Ensuring the voices of culturally and linguistically diverse communities are heard and valued.

Learn more about this project


Waterways of the West is a community visioning and engagement initiative launched by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), to ensure iconic waterways in Melbourne’s West are protected for generations to come. DELWP engaged Ellis Jones to support Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities to engage with this process and to work with the community assembly to develop the final community vision.


People from various cultural backgrounds live in the West of Melbourne, yet CALD communities do not commonly participate in broad-based community consultations. Ellis Jones led a community consultation to ensure the voices of the CALD communities were heard.  The consultation focused on the communities’ current relations with and future aspirations for the Waterways of the West. This includes:

  • Identifying and contacting the CALD communities of the West by leveraging our established network and consulting with expert stakeholders on best-practice CALD engagement in the West of Melbourne.
  • Designing, recruiting and conducting four focus groups with members of the Vietnamese and New Migrant communities, who form a significant subset of those living in the West. Our consultants created a safe, comfortable and fun experience for participants to share their thoughts on the waterways and how to best consult with them in the future. The design of the information presented to participants incorporated Traditional Owners perspectives and environmental perspectives of the Western waterways and the use of interactive engagement activities and visual aids to facilitate discussions as English was a second language for participants.
  • Conducting a deep analysis of the collected feedback and delivered an engagement report and presentation on findings to DELWP.
  • Working with a team of facilitators over a day to draft a community vision that reflected the aspirations of the diverse residents of the area.


The engagement process has:

  • Enabled CALD perspectives, which were formally missing,  to be incorporated into waterway management and planning.
  • Engendered a better understanding of how CALD communities interact with the waterways now and in the future and the extent to which their priorities align with the wider community.
  • Increased awareness among two CALD communities from the West of Melbourne about the Waterways of the West consultation process, the relationship between Traditional Owners and the local rivers, and the issues relating to the future use and development of the rivers and surrounds.
  • Strengthened DELWP’s understanding of barriers to broader CALD engagement with Waterways of the West processes and possible avenues for future engagement.

The community vision will ensure that the  Waterways of the  West are managed in line with community values and needs for generations to come.