Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2030


The University of Melbourne acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional owners of the unceded land on which we work and learn. We pay respect to the Elders, past and present, and the place of Indigenous knowledge in the academy.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion

The University of Melbourne aspires to be a place where all people are valued and respected, have equal access to opportunities and are encouraged to fulfil their talents and potential. This strategy offers a way for us to realise these aspirations.

We have a moral and ethical imperative to provide a safe, fair and enriching University environment for all our students, staff, partners and visitors, which reflects the evolving expectations of the communities we serve. We must set and meet high standards for diversity and inclusion that reflect our values. A renewed focus on diversity and inclusion helps us to do this.

Diversity and inclusion are also critical enablers of all pillars of our Advancing Melbourne goals. They help us to attract and retain students and staff of high potential, to future-proof our relevance and capacity to solve complex real-world problems, to prepare students for success as leaders, change agents and global citizens, to develop the skills to lead on matters of national and global importance and to connect respectfully with our communities and places.

It has never been more important for the University to prioritise diversity and inclusion. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our University community in many ways, with significant impacts on international students, parents and carers, digital accessibility for people with disabilities, mental health of those working and studying from home, and inclusion of fixed-term and casual staff. Building a new culture of belonging in this context is critical to our reset and rebound to the future.

We have a shared responsibility to increase diversity and strengthen inclusion through critical reflection on our systems, structures, attitudes and behaviours and to implement actions to effect change. We can learn from both the mistakes and successes of our past and place the onus on ourselves to change, to become more welcoming, just and inclusive. Concerted effort is needed for change to be enduring.

I encourage everyone to embrace this strategy and the guidance it offers about how to make diversity and inclusion a core part of our ‘conscience’ for how we work, learn and partner across all functions and roles at the University.

Professor Duncan Maskell

May 2021

Purpose of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

The purpose of this document is to advance and embed the principles of diversity and inclusion across all activities at the University of Melbourne to create enduring and widespread cultural change.

Diversity and inclusion are concerned with hiring and promotion practices, but also so much more. They are about the University’s entire approach to education and research and how investments and initiatives are prioritised and undertaken in these areas.

Diversity and inclusion are about opening the intellectual enterprise to people prevented from attending because of broader social inequities, and involve creating space, opportunities, entry points, pathways, and support for underrepresented students and staff.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion should also be evident in our approach to building greater diversity in successful partnerships, in our procurement and supply chain practices, and in serving the community through respectful engagement that reflects leading practice.

These pages outline a new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for the University of Melbourne that, for the first time, encompasses all of our undergraduate, postgraduate and graduate research students, and all of our professional and academic staff. In addition, it encourages us to consider our relationships with affiliates, alumni and the communities we serve. When we speak about our ‘University community’, this is what we mean.

The strategy affirms the notion that we are one University community whose success and wellbeing are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. It brings to life the ‘Community’ aspirations outlined in our organisational strategy, Advancing Melbourne, and offers a way of thinking about both what we do and how we do it. This will help us to create a more fair, equitable and enriching environment where all members of our community can make a contribution, pursue excellence and thrive.

Diversity refers to our commitment to recognise, embrace and increase the representation of different groups and individuals at the University.

Diversity at the University of Melbourne means respecting the breadth and range of experience, perspective and knowledge that our staff and students bring to our University community. As a public institution we embrace diversity across our student and staff bodies, and across all roles and functions, to represent, reflect and serve our community. We aim to work with partners who similarly prioritise this objective.

Inclusion refers to our practices that support and embody fairness, safety and equality of opportunity to ensure the full participation and advancement of all individuals and groups

Inclusion at the University of Melbourne is about the systems and practices that create a welcoming and respectful University environment where all members of our community can fully participate, thrive and belong. This supports principles of justice and fairness and meets our duty of care to our staff, students and partners. Meaningful inclusion supports the success of all community members through the realisation of their full potential and thus supports the pursuit of excellence in everything we do.

The case for change

Our organisation is large, complex and stratified. We have legacies of exclusion and injustice that have become embedded in our structures, systems and practices over time. These are increasingly at odds with community expectations and jeopardise the University’s capacity to meet the challenges of a global society. They can generate or exacerbate inequalities of experience and opportunity for our community members given that they have historically favoured the inclusion and advancement of some groups more than others. They act as barriers to safety, inclusion and belonging for all.

The cumulative impact of these barriers is threefold.

  1. Mechanisms for access to the University via admission, selection and recruitment influence the ability to enter our community for students and staff. Past practices have tended to reinforce the demographic status quo in the University, limiting the representation of diversity, particularly at leadership levels, thus limiting our capacity to reflect and effectively serve our broader community.
  2. Members of our community are not enabled to participate on an equal footing and may experience systematic disadvantage, discrimination or exclusion. When this occurs, our community is neither equitable nor just; not everyone can feel included or that they ‘belong’. This limits the fulfilment of personal aspirations and those of the University.
  3. In combination these limit our capacity to build an educational and research culture that truly benefits from a full range of knowledge systems and standpoints. This risks our capacity and readiness to solve complex real-world problems, form the partnerships that support this, and attract and retain great talent among our students, staff and partners.

