wed 26 MAY 2021


Culturally diverse planning for cities


More than two thirds of the Australian population were born overseas coming from over 300 ancestries, with over 21% of us speaking a language other than English at home. Our cities are fast becoming more culturally diverse, with 83% of our overseas born population living in capital cities. Capital cities like Greater Sydney (36%) and Greater Melbourne (33%) have significantly higher non-English speaking communities than Australia, and places such as Fairfield in Sydney have populations of 70%+ of residents born overseas from diverse places such as Vietnam, Iraq, and Cambodia with high refugee populations. We live on the land of the longest continuous culture in the world. But there is little visibility of this diversity in our public spaces and little planning to respond to diverse local needs and interests.


How can we plan for and design our places, communities and cities differently taking into consideration the diverse cultural experiences, interests, and stories of our new migrant communities?  What can we learn from our First Nations people from their 65,000 years plus knowledge of this place? Based on our engagement and research with 1,000s of people from  across Sydney’s most diverse communities, we will present case studies that will help planners understand how we can improve and activate our public spaces to more effectively, visually and meaningfully reflect the people that live there.


We will present real life lessons, using strong imagery and infographics, from the following leading community research, engagement and planning projects:

  • Bankstown Pause Pods, Centre Activation
  • Griffith Park Masterplan Needs Study
  • Sports Facility Needs in Multicultural Communities, primary research for NSW Office of Sport
  • Cumberland Cultural Plan & Cumberland Open Space Strategy
  • Fairfield City Wide Social Infrastructure and Open Space Strategy
  • Burwood Open Space Strategy
  • Inverell Cultural Strategy

Our presentation will include the sharing of tools and techniques for how to inform, consult and collaborate more inclusively of culturally diverse communities; learnings around how different cultures use spaces differently both day and night; and how to more creatively plan for and design animated, socially connected, and inclusive places, communities and cities based on the stories and experiences of our increasingly culturally diverse communities and the places that have come from.

Sarah Reilly MPIA (Fellow)

Cred Consulting

Sarah is a Sydney based social planning leader with more than 20 years’ experience in community planning, engagement, strategy and policy. She is the founder and Director of Cred Consulting, a unique socially focussed planning, research and engagement consultancy. Sarah is currently a member of the NSW PIA Divisional Committee and on the board of HeadStart Homes, a charity established to enable community housing tenants to enter private home ownership. As Director of Cred, Sarah has led her team to numerous State, National and Commonwealth planning and engagement awards including for Tweed Youth Strategy, Embedding Young People into Planning Practices for City of Parramatta, community engagement design for Cool Streets, and for Greater Sydney’s Social Capital, it’s Nature and Value. She has effectively managed high profile and complex projects and created new processes for more effective planning for social outcomes including Community Benefits Analysis and Complete Communities Assessment approaches to assess social sustainability in new and existing communities. Sarah is a specialist in integrated strategic planning for local government and working within culturally, socially and economically diverse communities. She is an advocate for building strong communities through collaboration, empowerment and targeted and representative engagement. Professional associations: Member and Fellow of Planning Institute of Australia Member, International Association of Public Participation Member, Parks and Leisure Australia Boards and committees: Divisional Committee Member, NSW Planning Institute of Australia Board Member, Head Start Homes PIA Committee Member, NSW Healthy Planning Expert Working Group.

Gareth Hately MPIA

Gareth is an outcome focused planning leader, who is passionate about creating thriving regional communities through partnerships and committed to leading a motivated team.. Throughout his 15 year career he has had the privilege of working for a range of rural, regional, peri urban and metropolitan municipalities, the Municipal Association of Victoria and more recently the Victorian Planning Authority. His career has seen him prepare and lead a range of statutory and strategic planning projects. Career highlights include assisting Government to scope the role of Metropolitan Planning Authority, representing the profession at Federal and State Government Parliamentary Inquiries, co-developing the state’s first Statement of Planning Policy for distinctive areas through to creating new communities through Precinct Structure Planning. Gareth was elected President of PIA Victoria in 2019.