Adjournment: My adjournment is to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, and the action I seek is that she visit Shepparton to meet with multicultural groups and leaders in the Shepparton community. As the minister knows, Shepparton has a long, proud history of multiculturalism, where people from across the world have come together as refugees or migrants to make it their home. Whether it be our more recent arrivals from African nations or the Middle East or going back to earlier decades when Greek, Italian, Albanian and Turkish communities came to Australia and chose Shepparton district as their home, the community has welcomed them. We have a range of cultural events at the Shepparton Festival currently, where dancers, singers and performers from different cultures display their talents. We have food festivals like the St Georges Road Food Festival and the Shepparton Albanian Harvest Festival, which was on just last week.
As well as these many cultural events that we all enjoy and welcome back after cancellations in 2020 and 2021, our multicultural communities are making great strides in lifting one another up in a professional and business opportunity sense. There is a multicultural women’s group forming with a spotlight on what it really means to back one another and form a solid sisterhood, not just in friendship but in enhancing careers and employment opportunities for all women. I am excited to share a bit more about this project when it launches next week. We have many organisations, such as the Shepparton ethnic council, St Paul’s African House and Philippine House, to name just a few.
We saw the huge team effort our community made during the severe COVID-19 outbreak last year, which landed a third of our population in isolation. Our community was quick to get on their feet and ready to care for every culture when it came to translation services, culturally appropriate food and whatever services were needed in that time of emergency. It was wonderful to see every nationality volunteering to deliver food and medicine to families in isolation and helping in whatever way they could. It showed what a great community Shepparton is and how we get the job done.
I would like the minister to come and meet with some of these groups and leaders to see firsthand the progress we are making as a community and to see if she can offer any assistance to help them keep up their fantastic work, because there is always more to be done.
Answered: 13 April 2022
I thank the Member for Shepparton for her question and for the invitation to visit the local community in Shepparton.
Shepparton is home to many vibrant multicultural communities and I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the region’s commitment to promoting, celebrating and strengthening cultural diversity. I also wish to acknowledge the multicultural communities, leaders and organisations that have provided immense support to refugees and migrants to settle and call Shepparton home. The strong relationships forged by community members continues to generate positive social, cultural and economic opportunities for multicultural communities in Shepparton, even during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has had significant impacts on the region.
I am pleased that since 2014 in the Multicultural Affairs portfolio, the Andrews Labor Government has provided close to $5 million to organisations in the Greater Shepparton Local Government Area (LGA). This includes $375,000 as part of the 2020-21 Multicultural Community Infrastructure Fund to support upgrades at the Albanian Mosque and Community Centre in Shepparton. Funding support has also been provided for diverse cultural events, including $100,000 to the Shepparton Arts Festival to host the Converge Fest across 2017-2021 as part of the Government’s Multicultural Festivals and Events program. As the Member for Shepparton noted, it is fantastic to see many of these important events back on the calendar this year.
Throughout the pandemic, the Government has provided targeted support to multicultural communities through the CALD Communities Taskforce. This includes $2.73 million provided to community organisations in the Greater Shepparton LGA through the multiple phases of the Priority Response to Multicultural Communities grants program. This funding has supported the provision of emergency and essential supports, expanded community outreach and boosted engagement in the COVID-19 vaccination program.
The CALD Communities Taskforce has supported the development and dissemination of targeted, translated and accessible communications to multicultural communities. This has ensured that information reaches multicultural communities in a timely manner to help them stay safe and well. The Taskforce established a partnership with the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council (NEMBC) to operate a multilingual new service in
19 languages, which was broadcast across 15 ethnic community radio stations, including four regional radio stations. Through this partnership, targeted communications were provided to communities in Shepparton during the COVID-19 outbreaks last year. In addition, the Taskforce provided a grant of $50,000 to the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District to develop audio and video materials about COVID-19 to be hosted on a digital hub and distributed through local community channels.
The Government is also committed to working with local communities to build social cohesion and prevent and address racism, including in Shepparton. I am pleased that we have supported four projects in the Greater Shepparton LGA through the Government’s Local Anti-Racism Initiatives Grants program designed to tackle racism in all its forms, including:
$56,000 to the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District to deliver a series of training sessions to raise cultural competency.
$91,000 to Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Ltd to increase cultural awareness and capability in Greater Shepparton primary schools.
$202,000 to Know Your Roots to build cultural understanding and social cohesion in young people.
$101,000 to Rumbalara Football and Netball Club to develop anti-racism and cultural competency courses.
This important work is supported by the Greater Shepparton Cultural Inclusion Roundtable which I established in conjunction with the Minister for Education in March 2021. The Roundtable brings together representatives from local multicultural and Aboriginal communities, The Victorian Multicultural Commission, Greater Shepparton City Council, Greater Shepparton Secondary College and key government departments and agencies with the aim of strengthening cultural inclusion at the Greater Shepparton Secondary College and across the whole local community. I look forward to seeing long lasting benefits emerging from this forum.
Finally, I would like to again thank all multicultural community leaders in Shepparton for their outstanding support and partnership throughout the pandemic. They have played a key role in ensuring that important health information is accessible and enabled access to essential services and supports to keep the community safe and well. I look forward to our continued partnership in coming years.
Thank you again to the Member for Shepparton for her question, and I look forward to visiting Shepparton and seeing more of the fantastic work that the community is doing.
The Hon. Ros Spence MP
Minister for Multicultural Affairs