This has included:

  • funding homework clubs and engaging school community liaison officers to better support students from African backgrounds
  • developing and beginning the implementation of leadership development programs to develop the capability of up-and-coming and more established African community leaders
  • carrying out the application phase of the Community Innovation Grants to support creative project ideas to effectively engage and support African communities.

Strengthening multicultural affairs and social cohesion

DPC has further strengthened its policy advice and program offerings in multicultural affairs and social cohesion through delivering a range of initiatives focusing on anti-racism and community cohesion. In May 2020, an $11.3 million Multicultural Affairs COVID-19 Response Package was announced to provide a range of support to multicultural communities to help them navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This included DPC providing funding to directly support community organisations to engage with their communities, build digital capabilities, enhance communication with multicultural communities and support at-risk individuals and groups within the multicultural sector.

In 2019–20, DPC worked to improve community education, awareness and access to rights and reporting avenues in relation to experiences of racism and discrimination, including through partnering with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to deliver the Reducing Racism project. The project seeks to improve reporting of racist incidents. In addition, DPC funded research through the Scanlon Foundation to strengthen evidence and better understand community-based attitudes towards racism. DPC also partnered with the Melbourne Press Club to establish an inaugural Quill award to address racism in the media.

Supporting multicultural and multifaith community groups

Grant programs offer multicultural communities an opportunity to express, share and practise their beliefs and traditions with the wider Victorian community. In 2019–20, DPC continued to offer support to multicultural Victorians through several grant programs:

  • The Multicultural Festivals and Events program showcases Victoria’s cultural diversity and allows multicultural communities to celebrate, preserve and share traditions through festivals, events and performances. In 2019–20, DPC supported 837 festivals and events with an allocated budget of $2.23 million. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, around 270 funded festivals and events scheduled to take place between 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2020 were cancelled or postponed. DPC supported organisations to reschedule festivals and events, or to deliver their events in an online format to enable Victorians to continue to celebrate our state’s vibrant cultural diversity.
  • The Multicultural Community Infrastructure Fund program helps Victoria’s culturally diverse communities to feel connected with their traditional culture and identity as they participate in and contribute to society. The fund achieves this by helping build, restore and enhance facilities where multicultural communities gather.
  • The Multicultural Senior Citizens Organisational Support program ran from 2016–17 to 2018–19 and provided $6.8 million in funding to 840 multicultural seniors’ organisations across Victoria to support their activities and needs.

Supporting asylum seekers and refugees

In 2019–20, DPC continued to support asylum seekers, refugees and established culturally diverse communities via the Strategic Partnerships Program, which delivers community-designed solutions in 11 defined geographical areas (four metropolitan and seven regional). Each partnership comprises a lead agency and several partner agencies.

To complement the program, a network of 11 strategic engagement coordinators have been employed — one in each area. The coordinators work to identify service gaps and opportunities to deliver improvements to place-based support services for diverse communities. Under the Multicultural Affairs COVID-19 Response Package, $440,000 in extra funding was provided to the coordinators for projects that improve digital outreach to refugees and new migrants during the pandemic.

Providing translation services

In 2019–20, DPC continued work to improve multicultural communities’ access to interpreting services. DPC supported the interpreter workforce with training and professional development through the Interpreter Scholarship Program with RMIT University and the Professional Development Program with Monash University.

As part of the $11.3 million Multicultural Affairs COVID-19 Response Package, $1 million was dedicated towards improving access to translated materials during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Supporting Victoria’s veterans

This year an important focus has been on planning for the historic 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, DPC developed an extensive program of activities to enable Victorians to recognise this important anniversary at home. Key cultural institutions and organisations representing ex-service members were engaged to deliver a virtual program, and 32 projects were funded across Victoria including events, exhibitions and activities to recognise the anniversary in August 2020.

In 2019–20, DPC distributed $2.13 million in grant funding to 148 projects for veterans’ welfare and capital works and on projects to commemorate veterans service, to educate Victorians on the service and sacrifice of veterans and to encourage community support of significant events such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. The Veteran Capital Works Grants program supports building and facility improvements for organisations.

