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Thursday, 23 August 2018
Page: 5677

Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (12:11): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum relating to the bill.

Leave granted.

Senator DI NATALE: I table an explanatory memorandum and I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Australian Multicultural Bill 2018 (the bill) will enshrine the principles of diversity and multiculturalism in federal legislation. Enshrining the principles of multiculturalism in law is consistent with state legislation and ensures multilateral and ongoing support for multiculturalism.

The bill establishes a federal multicultural commission, to be named the Australian Multicultural Commission (the commission). The commission will provide a single coordination point for integrated responses to the government on issues associated with cultural diversity.

The commission will also have responsibility for researching, reporting and making recommendations to the Minister on community issues relating to its objectives, as well as developing and maintaining partnerships between community organisations.

In addition to establishing the commission, the bill stipulates annual reporting requirements for Commonwealth entities. These include:

summaries of actions undertaken by the entity during the reporting period to promote the achievement of Australia's multicultural policy;

the use of interpreting and translating services by the entity during that period; and

communications in languages other than English made by the entity during that period.

Other reporting requirements would include the extent to which people from diverse backgrounds were represented during the period on boards and committees established by the entity, or for which the entity had responsibility. It would also include the collection of statistical data during the period to enable the development of policies, programs and practices that are sensitive and responsive to the multicultural character of Australia.

Independent research tells us that individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds face a series of structural barriers, both in the workplace and when accessing a range of services. This includes, but is not limited to:

representation of culturally diverse individuals in positions of leadership;

language barriers when accessing essential services; and

participating in programs and services which have been designed in a manner which is not culturally sensitive to the practices or needs of multicultural Australia.

The bill plays a role in addressing the structural barriers which multicultural communities face, while embedding the value of multiculturalism in federal legislation. Enshrining in legislation clear guiding principles, and the steps that Commonwealth entities must take to promote multiculturalism, will provide greater protection for these values, regardless of which political party is in Government.

Senator DI NATALE: I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.