The Canberra Multicultural Community Forum has welcomed the Labor Party’s promise to commit $800,000 over four years towards supporting multiculturalism in the city, including funding for language education, more services for vulnerable young people, improved community representation and additional housing for refugees and other new arrivals.

CMCF Chair Sam Wong said that while Canberra is recognised as one of the most harmonious multicultural societies in the world, it is a reputation that must continually be nurtured and maintained.

“Thankfully we have travelled a long way from the isolationist White Australia policies of the 1950s and 60s, but we can’t afford to be standing still and congratulating ourselves,” he said.

Mr Wong said he was particularly pleased with the additional $100,000 promised for community language schools in the ACT. “The multicultural community has clearly demonstrated it can help itself with the setting up of these schools which play an invaluable role in connecting migrants, their children and grandchildren with the cultures from which they sprang,” he said.

“We are also delighted with the promise of an additional $200,000 to help migrants and refugees take their place in the Canberra community. Many of these people come here having suffered terrible experiences; are traumatised and have to literally learn to live normal lives again.

“Once they understand they are now in a caring community, free from the threat of violence and intimidation, they can move on to learn language and other skills that will make them valuable members of the Canberra family.”

He said that cross-cultural training for aged care workers and other service providers and the translation of information about aged-care services and providers are not huge budget items but were identified as problems needing solutions at the recent ACT Multicultural Summit.

“It is also gratifying that the government chose to recognise the role CMCF plays in the preamble to its multicultural policy,” Mr Wong said.

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