Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (21:02): My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Community Sport and Minister for Youth, the Honourable Ros Spence. This adjournment matter relates to the portfolio responsibilities of multicultural affairs. In Victoria we are making it easier for Victorians from multicultural and multifaith backgrounds to get vaccinated, with targeted support to help them access vaccinations, get to appointments and combat misinformation. Grants of up to $20 000 are available to support community organisations and neighbourhood houses to deliver activities that reduce COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and hesitancy. The local community access grants program funds community organisations and neighbourhood houses to deliver activities that will help increase the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine in priority groups. Neighbourhood houses and community organisations have been very important in making sure that diverse communities remain supported. These grants will play a vital role in helping them deliver activities which will reduce hesitancy and misinformation.
We have to make sure that the multicultural and multifaith communities of Victoria remain protected from the pandemic. Multicultural communities have faced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many multicultural-background people work in jobs which were most affected by the lockdowns. The sophisticated misinformation campaigns have also targeted the multicultural communities. It is vital to support them in every way possible. The action I seek from the minister is to provide me with an update on how the multicultural and multifaith organisations in my electorate of Western Metropolitan Region are made aware of these support programs.
Ros Spence MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs (23 Feb 2022):
The Andrews Labor Government continues to provide targeted support to multicultural and multifaith communities to access coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations, complementing the state-wide vaccination program delivered by the Department of Health. In October 2021, the Victorian Government announced the $21.6 million Partnering with Priority Communities Vaccination Initiative, which is delivering a range of initiatives providing targeted support for priority communities, including multicultural communities, to address barriers to vaccination.
As part of the initiative, the Local Community Access Grants program was launched in November 2021 providing grants of up to $20,000 to community organisations and neighbourhood houses to deliver local activities that aim to promote and increase vaccine confidence through community engagement and improve access by removing practical barriers to vaccination.
To reach a broad range of organisations across the state, including multicultural and multifaith organisations in the Western Metropolitan Region, a variety of communications and engagement channels have been used to promote the grants program. This has included direct engagement with multicultural community organisations through our dedicated WhatsApp Groups for Multicultural Community Leaders and previous grant recipients of the Priority Response to Multicultural Communities program, and through in-language community and digital radio announcements on the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council’s (NEMBC) Multilingual News Service.
This has been complemented by broad communications online through a dedicated program webpage with application resources and contact details for organisations to seek assistance in applying for a grant, as well as through a range of social media channels. Four online information sessions were delivered to prospective grant recipients to support them to apply for a grant. Information on the availability of these grants was also sent directly to more than 700 stakeholders engaged through the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing’s Extreme Hardship Support Program; Multicultural Affairs portfolio stakeholders; neighbourhood houses; and peak bodies such as the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, Victorian Council for Social Services and Youth Affairs Council Victoria.
The Andrews Labor Government will continue to provide this critical practical and targeted support to maximise vaccination uptake and ensure all Victorians can access the vaccination program and stay healthy and well.