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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1813

Ms KATE ELLIS (Adelaide) (10:19): I am proud to represent a community that is both diverse and multicultural, in beautiful Adelaide. I know that it is the responsibility of all members of parliament, and indeed all levels of government, to make sure that these communities settle well and have appropriate access to services and support. That is in the best interests of all in the Adelaide community. I was incredibly proud that we were able to announce a number of grants for Adelaide multicultural groups, under the Building Multicultural Communities Program—a program which was fully budgeted and not subject to election promises; it was a government announcement. I had great pleasure to go and speak directly with community leaders in Adelaide to tell them that their hard work had paid off, that they had been successful and that many projects which had been in the pipeline for a long period of time would finally be able to take place. Unfortunately, we saw with the election of the Abbott government that the overwhelming majority of those programs have now been halted and those grants have been taken off the multicultural communities to which they were granted, often leaving them with some expense that they had already incurred.

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to visit the Middle Eastern Communities Council of South Australia with the shadow minister for citizenship and multiculturalism, Michelle Rowland. This community group had a grant of $100,000 given to them, which was then cut by the Abbott government. The $100,000 was for the upgrade of their community hall—a community hall that was providing services to an ever-growing number of people in Adelaide. I know, particularly in my electorate of Adelaide, that we have a rapidly growing Afghan community, who offer much to their local community and whom we would like to be able to support with the kinds of facilities and resources they need.

We met with the manager of the Middle Eastern Communities Council, Mr Hussain Razaiat, and he told us how, when he had gone to the hundreds of people in the Middle Eastern community who had been told of the success of that grant, he felt personally embarrassed. As their community leader, he felt that he had failed them somehow by not being able to go through with this project and get access to the funding to upgrade the community hall. I want to make it very clear to that community and indeed to this parliament that it is not Hussain—it is not any of the community leaders—who has let down the Middle Eastern community in South Australia; it is the Abbott government, and solely the Abbott government. They cut a program which we know saves government money. When we invest in community leaders to get out there to support people to invest in aged care facilities and community support we all win. (Time expired)