BACKING BROADER REPRESENTATION: Horsham Rural City Council candidate Susie Relouw and Oasis Wimmera president Anubha Jhalla Das.

BACKING BROADER REPRESENTATION: Horsham Rural City Council candidate Susie Relouw and Oasis Wimmera president Anubha Jhalla Das.

Council diversity values

How do we ensure more diversity on Horsham council?

Liveability
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An advocate and candidate have their say.

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The head of a Wimmera migrant support network is hoping to see residents from many cultural backgrounds stand for Horsham Rural City Council at October's 2020 elections.

OASIS Wimmera president Anubha Jhalla Das said the point of views of people from different nationalities and ethnicities was best understood by people from those same groups.

She said this would give more groups the confidence they needed to approach the Council about issues that mattered to them.

"If someone is from a migrant community, it will give you the confidence for openness, to be there and be part of the activity," she said.

"You feel like you can go and talk to the person.

"If the opportunity opened, I would like to see someone from a migrant background (run for council). But definitely if someone is doing good work, it shouldn't matter where they have come from.

"It suggests we are open to all. Within OASIS Wimmera, we have board members from every part of the world: We have one lady from Spain, one from India, from Nepal and Australia.

OASIS, which began in 2010, has community members from Japan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Turkey among other nationalities. It acts a social platform, hosting sports and fitness programs, gardening and cooking to help members showcase their cultures.

Mrs Das said councillors wanting to engage with cultural communities other than their own could get involved with community events. She said it was not just about migrants getting elected, but the right candidates getting elected.

"We are always open to ideas, because the people who want to settle in Australia are looking for things that we might not be aware of, and locals know that better than us," she said.

Horsham's 2016 census data shows 51.2 per cent of all residents in the council area were women, 1.5 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 12.3 per cent were born overseas and 20.4 per cent had one or both parents born overseas.

Susie Relouw, an early candidate for Horsham Rural City, said it was a "positive sign" if people were concerned about the diversity of its representative body.

Ms Relouw migrated to Australia from England with her family when she was 12, while her husband Andre has a Dutch background.

"We are seeing more migrants come into the community, and everyone brings a different background, talents and skills, which is what we need for a proper democratic council," she said.

"When you've got a community that is changing, you have to have those people represented, and I think that is something that has been missing from the council."

The story Council diversity values first appeared on The Wimmera Mail-Times.

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