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New directions for multicultural Australia.

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New directions for multicultural Australia

1st Jul 2005

More than 1.2 million customers from non-English speaking backgrounds are set to benefit from Centrelink’s renewed commitment to multicultural Australia, Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey MP said today.

Minister Hockey was speaking at the launch of ‘Centrelink Multicultural Directions 2005-2009’, which focuses on improving the Centrelink experience for multicultural customers.

"Quality customer service for all Australians is the foundation Centrelink is built on and the ‘Centrelink Multicultural Directions 2005-2009’ is the latest addition to an extensive range of Centrelink products and services for multicultural Australia," Minister Hockey said.

"With 18 per cent of Centrelink's customers being born in a non-English speaking country, Centrelink supports people from diverse backgrounds through its network of 70 specially trained Multicultural Services Officers who provide vital links with refugee and migrant communities and their representative organisations.

"Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds are supported by their own dedicated Multicultural Call Centre, where bi-lingual staff provide a full range of Centrelink services. This call centre currently provides assistance to more than 40,000 customers each month in their own language.

"Information booklets and fact sheets translated in up to 55 languages are also available of the Centrelink website for people to access 24 hours a day.

"These comprehensive interpreting and translating services are available at no cost to the customer.

"Earlier this month, Centrelink launched a new CD titled ‘Welcome to Centrelink’ which provides an easy-to-understand guide to Centrelink's payments, services and assistance in 10 languages - Amharic, Arabic, Dari, Dinka, French, Pushto, Somali, Swahili, Tigrinya and English.

Minister Hockey said "Australia’s cultural diversity is one of our greatest assets. We are one of the most multicultural countries in the world and the Australian Government aims to ensure that its services are responsive to Australians from all countries.

"This new commitment builds on the achievements so far while recognising the changing issues the community faces, such as an aging population and flow of more migrants and refugees to rural areas.

"Centrelink and the Department of Human Services will continue to closely with the Australian community to widen the range of bilingual and culturally responsive service options for our customers."