Assembly supports multicultural communities to thrive and stay connected to culture

Australian Greens

The Greens want a Canberra that is truly inclusive, a place where everyone can live, work, play, thrive and reach their full potential.

A motion put forward by Greens MLA Andrew Braddock, and endorsed by the Legislative Assembly today, will see Canberra’s multicultural communities better supported to participate in public life, while maintaining connections to culture.

The motion has committed the ACT Government to:

  1. Provide targeted support for writing submissions for grants, budget and other inquiry processes
  2. Improve accessibility of grants – e.g. by holding training sessions for grant applications, or for peak bodies to distribute small grant programs to smaller community groups
  3. Ensure the ACT meets the 10 National Settlement Outcomes Standards which include education, employment, health and wellbeing, housing finance and social support for new migrants.
  4. Invest in Canberra’s Community Language Schools by helping them to secure stable access to venues, and enhancing quality, efficacy and financial sustainability.
  5. Investigate formal training options to upskill community group volunteers at little or no cost to them.

In Canberra, the ACT Community Language Schools Association has over 400 teachers delivering classes in 33 languages to more than 2,700 students. They connect up to 80,000 people across the wider Canberra community.

Quotes attributed to Dr Fuxin Li, President of ACT Community Language Schools Association

“Community Language Schools play an important role to maintain and celebrate the unique identity of our multicultural communities. We thank Andrew Braddock and welcome this motion to help us continue classes so more people can maintain their cultural identity.

“Increased support will see better language teaching, community connections and an enrichment of diversity in the ACT. Community language schools are playing a vital, significant and indispensable role in Canberra, especially during this outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic, to unite more communities through their languages.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic some schools have closed, some have no location to run their classes, and opportunities for professional development have been limited.

“The schools also played an important role delivering and implementing COVID-19 measures including vaccination for social cohesion and development.

Over the past ten years, funding has not increased which means on a per capita funding level, the ACT is far behind the other states and territories. We need more support from the ACT Government to increase funding to open more long-term, free community language schools and provide more professional development opportunities for teachers.”

Quotes attributed to Chief Executive Officer of Settlement Council of Australia, Sandra Elhelw-Wright

“Young people learning their mother-tongue is vital to their sense of identity and belonging. It’s important for facilitating deep and meaningful connections to family and community. There are also a host of other developmental, intellectual, and economic benefits.

“Without concrete opportunities to learn mother-tongue languages, we risk losing our cultural diversity as a community. We can only maintain our diversity if communities are supported to retain links to their heritage and to keep their languages alive. If cultures and languages aren’t kept alive, there will be no multiculturalism in the future.”

Quotes attributed to Andrew Braddock MLA, ACT Greens spokesperson for Multiculturalism

“I hope the passage of this motion leads to a greater investment in our multicultural communities, so that they can truly thrive.

“I want to see our community language schools well funded and attended, I want our government processes to be more inclusive and thoughtful, and most importantly I hope to see members of our diverse communities sitting in the Legislative Assembly as elected members in the near future.

“While the ACT has fantastic grants to support community groups, applying for them can be challenging at the best of times, let alone if English is your second or third language.

“While our Federal government has programs to help people attain citizenship, there are few programs that explain what it means to exercise your full rights as a citizen.

“In the ACT, such programs could help people understand how to engage with their democracy, translate government consultation documents, support community groups to effectively advocate for their own needs, and improve migrant and refugee representation in governments, parliaments, media and other public spheres”

/Public Release. View in full here.