The Social Cohesion and Community Resilience Ministerial Taskforce, led by Deputy Premier James Merlino, met for the first time last Wednesday to discuss strategies to tackle all forms of violent extremism and strengthen our multiculturalism.

The taskforce, which has ministers across four key portfolios of education, youth, multicultural affairs and police, is tasked with examining whole-of-government and whole-of-community evidence-based approaches to strengthen social cohesion and enhance community resilience.

In its inaugural meeting, the taskforce endorsed the establishment of a new $4 million Social Cohesion and Multicultural Research Institute, as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s $25 million plan to promote multiculturalism.

The Institute will not be a bricks and mortar entity, but rather a virtual body of academics, researchers and evaluators working to build the evidence base we need to better inform policy and practice through research and evaluative efforts.

An Interim Advisory Board chaired by Mark Duckworth, Chief Resilience Officer from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, will be established to develop a research program to address the issues facing Victoria, including those relating to multiculturalism, intercultural relations, youth affairs and extremism.

The Interim Advisory board will be:

Emeritus Professor Gary Bouma AM, Monash University

Dr. Hass Dellal OAM – Executive Director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation

Ms Anthea Hancocks – CEO Scanlon Foundation

Professor Michele Grossman –Director and Research Program Leader, Victoria University

Professor Andrew Markus – author of the Mapping Social Cohesion longitudinal study (Monash University)

Other academics and researchers may join as the research priorities are developed further.