Redefining the Mainstream: Local Government, Inclusive Communities

The Second National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism, Immigration and Human Rights


Dimity Fifer
CEO of the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS)

CEO of the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) since 1997, Dimity was also appointed as a Member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, travelling all around Australia consulting on and promoting the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation.

Topic and synopsis:
Let's Marginalise 'Marginalisation'

Are we guilty of using the term 'living at the margins' as if those experiencing some form of disadvantage are separate from the wider community. In 2001, nearly 1 in 4 metropolitan Victorians and over 1 in 3 regional Victorians have social security as their primary source of income, experiencing all the disadvantage of living below the poverty line. These people are our neighbours living alongside us. If we do use the term 'marginalised' we should avoid the temptation of addressing the needs of such a large part of community as an afterthought.

We must never forget that the problems caused by disadvantage and the solutions to address them should be the central focus of policy makers and planners. The numbers demand it. And the responsibilities of democratic and humane government demand it.

VCOSS's social mapping project, soon to be published, has been researching a day in the life of 30 households living in Coburg, Rosebud and Sale. Its main aim was to actively seek and draw out the concerns, difficulties and priorities of people living in the midst of those communities, but whose experience, needs and too often solutions are seen as beingon the margins. The stories in each locality show how different people experience the same environment in different ways so that any planning framework needs to be flexible, sensitive and responsive to diverse needs.

Plenary Speaker


Deakin Woolstores Campus, Geelong Waterfront
30 November - 1 December 2001


Speakers | Abstracts