Our diverse communities

We’re proud to be one of the country’s most diverse cities.


Why this is important to us

We value the contributions made by all people and believe that this diversity strengthens our city.

Sydney has long been a beacon of acceptance for people from Australia and all around the world. Some visit for a while and others stay for good. People from different walks of life come here to work, live and play.

We value and respect the range of identities, perspectives, experiences and lifestyles of our community, including people young and old, people with disability, people with diverse gender identities, LGBTIQA+ communities and those who have experienced advantage or disadvantage.

Our work with diverse communities aims to

  • build social cohesion, eliminate discrimination and mitigate disadvantage
  • actively remove barriers to inclusive participation faced by different people
  • promote relationships that are based on understanding and respect.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

We value the city’s First Nations people, and the Gadigal of the Eora Nation as the traditional custodians of our local area.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations and language groups make up the land we call Australia. Each nation speaks a different language with its own distinct dialect and cultural beliefs.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer communities

The city is the epicentre of LGBTIQA+ life, history and culture in Australia and is home to the highest population of LGBTIQA+ people. The City of Sydney’s 2018 Community Wellbeing Survey indicated that 21.3% identified as LGBTIQA+.

The City of Sydney works with community partners to deliver events and awareness raising activities throughout the year.

  • We support Wear it Purple Day events which are supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive for young rainbow people.
  • We support Trans Day of Visibility, an annual celebration of trans pride and the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a memorial for those lost during the year due to transphobic violence and abuse. Our community partners include ACON, Inner City Legal Centre, Twenty10, The Gender Centre and NSW Police Force.

The City’s LGBTIQA+ Social Programs Officer works in partnership with community organisations to deliver programs for the LGBTIQA+ community.

Multicultural communities

We value Sydney’s multicultural communities and the varied languages, traditions, religious and spiritual practices of the people that call our city home.

The City of Sydney area is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in NSW and Australia. Over 50% of our residents were born overseas, and 39.2% of people speak a language other than English at home. Most commonly spoken languages include Mandarin, Thai, Cantonese, Indonesian and Spanish.

International student communities

International students also make up a significant part of our communities and they contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of our area. 

As of January 2023, we have 208,000 international students in NSW. NSW is home to the most international students in Australia, and attracted about 38% of all enrolments in 2019.  

There are over 550 international education providers in our area. This includes universities, vocational and educational training providers and English language intensive courses for overseas students. 

Refugees and people seeking asylum

Our city is a culturally diverse area that has become home to refugees and people seeking asylum from around the world.

The United Nations describes refugees as people who are outside their country of nationality and have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group or political opinion.

A person seeking asylum has sought protection as a refugee, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been assessed. People seeking asylum in Australia have no guaranteed right to income, health care or settlement services while they wait for their claim to be determined.

Programs and initiatives

We have been an official refugee welcome zone since 2005, when Council declared its commitment to welcoming refugees and people seeking asylum in our area. This was also a commitment to upholding human rights, demonstrating compassion and enhancing cultural and religious diversity.

People with disability

We aim to make Sydney an inclusive and accessible city for everyone.

We endeavour to make the physical components of the city accessible and provide social and economic opportunities for people with disability to enable full participation in city life.

Support and funding

The City’s grants programs support delivering projects and events in response to the changing needs of our diverse communities.

See projects funded for 2020/21 in the Community Services (Attachment A) and Matching Grants (Attachment E) programs.