There are many important initiatives across the University that aim to ameliorate and redress our legacies of exclusion and injustice. Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is a notable example that uses the resources of teaching and learning, research and engagement to strengthen and deepen mutually supportive relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, and other Australians. Its successes have transformed our institution in important ways, with the RAP working to complement other Indigenous-specific plans.

Along with an eye to our challenges, lessons from our existing initiatives and their successes are also instructive. This strategy aims to help us harness both to the purpose and vision for change outlined here.

The Diversity and Inclusion Strategy outlines an overarching vision and four high level goals.

These are our aspirations for 2030: what we want to become and how we will achieve our long term vision.

• A set of outcome statements aligned to each goal indicates the types of changes we seek and how we will measure our success over 10 years

• Strategic priorities outline key focus areas for action that respond to the concerns raised by our University community

• Our strategic priorities for the next 5 years comprise University-wide (cross-cutting) focus areas while also addressing barriers experienced by specific cohorts via targeted action plans.

• Delivery of the strategy will be supported by the key enablers.


A thriving, fair and diverse university community working together respectfully to make a difference to each other and in the world

Goals, Outcomes and Strategic Priorities

Goal 1: Trust and recognition

We are a trusted leader of Diversity and Inclusion, internally and externally


  1. We make our commitments public and measure our progress
  2. Our leaders are informed, accountable, transparent and ‘walk the talk’
  3. D&I compliant policies and procedures are consistently and transparently applied
  4. Unsafe, discriminatory and inappropriate behaviour is neither tolerated nor overlooked

Strategic Priorities:

  • Effective leaders
  • Progress accreditation
  • Ensure compliance

Goal 2: A diverse University community

We reflect the diversity of broader society


  1. Leadership reflects the diversity of our local and global communities
  2. Entry points and pathways support diversification of our student body, workforce, and partners
  3. All University functions benefit from a diverse workforce
  4. We embrace diversity of thought, skills and experience for its contribution to excellence and innovation

Strategic Priorities:

  • Student equity and diversity
  • Staff entry points and pathways

Goal 3: Culture and belonging

Everyone is welcome, safe and can belong.


  1. Everyone is treated with dignity and respect
  2. Our communications promote a culture of inclusion and belonging
  3. All members of our community are welcome and safe (psychologically, culturally and physically)
  4. We adjust to support success for staff, students and partners of diverse backgrounds, experience and need

Strategic Priorities:

  • Address gaps (disability and anti-racism)
  • Culturally safe University

Goal 4: Diversity and inclusion is embedded

Diversity and inclusion is embedded in all our systems, processes and work


  1. Leaders understand and apply inclusive practices
  2. Staff and students have the knowledge, skills and capacity to support our D&I agenda
  3. A D&I lens is incorporated into all aspects of our work
  4. Universal access and design principles are foundational to the development of all buildings, services and technology

Strategic Priorities:

  • Fully Accessible Campus
  • Teaching and Research

Key Enablers

Three areas of work will enable the delivery of the strategy:

  • Data and evidence
  • Accountability processes
  • Communication and engagement

About the goals and outcomes

Trust and Recognition

The University has a strong reputation in research and teaching, but it is not currently recognised as a particularly accessible or inclusive institution. To become a recognised leader in diversity and inclusion, we must foster a culture of transparency and accountability and demonstrate this through measured and reported actions. This will build the foundations of trust upon which our diversity and inclusion agenda can grow.

A Diverse University Community

Having a more socially representative University community is not only about doing the right thing, but also recognising the benefits that come from ensuring we have a more diverse staff and student body. These benefits arise from inclusion of a greater breadth and range of experience, perspectives and knowledge frameworks. A more diverse University community signals to current and prospective students and staff that the University is a place for everyone to fully participate, engage and succeed.

Culture And Belonging

Treating all members of our community with respect at all times is a foundational requirement of a welcoming, safe and inclusive culture. A suite of targeted initiatives will drive cultural change, at both individual and institutional levels to challenge and change power imbalances and embedded practices that militate against this.

Diversity and Inclusion is Embedded

We approach maturity in diversity and inclusion when it is embraced as a shared responsibility and is embedded in all aspects of our thinking, learning and work. The onus is on us as individuals and as an institution to sustain the effort required to develop the capacity and systems to achieve this. The application of universal access and design principles to all of our services, buildings and technology ensures that we plan for accessibility for all, rather than reactively retrofitting an inaccessible space, teaching program or service.

About the Strategic Priorities

Six cross-cutting focus areas will transform the University for our whole community. Three targeted focus areas will address longstanding disadvantage and barriers experienced by specific cohorts within our community.

Cross-Cutting Focus Areas

University-wide initiatives that build diversity and strengthen inclusion for all members of the UoM community

Culturally Safe University
Ensuring a physically, culturally and psychologically safe University for all members of our community

This focus area promotes a culture of inclusion, belonging and respect for all members of our University community. Ensuring that our systems and practices support physical, psychological and cultural safety for all lays the foundations for realising our vision for a thriving, fair and diverse University community.