Additional funding of $1.55 million was distributed to RSL Victoria and Melbourne Legacy to ensure veterans receive vital support during the coronavirus (COVID‑19) pandemic. RSL Victoria was provided with a $100,000 grant of which $80,000 will be paid in 2020–21, to establish a veteran’s call centre to provide a central point to connect veterans and their families with government services and support from ex-service organisations.

In October 2019, DPC supported the government to launch the Veteran Employment Network for veterans working in the public sector and the Veteran Mentor Program to match veterans interested in working in the public sector with veteran public sector employees. DPC engaged with people who had expressed an interest in veteran employment programs through delivering veteran employment workshops and transition seminars. New tools were developed to help guide veterans on applying for roles in the public sector.

DPC continues to support the Shrine of Remembrance to commemorate the service and sacrifice of veterans, including through virtual commemorative services held on ANZAC Day and the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day for the Second World War.

Support was provided to the Vietnam Veterans Association of Victoria for welfare and commemorative activities, school visits, the development of new teaching and learning resources and for the National Vietnam Veterans Museum.

Victoria’s war heritage was supported through the grants program, the War Heritage Collections Training program and an audit of Avenues of Honour.

In 2019–20, DPC continued its support of the Victorian Veterans Council to assist the council to meet its objectives.

Delivering inclusive events and festivals

Beginning in 2018–19, the Pride Events and Festivals Fund is investing $3.2 million over five years to help deliver inclusive events and opportunities for LGBTIQ Victorians and communities to connect, engage, celebrate diversity and promote inclusion. Grants provided in 2019–20 supported 52 events, including the Minus18 Queer Formal 2019, which brought together 500 LGBTIQ young people to connect, make friends and celebrate. Funding was also provided to the Melbourne Queer Film Festival to strengthen the organisation’s philanthropic, patron and donor programs and to further develop its connection, engagement and reach across regional Victoria.

Progressing full inclusion for LGBTIQ Victorians

Key initiatives delivered by DPC in 2019–20 to support the wellbeing, inclusion and participation of LGBTIQ Victorians include:

  • allocating additional funding to La Trobe University to develop tailored resources to support survivors of harmful LGBT conversion practices
  • building capacity and leadership capabilities through the LGBTIQ Leadership Program
  • progressing Victorian Government election commitments by engaging communities in the development of Melbourne Pride 2021 and starting to develop improved wellbeing and mental health supports and the LGBTIQ homelessness grants program to improve the safety and inclusion of LGBTIQ Victorians.

Support for LGBTIQ Victorians during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

More than $1 million was provided to LGBTIQ organisations to target the needs of LGBTIQ Victorians during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The funding has helped organisations to meet increased demand for services and to provide support to LGBTIQ Victorians by building connectedness and countering the impacts of social isolation within the LGBTIQ community. Organisations that have received funding include Switchboard Victoria, Drummond Street Services, Thorne Harbour Health, JOY 94.9 FM, Pride Cup and Celebrate Ageing.

Progressing gender equality

In 2019–20, DPC continued its work on creating a more gender equal Victoria, through the continued implementation of Safe and Strong, Victoria’s first gender equality strategy. The Office for Women worked closely with funded partners to adapt to a coronavirus (COVID-19) environment.

As at 30 June 2020, gender equality progress includes:

