Introduction

‘Meet the Neighbours’ is a concert event especially produced for the diverse ethnic groups living in the western suburbs of Melbourne. The first concert was in October 2006 followed by another in November 2007.

The first concert was funded by Vichealth and the second concert was funded by Vichealth and the Ross Trust, with considerable support from a number of other organizations.

The project had its beginnings with a program to help newly arrived groups become familiar with the local Australian animals in the Maribyrnong river Valley. Many newly arrived groups currently are from Africa.

The program involved a co-operative effort between the New Hope foundation and the Living Museum to educate groups about local indigenous animals using the Museum’s exhibition, ‘Pobblebonk’.

The intent of the introduction to local animals was meant as a gentle welcome to the area so that newly arrived migrants could start to become familiar with the simple things that children learn about in their own home area.

It is also part of an education program for everybody to learn that there are still many animals in and near the city that we need to help and protect by protecting local habitat. They are our ‘neighbours’.

The response to this education program with the newly arrived migrants was delightful. People smiled, laughed and began telling us about animals and animal stories from their home country and their childhood.

 We all thought we should share these animal stories and maybe have a picnic. The idea of the picnic grew to a larger event and ‘Meet the Neighbours’ came into being.