Enhancing our culturally diverse Canberra

Canberra is a culturally diverse, inclusive community. Under ACT Labor, we have seen Canberra blossom into one of the most multicultural communities in Australia – Canberra has residents from nearly 200 different countries, and over a fifth of all residents were born overseas.

Fostering an inclusive community has many social and economic benefits.  Whether it’s attracting a skilled workforce across a range of fields, attracting tourists from all over the world for our events and exhibitions, or luring international students to our world class universities and tertiary institutions, ACT Labor has a strong record of making Canberra an attractive place to work, study, settle and raise a family.

We also have a proud record of supporting vulnerable migrants including refugees and asylum seekers, because they too have a lot to offer our community.  That is why we continue to increase services for newly arrived migrants, including housing, interpreter services, English programs and employment support.

But there is more to do.

That is why a re-elected ACT Labor Government will deliver almost $4 million over four years to expand language and employment services for migrants, and to promote a culturally inclusive Canberra that celebrates its diversity.

We will deliver:

$3 million in capital funding for new premises for the Tuggeranong Introductory English Centre at an upgraded Wanniassa Hills Primary School, to help non-English speaking primary school students.

Establish a Multicultural Sports Program that will use sport to bring people from a range of multicultural backgrounds together.

An extra $100,000 in recurrent funding over four years to The ACT Community Language Schools Association, which is the peak body for Canberra’s community language schools.

Establish a microcredit program to assist the development of social enterprises in new and emerging ethnic communities.

Additional funding to ensure the National Multicultural Festival can continue to be the biggest annual event in our city’s CBD.

 

Policy costings

Recurrent

 

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

TOTAL

Multicultural sports

$0.025m

$0.026m

$0.026m

$0.027m

$0.104m

Community language schools

$0.025m

$0.026m

$0.026m

$0.027m

$0.104m

Microcredit for new and emerging communities

$0.065m

$0.067m

$0.068m

$0.070m

$0.270m

National Multicultural Festival

$0.100m

$0.100m

$0.110m

$0.110m

$0.420m

TOTAL

$0.215m

$0.219m

$0.230m

$0.234m

$0.898m

Capital

 

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

TOTAL

Tuggeranong Introductory English Centre

$3.000m

$0.0

$0.0

$0.0

$3.000m

Policy Initiatives

Helping non-English speaking primary school students with their education – Tuggeranong Introductory English Centre

Communication can be a barrier to full participation for many in our community who do not have an adequate level of literacy or fluency in English.

Due to our culturally diverse community, the number of non-English speaking students has increased continually since 2007.  This has resulted in an increase in the proportion of non-English speaking students in the government system from 9.4 per cent of students in 2007 to 12.5 per cent in February 2012, coinciding with an increase in demand for classroom space in the Tuggeranong Valley.

The ACT Government operates currently operates very successful Introductory English Centres for non-English speaking students that provide intensive education to support these students to transition into mainstream government schools.

ACT Labor has continued to deliver recurrent funding increases to English teaching services for students with new resourcing worth $3.4 million and an additional eight specialist teachers to staff Introductory English Centres and provide additional targeted support.  Further resourcing worth $0.25 million has also been distributed to schools to support EALD students in mainstream learning.

We believe that our local society is enhanced by supporting students to become proficient in English by having full access to specialist programs that enable them to develop a fundamental understanding of English, ensuring that they have every opportunity to succeed in our community.  ACT Labor will continue to support excellent outcomes by committing $3 million to provide the Tuggeranong Introductory English Centre with a fully refurbished permanent facility at an upgraded Wanniassa Hills Primary School so that we can continue to support new migrants with their education.

The new Tuggeranong Primary IEC facility will cater for three classes of primary students (around 36 students) providing intensive language training in a modern learning environment.  The centre will have the modern facilities of an ACT Government school providing the latest in learning language technology and practices for students. Wanniassa Hills Primary will also provide a welcoming environment for IEC students as they transition to mainstream classes, while all current and future students at the school will enjoy upgrades to existing classrooms and facilities.

 

Engaging multicultural Canberra through sport

Sport is often said to be a great leveller.  Sport is a universal concept that can transcend language and cultural barriers and allows people from all backgrounds to be part of something together.  ACT Labor understands that sport also provides a valuable and practical mechanism to engage young Canberrans from different backgrounds, foster relationship-building between the participating communities, and create valuable connections between the young people and sport and recreation organisations that they might otherwise not engage with.

That is why a re-elected ACT Labor Government will provide $20,000 a year to secure a part-time coordinator to implement a soccer program in Canberra to work with refugee and other newly-arrived migrants.  The coordinator will work with Capital Football and Companion House, which already run an annual soccer event for refugee communities.

ACT Labor will also provide an additional $5,000 per year to support the Global Cricket Challenge, which the ACT Government held for the first time in 2011.  The Global Cricket Challenge is an annual gathering of cricket players from 6 to 24 years of age from the local Sub-Continent, Middle Eastern and African communities. $9,000 has already been allocated by the Community Services Directorate for the February 2013 event. The $5000 commitment is in addition to this.

The Challenge is hosted by the ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs and staged over one day in late February each year.  It is supported by Cricket ACT and Cricket Australia and this year involved over 400 players.  The Challenge has a family day feel to it and involves a luncheon, the presentation of medals and certificates as well as give-aways from Cricket Australia under their Milo program.  It is a very popular event with the community, and its expansion would look to include more families.

 

More funding for Community Language Schools

ACT Labor will provide additional funding support for the ACT Community Language Schools Association, which is the umbrella body for community-based language schools in Canberra.  The Association has 42 member schools and approximately 1700 students learning different kinds of community languages.

The ACT Government currently contributes a total of $165,000 to the 42 member schools through an annual $90 per student contribution and a schools administration contribution of $57,000 a year across the schools to support the community schools with their programs.

In addition, the Association currently receives $40,000 a year in support from the ACT Government to support its operational costs. This initiative would see an additional $25,000 a year provided to the Association to allow it to support it in performing its important role in the community.

 

Supporting entrepreneurship in migrant communities through microcredit

Many newly arrived refugees and migrants find it difficult to access employment in the ACT, even though they bring many creative ideas and business skills.  This was evident at the Jobs Roundtable conducted by the Minister for Multicultural Affairs in November 2011, which resulted in a number of initiatives to support employment in emerging ethnic communities.  Among them, we introduced a driver training program to support South Sudanese migrants to obtain a driver’s licence, and to teach others in their community to drive.

A re-elected ACT Labor Government will build on these opportunities by investing $270,000 over four years to establish a microcredit program to assist the development of social enterprises in new and emerging communities.

 

The ACT Labor Government has already operated a very successful Women’s Microcredit Program through the Office for Women that offers women on low incomes interest-free loans of up to $3000 to establish or expand a small business idea.  The program has been very successful, with 31 recipients since its inception in 2010. The multicultural microcredit program would seek to replicate this successful model and offer similar loans to eligible migrants, with an annual intake of about 20 recipients.

 

Ongoing investment for the National Multicultural Festival

The National Multicultural Festival is Canberra’s biggest weekend-long celebration, attracting hundreds of thousands of people from all over the region over its three days. It is a celebration of Canberra’s cultural diversity through food, dance and entertainment in the heart of the CBD which has gone from strength to strength under ACT Labor.

In the 2011-12 ACT Budget the ACT Government allocated an extra $100,000 for the Festival over two years. If re-elected, ACT Labor will continue to support the growth of the National Multicultural Festival with a funding boost to ensure it remains one of the ACT’s premier cultural events by allocating on-going additional funding of $100,000 a year.