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Government achievements in ethnic affairs and settlement services

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78/84 8 November 1984


The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the Hon. Stewart West, today, said that the Government's achievements in ethnic affairs and settlement services for migrants had been remarkable for just 20 months in Office.

"The Labor Government believes that it is just not good enough to bring migrants to Australia and ignore their settlement needs after arrival" Mr West said.

"Significant initiatives have been introduced since coming to Office.

- We have increased the number of grants-ln-aid to ethnic and other community organisations by 54% from 140 grants to 201.

- We have instituted the Migrant Workers Rights Scheme - 14 special grants-ln-aid for trade unions to address the special needs of migrants in industry.

We have extended and strengthened the Migrant Resource Centre network by creating 3 new centres, new sub-centres and increased overall funding by 72% for the program.

We have boosted funding of the Adult Migrant Education Program (AMEP) by- 19% to- a record $44 million in 1984/85. This is the Government's major program to ensure access and equity for migrants in Australia since acquiring English is basic to full participation in Australian life.

Particular AMEP initiatives have included:

- creation of 409 permanent teaching positions in the service across the country ($3.06 million since coming to Office);

- providing childcare for people attending AMEP courses. This is now available at over 40 centres ($1.55 million since coming to Office);

- providing greater course flexibility within the AMEP by establishing self-access centres where migrants can study at their own pace, under supervision and by establishing longer formal classes;

strengthening curriculum development and enhancing courses- ln-lndustry for learning English on the job.

- We have reversed the previous Government's policy of relying on ethnic community organisations and Migrant Resource Centres to deliver Information about Australia to migrants who enter the community without going through the hostel system. The vast majority of people do not benefit from hostel courses and programs. To

redress this Imbalance, we have announced our intention to establish Migrant Access Centres (MACs) in all mainland State capitals. These will be shop-front Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affalrs-run centres which will deliver a co-ordinated and comprehensive Information program for new arrivals.

- We have boosted funding by over 100% for translator and Interpreter services under cost sharing arrangements with the States - $1.9 million since coming to Office. New agreements have been signed with Victoria and NSW for specialist

services and other states are expected to sign similar agreements shortly."

As well as these important developments, Mr West said that special attention has also been given to those bodies within his portfolio charged with providing specialist advice to him.

- a National Population Council (NPC) has been established to advise on population, immigration and settlement matters

- a Council on Overseas Professional Qualifications (COPQ) has been created to upgrade the earlier Committee and is charged with implementing the bulk of the Fry Committee Report’s recommendations

- major reviews of the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs (AIMA) have been completed. Mr West has also announced the Government's intention to amend its legislation next year to make AIMA’s objects and performance more responsive to community education needs.

"This Government's achievements in ethnic affairs and settlement are considerable and complement its initiatives in legislative reform. ” Mr West said.

CONTACT: Mr Tony Robinson (062) 733 446