Migrant and multicultural communities could feel reasonably pleased with announcements made last week as part of the Baillieu Government’s 2011-2012 state budget, said Mr Sam Afra, Chairperson of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) in a media release.
“Overall, ethnic Victorians were seeking two key outcomes from this budget,” Mr Afra said, “direct action to curb spiraling inequities in the cost of living and access to basic services, and the allocation of targeted resources to help vulnerable Victorians become more socially mobile and financially self-sufficient. In both areas, a number of worthwhile initiatives have been outlined, although the true test will of course come with the implementation.”
Mr Afra said he was particularly pleased to see $2 million earmarked over four years to help people with limited English language skills to access essential health, legal, education and employment services.
Mr Afra also described the $2.4 million set aside over four years to establish a migrant settlement co-ordination unit as a valuable investment in community strengthening and capacity building.
“We already know which pockets of the community are feeling isolated, excluded and disengaged from the rest of society. The signs of entrenched disadvantage, hardship, and social isolation are nothing new.”
“Migrants and refugees with low-incomes will certainly benefit from concessions for rising utility, energy and sewerage costs.”
Mr Afra also welcomed news of a 4.9% increase to aged and home care funding and $70.2 million in support for rural health services through the Department of Health, stressing that the unique needs of ethnic Victorians must not be forgotten.
Mr Afra also praised the allocation of $150,000 over three years for a leadership program for African communities and the investment of $400,000 to establish a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Job Bank Registry
“Ethnic Victorians have always been among the most energetic and successful entrepreneurs and small business owners once they are given the opportunity and appropriate support,” Mr Afra said. “So we have been hoping the Baillieu government would include specific measures in its first budget to help stimulate and nurture those endeavours.”
Mr Afra said he looked forward to working closely with the Baillieu government to help enact their policies at the grassroots level.
“Wanting all members of our society to lead independent and productive lives means we all have a part to play in enabling those ambitions to become a reality,” Mr Afra said. “We need to be pre-emptive, consultative, co-operative and responsive.”
Key 2011-2012 state budget announcements for Victoria’s migrant and multicultural communities
Industry, employment and vocational training
- $8.8 million over four years to refocus Victoria’s skilled and business migration program
- $400,000 to establish a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Job Bank Registry
- $400,000 over four years for the establishment of the Victorian Diversity Employment Awards.
- $400,000 over four years for Multicultural Volunteer awards
- $480,000 over four years for the Victorian Multicultural Honour Roll
Multicultural Arts and Multilingual Education
$4.4 million over four years to establish an annual calendar of major multicultural events throughout regional and metropolitan Victoria
- $480,000 in funding over four years to Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) to continue to promote culturally diverse art and artists
- An additional $775,000 in funding for the International Student Care Services (ISCS)
- An additional $16.3 million over four years in Community Language Schools to help teach languages other than English (LOTE)
New and emerging Communities
$150,000 over three years for a leadership program for African communities
- $650,000 in capital funding to build and maintain South Asian community facilities
- $800,000 over four years for free seminars for newly-arrived migrants and refugees on citizen’s rights and responsibilities
Multicultural Youth and Recreation
- $1.8 million over four years for the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) to establish two regional offices for young people from CALD backgrounds
- $ 5 million over four years for Scouts Victoria and Guides Victoria to help engage young people from CALD backgrounds
- Establishment of a Recreational Fishing Multicultural Liaison Team