Fully Accessible Campus
Ensuring physical and digital accessibility for everyone

Embedding principles of universal access and design into all infrastructure, services and technology signals the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and an invitation of welcome to everyone. There is an opportunity to become a leader in accessibility, safety and equity.

Teaching And Research
Connecting our aspirations for education and research to diversity and inclusion

This is focussed on how diversity and inclusion concepts connect to our teaching and research. Practices that foster inclusion in teaching, curriculum development and research will be informed by a range of global perspectives and ways of knowing. Research settings will value diversity among our staff and redress equity gaps in research opportunities and pathways.

Student Equity And Diversity
Identifying alternate pathways to increase equity of access and build student diversity

In order to reflect the diversity of broader society there must be a focus on increasing the diversity of our student cohort across undergraduate, postgraduate and graduate researcher levels. This will require the creation of culturally relevant and responsible opportunities, pathways, entry points and support for underrepresented students.

Effective Leaders
Developing leadership capabilities in diversity and inclusion including establishing KPIs to ensure accountability

This focus area will address the desire expressed within our community for responsible and accountable leadership on diversity and inclusion. People at every level of leadership must be committed to the principles and actions of achieving diversity and inclusion. This applies to the Vice-Chancellor, the Provost, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Vice-Presidents heading business units, Deans, School and Department Heads and leaders of student organisations.

Staff Pathways And Entry Points
Ensuring fair and transparent hiring processes, and equality of opportunity for career progression for academic and professional staff

To achieve our goal of a diverse University community we need a diverse workforce. This will require deliberate attention and effort to ensure that our policies, practices and infrastructure for recruitment and promotion support inclusion and equality, and do not perpetuate systematic discrimination, or exclusion due to unconscious bias.

Targeted Action Plans

Address barriers and disadvantage experienced by specific cohorts within our community

Developing and implementing disability and CALD/anti-racism action plans to ensure a safe University environment.

There is an opportunity to strengthen inclusion efforts across specific cohorts. Targeted areas for action will be the improvement of services and programs for students and staff living with disability or from culturally or linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and implementing anti-racism initiatives.

Progressing key benchmarking and accreditation programs

To ensure that we are a trusted leader in diversity and inclusion, we will assess the inclusiveness of our workplace by our performance against external accreditations, such as the Athena SWAN program of work to enhance gender equity and the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) that benchmarks LGBTIQA+ inclusion.

Monitoring and reporting on key workforce dimensions to comply with federal and state legislation

Cultivating trust, internally and externally, means being accountable and transparent in our reporting. We will continue the ongoing monitoring of organisational culture metrics, reporting on the demographics of our workforce and workforce trends and we will ensure legislative compliance, including with the Gender Equality Act 2020 (Vic) and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)

About the key enablers

Three key enablers play a critical role in implementing our priorities and achieving our diversity and inclusion goals. They directly respond to areas for improvement identified by the University community and will support the embedding of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. These enablers will be integrated into existing accountability frameworks and governance processes.

Data and Evidence

Regular progress reports will deliver on our commitment to build trust through improved accountability and transparency. Improving data collection on diversity and inclusion measures, and reporting on this, has been identified by our community as critical to the success of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Following best practice, a robust data-driven progress and impact framework will be developed to allow us to track progress against defined outcome measures

Communication and Engagement

As a large and complex organisation, whole-of-University communication and engagement with the diversity and inclusion agenda has been identified as a challenge. A strategic communications and stakeholder engagement plan will be developed. This will encourage buy-in to our goals through consistent, clear and honest messaging at both central and local levels.

Accountability Processes

Robust accountability will be embedded in action plans to support implementation, provide transparency and ensure that we are delivering on our goals. This draws on existing mechanisms and processes (annual planning cycle) and establishes clear and transparent lines to delegate individual accountabilities and responsibilities. Accountability will demonstrate our commitment, beyond compliance.

We will take a staged approach to achieving our aspirations for diversity and inclusion at the University.

Our vision, goals and outcomes look to a ten-year horizon, but our strategic priorities have been identified as focus areas for action over the next five years. This roadmap will address the most pressing areas of focus based on an analysis of our current state and will be reviewed in 2025 when a second five-year roadmap will be outlined to take us to the strategy’s completion in 2030, and a clear view of what needs to be in place to follow.

The 2021–2025 roadmap outlines the sequencing of strategic priorities commencing with foundational enabling activities and targeted areas of focus, prior to commencing implementation of cross-cutting initiatives in later years.

For targeted action plans (disability, CALD/anti-racism, LGBTIQA+ inclusion and gender equity), student equity and diversity, effective leaders, and key enablers, implementation will commence in 2021 and continue until 2025.

For culturally safe university, fully accessible campus, staff pathways and entry points, planning and early actions will commence in 2021, and implementation will commence in 2022 and continue until 2025.

For teaching and research, planning and early actions will commence in 2021-2023 and implementation will commence in 2024 -2025.