Hakan Akyol outlines the 2001 policy development under the Bracks government
02 March 2009
source not available
Looking from a practical sense, the community alliance program has expanded from about – has expanded from about 750,000 for approximately 4.6million now. The racial and religious tolerance legislation was passed through into 2001 it came into effect, 1 January, 2002. In terms of multicultural policy, Multicultural Victoria Act came in to effect in 2004. Or was passed through then. And what that also did was provided a sort of legislative framework for multicultural policy as well. It sort of enshrined in legislation a set of principles. It re-established the commission within that act rather than have separate Victorian Multicultural Commission Act.
And we saw that as a positive thing in the sense – in terms of the commission that rather than having that sort of multicultural commission act and they’re responsible, it was basically a whole of government approach was what the approach is at this – the principles and the Multicultural Victoria Act, but it also, part three of that piece of legislation, legislated for government departments to report annually against certain criteria in terms of what they’re doing or achievements in multicultural affairs were, including things like board and committee representation of core background, communications then to ethnic media, the expenditure and activities in terms of interpreting and translating services.
And sort of a gravel I guess of major improvements in multicultural affairs to a sort of tougher climate, that departments have to report on. Last year there were further requirements for each department to develop cultural diversity plans, was also brought in as well. So in terms of that sort of policies framework – department – a legislative framework in terms of the Multicultural Victoria Act and also the racial and religious tolerance legislation sort of designed to provide some protections from serious racial vilification.
Qualified with a sort of freedom of speech requirements etcetera in terms of trying to find the right balance. Now of course, that piece of legislation generated considerable controversy and continues to from time to time. In fact it’s been raised in parliament this week again. But although interestingly more in the context of, there should be more done about it, rather than actually, why do we need it? Which you – the flipside of it is actually quite a positive thing.
In terms of the commissions grants program, we’ve probably in excess of 1600 organisations through the (UNCLEAR 02:46) program. Approach has been to try to spread the pie – which has expanded – as sort of, equitably and sort of widely as possible. Some of the groups that we fund don’t receive funding from any other sources and it might only be $500 or $1000 or $2000 for either an event or organisational support. But it provides some of the – sort of the glue or something, sort of the substance from which they can operate, so that, rather than having to worry about generating and focusing on raising some postage money or other sort of nitty gritty, they can actually work on actually doing the social events and social activities rather than focusing on some of the other – or worried about some – relatively speaking small funds.
And they provide such great strength and support for those communities and often unheralded which is why in 2002, we established the awards for excellence in multicultural affairs. And one of the categories is basically acknowledging that if you’ve served a minimum of 10 years for a community organisation in sort of an office bearer role, we’ll acknowledge that.
One of the other reasons why it got established, also was that an element of frustration and there was probably a combination, in fact, the National Awards that come out on the Queen’s birthday or Australia Day, don’t necessarily reflect the composition of the community. Whilst there is always encouragement for people to nominate, the – if you look at the composition of the recipients, it doesn’t necessarily reflect – they’re all individually worthy, warrant the awards, but some of the people that we present awards for, equally worthy –have equally contributed to their community or the broader community, or have supported an aged care facility, not necessarily even in their own ethnic community but have – as part of their ethnic community as well, have contributed well.
But we’ve got a number of other categories as well, whether it’s in business, whether it’s media award, whether it’s local government, health and so forth, or service (UNCLEAR 04:54) So we’ve sort of developed that and we’ve established the sort of, Celebrate Our Cultural Diversity week in March as well, which goes for a week and again, it’s to sort of promote diversity in our multicultural state, not only to the ethnic communities themselves, but the broader community in terms of what the social, cultural and economic benefits that that generates for everyone.