  • Passing the Gender Equality Act 2020, which was enacted on 25 February 2020 and will commence in March 2021. The legislation, the first of its kind in Australia, aims to improve gender equality across Victoria’s public sector, universities and local councils with 50 or more employees, and to get better results for the Victorian community through improved policies, programs and services. The Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector will also be established to support entities to meet their obligations and drive real progress towards workplace gender equality.
  • Releasing Victoria’s first ever Gender Equality Baseline Report. This baseline allows the Victorian Government to measure progress on key gender equality priorities — including women’s economic security, leadership and participation in decision making and addressing gendered norms, stereotypes and expectations. It provides the first ever baseline position of gender equality in Victoria in 2019.
  • Supporting the delivery of a range of women’s economic security programs. Brotherhood of St Laurence Stepping Stones program supported 298 women to build the skills to start their own small business, SisterWorks scaled up operations and supported 783 migrant and refugee women to access employment, and Women’s Information Referral Exchange developed an evidence based toolkit to support women’s financial literacy.
  • Continuing to address sexist advertising by reinvesting in the Gender Equity in Advertising project with Women’s Health Victoria. This project is the first coordinated effort in Australia to promote gender equality and address the gendered drivers of violence within an advertising setting. The project aims to create a more gender equal advertising sector by targeting the industry, through the development of sector training pilots. The project also increases awareness of the harms of sexist advertising, through a website and campaign, and through partnerships with the Australian Association of National Advertisers and the Commonwealth Government will seek stricter parameters around sexist advertising in Australia.
  • DPC supported the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Trust to engage more than 12,000 women across Victoria in a series of talks, events and workshops held at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, including events on International Women’s Day. The Trust also partnered with organisations including Multicultural Arts Victoria, the Melbourne Writers Festival and the Feminist Writers Festival to drive the development of new women’s cultural activities.
  • Supporting a range of activities highlighting women’s achievements and supporting women into leadership roles, including the induction of 32 women to the 2020 Victorian Honour Roll of Women, as well as the provision of 62 scholarships for Victorian women to participate in the Australian Institute of Company Director’s Board Leadership programs.
  • Delivering the ‘Together We Care’ social media campaign, which highlighted the immense unpaid and paid care work performed by women, in the context of COVID-19, as a basis to challenge assumptions about the way we live, work and care, and promote greater equality. The campaign featured a number of case studies, spotlighting and celebrating frontline workers, women juggling paid and unpaid work with teaching responsibilities, and men undertaking care work. Over a period of two weeks in May 2020, the campaign was delivered on the Minister for Women and Women Victoria social channels and reached almost 95,000 people.

Preventing family violence and all forms of violence against women

In 2019–20, DPC continued to implement the Free from Violence: First Action Plan 2018–2021, which was launched in January 2018. The action plan highlights 33 key actions to deliver on the 10-year Free from Violence Strategy, which was launched in 2017.

As at June 2020 progress against Free from Violence includes:

  • Continued roll out of the Free from Violence Local Government Grants Program across 35 local government councils. An evaluation by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety of progress towards outcomes found that: participating councils have demonstrated increased capacity to be leaders in primary prevention; there has been growth in the number and expertise of the prevention workforce; and high-quality prevention programs are being delivered.
  • Delivery of a range of initiatives through the Aboriginal Innovation Fund, led by the community and community leaders, which have shown increased community awareness and knowledge of services, support and culture; improved understanding of healthy and respectful relationships in Aboriginal families and community; and increased confidence and leadership of Aboriginal people in the design and delivery of primary prevention projects.
  • New and further research into the intersectional drivers of family violence and what works to prevent it, including new evidence-based guidance for promoting bystander action, for engaging men and boys in prevention of violence against women and for preventing family violence against LGBTIQ communities.
  • A stronger, more capable specialist prevention sector, through roll out of capacity building support in 12 women’s health services and dedicated training provided to practitioners. Prevention workers built their knowledge and skills and were able to connect with other prevention workers through communities of practice, conferences and networking events.
  • A joint commitment by the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne to build a family violence memorial in the heart of Melbourne to honour the lives of victims and survivors of family violence, and provide a place for healing, remembering and reflection. A Working Group was established in late 2019, made up of representatives from the City of Melbourne, the Victorian Government and the Victims Survivors’ Advisory Council (VSAC). As part of its work to recommend a design concept, the Working Group consulted with several stakeholders including, VSAC, Traditional Owner groups and Aboriginal Family Violence organisations.

