CALD Communities Taskforce | Adjournment

Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (19:31): My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Community Sport and Minister for Youth, the Honourable Ros Spence. The adjournment matter relates to the minister’s portfolio responsibilities of multicultural affairs. The Victorian Labor government has provided dedicated support to our state’s multicultural and multifaith communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to do so with the announcement of an additional $30 million package to support the communities most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the associated public health directions.

This new funding includes $12.1 million to expand the critical work of our culturally and linguistically diverse CALD Communities Taskforce to ensure multicultural Victorians can continue to access culturally appropriate emergency support and vital public health information to respond to and recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CALD funding is aimed at supporting Victoria’s multicultural communities to expand the reach of initiatives that have proven effective during the pandemic and to provide immediate support that will become more pronounced as a result of the current outbreak and lockdown. Five million dollars of the announced funding is for targeted CALD communications, translations and engagement to continue the level of activity delivered in 2020–21 to support dissemination of critical public health messaging to priority multicultural communities, and $7.1 million is a top-up for the priority response of the multicultural communities grants program for community organisations to deliver immediate emergency relief to multicultural communities, including culturally appropriate emergency food relief, and to expand support for and coordination of culturally appropriate responses at the local government level.

The action I seek from the minister is to provide me with an update on how the CALD Communities Taskforce extension will enhance the COVID-19 recovery for the CALD communities in Western Metropolitan Region.

Reply:

I thank the Member for the Western Metropolitan Region for her question and for her commitment to supporting Victoria’s multicultural communities.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has seen Victoria’s multicultural communities face complex and unprecedented challenges. Victoria is proudly multicultural, and it is important that we ensure every Victorian is engaged through our state’s social and economic recovery.

In  recognition  of  these  challenges,  the  Andrews  Labor  Government  has  committed $61.4 million since the beginning of the pandemic in dedicated support for multicultural and multifaith communities. The CALD Communities Taskforce was established in August 2020 to work in partnership with Victoria’s multicultural communities during the pandemic to help slow the spread of transmission and to support access to culturally appropriate food relief, health information and other critical outreach services.

The recently announced package of $12.1 million will continue the important work of the CALD Communities Taskforce. This includes support to multicultural communities in the Western Metropolitan Region, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

This funding builds on existing activities delivered during the pandemic, including partnerships with local governments, health providers, service providers, local bicultural workers, community health champions and community groups to improve understanding of COVIDSafe behaviours, increase access to supports, culturally appropriate emergency relief, digital literacy training for seniors, mental health and wellbeing platforms for youth and in-language health education programs to support key health messages.

A boost of $5 million for the Priority Response to Multicultural Communities (PRMC) program will continue support for community organisations and services to deliver immediate emergency relief to multicultural communities, including in the Western Metropolitan Region.

This investment builds on the success and impact of the work of the PRMC program to date, which has provided $17 million in funding for more than 330 partnerships to support over 70,000 individuals and 9,000 families to stay safe. More than 74 projects were funded across the Western Metropolitan Region to support local multicultural communities providing emergency support for at-risk communities and promoting community engagement and capacity building of local community networks and organisations to help prevent future outbreaks and support social and economic recovery.

Through the PRMC program, the CALD Communities Taskforce has partnered with a range of organisations undertaking critical work in the Western Metropolitan Region, including:

• Metro West African Community Services has supported more than 50 families to date through the provision of culturally appropriate meals, food kits and essential items, contacted 50 individuals through outreach phone calls and delivered six COVID-19 health and vaccine information sessions.

• Wyndham Park Community Centre has to date delivered 480 meals for individuals and 96 food kits to families from the Karen and Chin communities. The organisation has partnered with other local stakeholders, such as United Sikhs and Wyndham City Council, to provide ongoing support for culturally appropriate emergency relief service to the local community.

• IndianCare has supported Victoria’s South Asian community members to access emergency relief services through provision of culturally appropriate, in-language welfare phone check-ins to community during the pandemic, and supported referrals of individuals to other supports and services including additional emergency relief, medical and mental health services, and job and employment opportunities.

The Andrews Labor Government is deeply grateful to all organisations in the Western Metropolitan Region and across the state for their commitment to engaging and supporting Victoria’s multicultural and multifaith communities throughout this challenging time.