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Government committed to nurturing multicultural society.

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Gary Hardgrave MP Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs

Media Release H68/03 - 23 MAY 2003

Government Committed to Nurturing Multicultural Society

The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Gary Hardgrave, said today that the Government's commitment to Australia's multicultural and inclusive society has been demonstrated by the Federal Budget's $3.3m financial commitment to a new multicultural policy.

"The new policy, Multicultural Australia: United in Diversity, places increased emphasis on the importance of community harmony, which is particularly important in the current international climate," Mr Hardgrave said.

"In this context, community harmony and social cohesion are pivotal elements in enabling Australia to contribute effectively to the international effort to combat terrorism, and in safeguarding Australians.

"The Government believes firmly that Australian multicultural policy provides a framework of national unity and a coherent ethos for a diverse Australia at a time of conflict, as well as in times of peace. National security begins with domestic community harmony," Mr Hardgrave said.

Speaking at a media briefing in Melbourne on the Government's Multicultural Policy Statement, Mr Hardgrave said the Government would continue to promote community harmony and social cohesion through numerous avenues.

"We will work closely with a range of individuals, and community, business and government organisations, in condemning actions and statements which threaten community harmony.

"We will continue to promote acceptance and understanding among all Australians for all Australians," Mr Hardgrave said.

"Religious leaders should be commended for their positive example of working together to promote intelligent and respectful discussion, through initiatives such as the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews (ANDCMJ).

"The Government is also committed to promoting the economic benefits that can be derived by capitalising on Australia's wealth of cultural and linguistic skills, and through the social and business networks of Australia's migrants," Mr Hardgrave said.

The Minister said that the government had also made a multi-million dollar commitment to targeted settlement services for new arrivals. These services include English language tuition, interpreting and translating assistance, counselling, information and referral services and targeted programs for refugees and humanitarian entrants.

"Providing such services is a worthy investment in their successful future in Australia and has contributed to our building of a strong, unified nation," Mr Hardgrave said.

23 May 2003

Media contact: Amanda Lynch 0419 123 862