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The Victorian Coalition Government is working hard to ensure Victoria remains a global leader in multicultural affairs, while promoting a cohesive multicultural, multilingual and multifaith society.
In the 2012-13 Victorian State Budget, the Coalition Government invested more than $21 million for the continued improvement of services to meet the needs and aspirations of culturally and linguistically diverse Victorians. Some of the highlights in the multicultural affairs and citizenship portfolio include:
- $5.6 million in the Community Grants Program;
- $3 million for the Cultural Precincts and Community Infrastructure Fund;
- $2 million for the Promoting Harmony Program;
- $1.3 million for the Refugee Support Program; and
- $1.1 million for the Unity Through Partnership Program.
Cultural diversity is one of Victoria’s greatest assets and major strengths – not only in developing a more vibrant, creative and cosmopolitan society, but also in engaging with the rest of the world – delivering social, cultural and economic benefits to all Victorians and the nation as a whole.
The Coalition Government’s approach to multicultural affairs is focused on:
- supporting communities to maintain and express their cultural identity and to respect the diversity of others;
- ensuring all Victorians are informed of their civic rights and responsibilities;
- providing culturally sensitive world-class services;
- promoting and supporting the teaching and learning of languages; and
- assisting multicultural communities to participate fully in society.
The Coalition Government’s vision for a successful multicultural society includes citizenship as one of the pillars whereby all Victorians actively contribute to, and respect, the richness and diversity of our State’s social, cultural, economic and civic life. Citizenship unites our diverse community through a commitment to our nation's democratic institutions, laws, values and the notion of a 'fair go'.
Victoria’s multicultural communities have made and continue to make an enormous contribution to Victoria’s cultural, social and economic development. The Coalition Government is supporting cultural and linguistic diversity through:
- legislation such as the Multicultural Victoria Act 2011 and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001;
- policies including the Vision for Citizenship in a Multicultural Victoria and The Victorian Government’s Vision for Language Education;
- significant investment in interpreting and translating services; and
- investment in programs and services that facilitate equitable access in areas such as aged care, youth services, education, funding of cultural precincts, cultural museums and multicultural festivals.
By taking a whole-of-Government approach and working collaboratively with the broader community, the Coalition Government is contributing to making Victoria one of the most successful cosmopolitan societies not only in the nation, but globally.
Achievements and policies implemented
- Eight new Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) established across regional and metropolitan Victoria to provide greater understanding of local issues and facilitate greater awareness and respect of our diversity.
- Establishment of the Settlement Co-ordination Unit within the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship (OMAC) – the first of its kind established by a state government to co-ordinate across the three tiers of government to ensure improved service responses for newly arrived migrants and refugees across Victoria.
- Delivering more than 50 Rights and Responsibilities seminars per annum to newly arrived migrants and refugees.
- $4 million over four years in Unity Through Partnership grants for multicultural festivals and events that bring communities together throughout Victoria.
- Cultural Precincts and Community Infrastructure Fund of $3 million per annum which provides funding for infrastructure and community space within Melbourne’s cultural precincts.
- $5.6 million per annum for the Community Grants Program that has funded more than 1,800 multicultural community organisations. The grants have established and supported organisations that:
- facilitate community-driven solutions;
- nurture an inter-connected cosmopolitan society though skills and leadership development;
- foster greater social participation;
- build inclusive local networks;
- encourage volunteer contributions to community wellbeing; and
- optimise use of community resources and facilities.
- $400,000 per annum to a Multifaith/Interfaith Grant Program, which funds projects that engender understanding between faith communities and the wider Victorian community, build greater respect for an acceptance of difference, break down stereotypes and encourage unity amongst all Victorians.A $2 million annual investment that supports a range of community harmony initiatives: the flagship celebration Cultural Diversity Week, the Multifaith Advisory Group and Multifaith Multicultural Youth Network and a range of training programs which directly support social cohesion by building understanding and respect between Victorians of different cultural and religious backgrounds.
- Refugee Action Program which aims to improve the capacity of newly-arrived refugees to access existing services and to identify any local settlement issues and gaps in services.
- $2 million over four years to the Multicultural Language Services Program which supports the development of quality interpreters and translators, and optimises the use of language services in Victoria.
- Reformed and enhanced languages education, through a bilingual training program, and the identification of nine language-based clusters of government schools in metropolitan, rural and regional Victoria.
- Extended funding of $3.7 million over four years for the International Student Care Service (ISCS) allowing the service to continue to provide support to international students in times of crisis or need, 24 hours a day seven days a week.
- Officially opened the African Australian Community Centre in Footscray, which serves as a meeting place, a place of celebration, a place of learning and importantly, a place of outreach and support.
- Officially launched the final component of a four-year, $10.2 million joint project between the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne to upgrade the city’s much-loved cultural precincts.