Migrant communities will be the big winners under a Labor government, according to Chris Gambian, Labor Candidate for the multicultural Sydney seat of Banks, and himself a first generation Australian from Indian-born migrant parents.
Speaking after the announcement of Labor’s $8 million funding boost to community language schools, Mr Gambian said that helping kids gain fluency in their mother-tongue was an important element of a strong multicultural society.
“Language helps us bridge the distance between our ancestral homes and Australia. That is good for trade, good for culture and good for families” he said.
This investment will help more Australian children get the chance to learn other languages. Currently, community language schools teach mostly school age kids. But the younger someone starts learning another language, the easier it is to pick up. That’s why we’ll help more community language schools open up their classes to pre-schoolers as well as school age children.
Grants of up to $25,000 per school will allow language programs to be expanded to preschool children. The grants could also go towards the costs of setting up a new school, better teacher training, or classroom resources.
Community language schools have been operating in Australia for more than 150 years. There are now about 700 community language schools across the country, teaching around 100,000 students in over 80 languages.
Community language schools are not-for-profit and operate outside mainstream school hours, often on a Saturday. They are open to all students regardless of their linguistic or cultural background. The schools can assist children of migrants retain the language and culture of their parents, grandparents and community members who may have learned English as a second language.
The more Australians we have learning languages other than English, the better for our economy, and our society. Community language schools contribute to Australia’s standing as a successful multicultural nation. They help preserve and celebrate cultures and traditions and promote diversity, inclusion, and respect.
Chris Gambian is the Labor candidate for Federal Parliament.