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Conference paper
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This paper reports preliminary findings from a study sponsored by the ESRC about collaborative governance under austerity. While the study involved the comparison of experiences of ‘austerity’ and ‘collaboration’ between eight Western cities, the focus of this paper is the unique experience of collaboration in urban governance in Dandenong, Melbourne. In particular, our research examined distinct forms of collaboration that have occurred under recent conditions of urban policy and funding reprioritisations (2005-2017). In addition to uncovering general details about collaborative structures and stresses, we have discovered that cultural diversity has played a unique role in both defining modes of collaboration as well as the direction of urban revitalisation. Cultural diversity may be typical of many Australian cities since World War Two, where scholarship has long noted the dynamism, fluidity and positivity of new cultural inflows within expansive urbanisation. However, less is known about the ways in which cultural diversity influences collaborative modes of urban governance. Working with recent scholarship on hybridity in urban governance this paper elucidates the specific ways cultural diversity is supported locally in Dandenong and, in turn, used in collaboration. Specifically, it describes a starting position of widespread support for multiculturalism and mutual understanding in the community linked to the distinctive morphology and socio-ethnic functioning of the city. It also describes the multiple forms of engagement and collaboration between actors in revitalisation, such as more traditional forms of engagement between government and non-government actors as well as new forms of political action led by cultural groups to influence the trajectory of urban policy.

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