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Hansard ID: HANSARD-1323879322-122867

Hansard session: Fifty-Seventh Parliament, First Session (57-1)


Ms WENDY LINDSAY (East Hills) (14:45:13):

My question is addressed to the Minister for Multiculturalism. Will the Minister update the House on how the Government is supporting and delivering for multicultural communities across the State?

Mr MARK COURE (Oatley Minister for Multiculturalism, and Minister for Seniors) (14:46:03):

— Not that I am counting, but it has been 3,500 days since I was first elected to this place and, finally, I have been asked my first question. You never forget your first time—question. I thank the member for East Hills for her question. I know how hard she works in her multicultural communities. Over 44 per cent of people living in her electorate speak a language other than English, which is a great reflection of the diverse make-up of many of her communities.

I am sure we can all agree that New South Wales has a brilliant multicultural story, which has led our State to becoming the multicultural capital of not just Australia but the world. We are home to over 300 different cultures, speak more than 275 languages and practise 144 different religions. Regardless of background or the language we speak, we live well together. It is what our great State has to offer that draws people to visit, work and live here. New arrivals see our State's values and opportunities for themselves and their families. They arrive in Australia for a new beginning, for hope and for opportunity. More importantly, we recognise the great value and contributions that they bring to our State.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge how challenging the past two years have been for multicultural communities across the State. They have had it tough but, thanks to the partnership between our Government and multicultural leaders, we have been able to work together through these challenges. Through meaningful partnerships with local leaders, the Government can truly help communities. We have allocated a record $54.7 million to support vulnerable people and multicultural communities experiencing hardship. More than $38 million went directly to grassroots multicultural groups. This funding has enabled those organisations to support people, while also getting out important health advice.

I recently visited the NSW Council of Pacific Communities in Minto, led by a fantastic individual, Mal Fruen. By working in partnership, we have helped provide COVID-19 information packs, distribute food hampers, establish local vaccination hubs and provide HOPE toolkits, which I was proud to launch recently. This is just one of 750 examples where the New South Wales Government has empowered community organisations to better support their communities. By working together, we are delivering meaningful outcomes. While we have worked through many challenges presented by the pandemic, we are still powering on, supporting and delivering for multicultural communities. A key focus for me as Minister for Multiculturalism has been bringing together multicultural and religious leaders and multicultural media to hear their concerns and relay important information. This has included hosting weekly multicultural leader and press forums, and I have really valued the continued engagement in these forums.

Again, I say a big thank you to all of the multicultural leaders and media outlets that have worked with us to keep people safe across New South Wales. Earlier this week, I announced additional funding for festivals and events through the Multicultural NSW Stronger Together Grants Program. More than $545,000 has been allocated to over 50 community groups to host multicultural festivals and events across the State. Each of these events is about bringing people together and celebrating our State's wonderful multicultural communities. We have already seen Lunar New Year festivals and refugee awareness programs delivered.

I have visited many of these organisations over the past six weeks, including the Australian Korean Association of Sydney & NSW and the Friends of India Australia, which are both located in Strathfield, but it does not end there. Many more events are scheduled to take place. These are just some of the more than 50 events that our Government is supporting to help bring people together, and they are important to help us reconnect and celebrate who we are after the past two years. Our Government is getting on with the job of supporting and delivering for multicultural communities right across New South Wales.