"Aims: Drawing on two recent Melbourne (Australian) studies, this paper explores the role of urban parks and open spaces in social and cultural health and wellbeing. Study 1 was undertaken in Knox - a middle class area with over 80% of the population born in Australia or north-western Europe. It aimed to: identify categories of people using and not using the selected open space area/s; document users' perceptions of benefits gained from that use; measure the social connectedness of open space users; and explore barriers to open space use. Study 2 was undertaken in Thomastown - an area with more people of lower socioeconomic status where only 17.5% has English as their only language. It aimed to explore: current use of parks and public open space by migrant populations (especially recently arrived migrants); and the potential for increased use of parks and public open space by such populations in the future. Background: Humans depend on nature for psychological, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing (eg. Frumkin, 2001; Roszak et al., 1995; Katcher & Beck, 1987; Wilson, 1984). Many psychological and physical afflictions relate to withdrawal from contact with nature, and exposure to nature may have positive benefits (eg. Scull, 2001; Cohen, 2000; Burns, 1998; Roszak et al., 1995;). Social capital is another key health determinant (Kawachi et al., 1997; Leeder & Dominello, 1999), yet social connectedness is in decline (Putnam, 1995). For migrants (24% of Australia's population), disengagement from nature and fellow humans may be compounded by poor language skills, perceptions of parks/open spaces as 'unsafe' or 'culturally inappropriate', and difficulties in assimilating into Australian society, particularly in gaining a sense of social connectedness (Knox & Britt, 2002; Webber, 2003). Parks and open spaces have the potential to bring together people of "different social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds" (Ravenscroft and Markwell, 2000 p. 138). Methods: The studies used different methodologies: one combined quantitative and qualitative approaches, the other was purely qualitative. The Knox project included: . Surveys of 150 users of selected open space areas; . Surveys of 150 'non-users' of open space areas (recruited at shopping centres); . 3 focus groups - one with users and non-users; one with young people aged 12-17; and one with people with disabilities and/or their carers. Frequencies and cross-tabulations were used to analyze the survey data, and the focus group data was analyzed thematically. The Whittlesea project involved the use of 'sequential focus groups' (Townsend & Mahoney 2005 p. 44), based on established groups or networks: . a Turkish Women's Group; . the 'Beginner's English Class' at Lalor Living and Learning Centre; and . young migrants accessed through the City's Youth Services Officer. The data from each set of focus groups was collated and analyzed thematically, using N-Vivo. Findings: Despite differences between the study samples, both studies highlighted the benefits parks and open space areas provide for psychosocial health, especially for social connectedness. In areas such as Whittlesea, with high refugee and migrant populations, ignorance and prejudice have potentially detrimental effects on the wellbeing of migrant populations. The Whittlesea study highlights the potential for reducing inter-cultural tensions and misunderstandings through use of public open spaces for cross-cultural activities. Similarly, the relationship-building potential of parks and open spaces was acknowledged in the Knox study. Given these (and many other) potential health and wellbeing benefits flowing from use of parks and open spaces in urban areas, it is important to understand why particular groups of people do not access such areas. Both studies explored the reasons for such lack of park/open space use and identified strategies for promoting the full range of health benefits of urban parks and open space areas."