Supporting the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor

On 1 August 2019, former Victorian Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard PSM was appointed as the new Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor to monitor and review how effectively the government and its agencies are implementing the family violence reform recommendations. Informed by consultations with more than 50 individuals, agencies and organisations, the Monitor’s third report was tabled in parliament on 18 February 2020. The report detailed implementation over the 12 months to 1 November 2019 and identified areas of progress, as well as where greater attention would benefit the effective reform of family violence services. On 1 June 2020, Ms Shuard called for submissions from the family violence and broader service sector to supplement consultations and other monitoring activity to inform her fourth report.

Giving youth a voice in the design of policies, programs and services

Victorian Youth Congress

In 2019, 19 diverse young people from across Victoria were appointed to the second Victorian Youth Congress to provide advice and feedback to the Minister for Youth on issues of importance to young people. The 2019 Victorian Youth Congress identified political and civic engagement of Victoria’s young people as their priority area of focus.

Engaging and supporting vulnerable and at-risk young people

Community support groups

DPC funds six community support groups (CSGs) to support young people from diverse backgrounds. CSGs are place-based and community-led initiatives that work with multicultural communities across Melbourne. The CSGs have assisted communities with more than 10,000 case management requests in 2019–20 and have been instrumental in supporting communities through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Le Mana Pasifika Project

In 2019–20, the Le Mana (Empower) Pasifika Project worked in eight Melbourne schools providing individual and group support to Pasifika young people with the aim of increasing their educational engagement and community involvement. Two Youth Governance Groups consisting of 28 Pasifika young people ensured that the voices of young people drove the design of program activities. Project activities included a homework club, sporting activities and facilitated discussions on mental health and strengthening cultural identity.

The Le Mana Pasifika Project adapted its delivery model in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with supports delivered online and via phone. Since March 2020, individual phone support provided to Pasifika young people increased by 250 per cent.

Empowering communities to lead change through place-based approaches

The Working Together in Place initiative aims to identify how government can work differently to address entrenched disadvantage in Victorian communities. Work to date has highlighted the need for more flexible, multidisciplinary and outcome-focused ways of working across government.

The initiative recognises that providing services alone does not enable communities to strengthen and overcome complex challenges. Place-based approaches put the knowledge, resources, capabilities and priorities of local communities at the centre. Importantly, decision-making is shared between the community and government, and all stakeholders work collectively towards the shared goal to achieve real change. In this way, place-based approaches support preventative, cost-effective responses to complex challenges by leveraging a community’s strengths, building resilience and targeting investment on what works locally.

In implementing the initiative, DPC is working with diverse communities across Victoria and external experts, drawing on a broad range of evidence to test and demonstrate reforms required to more effectively support and enable communities to achieve locally identified outcomes.

Progress towards achieving the objective

The output performance measures that provide information on DPC’s progress in achieving the ‘Engaged citizens’ strategic objective are outlined below.

Objective indicator: Increased opportunities for participation by members of the Victorian community in the social, cultural, economic and democratic life of Victoria

Unit of measure





Capacity-building activities provided for Traditional Owners to support the management and protection of Aboriginal cultural and intangible heritage and treaty readiness





Participation of Aboriginal people in Local Aboriginal Networks





Consultations with culturally and linguistically diverse communities





Victorian population engaged by multicultural and social cohesion initiatives





Attendance at the Cultural Diversity Week flagship event, Victoria’s Multicultural Festival





Community engagement: Shrine ceremonial activities, public and student education programs, tours and general visitation





Number of veterans employed in the Victorian public sector





Number of people engaged with LGBTIQ equality projects and consultations





Participation by young people in programs that provide opportunities to be involved in social and economic life in their communities





Participation by young people in programs that support young people to be involved in decision-making in their community





Participants (youth) reporting development of transferrable skills that support education, training and vocational opportunities





Number of women participating in funded programs, projects and events





Percentage of women in new appointments to paid public boards





Note: nm — new measure

Further details on DPC’s 2019–20 performance against its output performance measures are covered in the section Performance against output performance measures.