Our plans for multiculturalism
At a press conference on Monday night Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Nick Kotsiras addressed the ethnic press about the direction of multiculturalism in Victoria
The Victorian government will only honour its own election promises to multiculturalism, and not those of the previous government, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Nick Kotsiras, announced at a press conference on Monday night.
"All commitments we've made, we will honour," Mr Kotsiras said. The $10 million funding that the former Labor state government allocated for multicultural hubs will be honoured only if it was budgeted for, Mr Kotsiras said. "If there's no money there we'll have to deal with it," he said, adding "if the money is there we will honour that money. We will not reject commitments if the money is there".
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu was quick to point out that multicultural affairs are at the forefront of his agenda with a $40 million commitment to languages in Victoria.
The Premier said the government intends to "revolutionise language education in the state" and is committed to introducing compulsory Languages Other Than English (LOTE) classes in every primary school, with the intention of introducing it from Prep to Year 10 by 2025.
Mr Baillieu's government will commit $1 million to schools that offer LOTE and will increase the number of qualified language teachers.
Multicultural festivals and events have been assured $4.5 million by the government while interpreting and translating services have secured a $2 million commitment.
Language gives everyone an opportunity to debate issues, in a more familiar way, and have their voice heard, Mr Baillieu said.
"In a world that's increasingly integrated and technologically entwined, languages and cultures become personal and professional assets," the Premier said. "One great strength of Victoria has been our multicultural base because it provides a gateway to the world and we should be leveraging that gateway and having language skills and diversity at hand because it opens the door to cultural, personal and economic relationships."
The Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) will be "strengthened and made independent" by having some of its bureaucratic functions transferred into an Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship (OMAC).
An independent public entity, OMAC will have additional powers to research, advise and report to the Minister. There will also be eight regional advisory councils.
Mr Baillieu also announced the appointment of Victoria's new Govenor, Alex Chernov. Mr Chernov, who was born in Lithuania, will take office in April.
During the multicultural media conference Mr Baillieu and Mr Kotsiras discussed the importance of ethnic media in Victoria and said multicultural media conferences will become a monthly event to ensure ethnic media has access to the new state government.
Mr Baillieu commended Victorian ethnic media outlets, addressing representatives on Monday night saying "you've all done a fantastic job bringing communities closer together, removing communication barriers, increasing social participation, and giving Australian and Victorian multicultural communities a voice and a connection they might not otherwise have".
Referring to UK Prime Minister David Cameron's statement in recent weeks that multiculturalism had failed in Europe, Mr Baillieu said it was important to celebrate Victoria's success in the multicultural sector.
"It is a success that we can never ever take for granted, we have to work on it and we have to make sure at every turn we do whatever we can to promote multiculturalism, promote the benefits and promote the engagement," he said.
"I'm glad the M-word is back, I think it's important to remember that Victoria has been leading the way in this area for a very long time."
Victorian government's promises for multiculturalism
- Nearly $40 million committed, over 4 years, for language education programs for Victorian schools.
- Compulsory LOTE classes by 2025 for every Victorian primary school and every government school student from Prep to year 10.
- Increasing the number of qualified language teachers by giving scholarships of $20,000 for undergraduate teachers and $50,000 for qualified teachers to study languages.
- Investing $1 million in start up grants for schools taking up languages for the first time to purchase special texts, DVDs and other key resources.
- Increasing student funding for community language schools from $120 to $190 a year per student.
- $250,000 over 4 years to strengthen sister school programs.
- Increased funding for multicultural festivals and events by nearly $4.5 million over 4 years.
- Increased funding by $1.8 million over 4 years for the Centre for Multicultural Youth.
- $2 million over 4 years to increase training of interpreters and translators in established languages.
- $1.3 million to assist 700 multicultural senior citizen organisations across Victoria.
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