Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (12:42): (1527) My constituency question is directed to the Minister for Education, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers and Deputy Premier, the Honourable James Merlino. My question relates to the portfolio responsibilities of education.
The Victorian government is supporting children arriving in Victoria with low levels of English. The children will be supported to learn English and integrate into mainstream schools with the assistance of English as an additional language, EAL, teachers and multicultural education aides. Newly arrived EAL students can access intensive English language programs provided by an English language school or centre or the Victorian School of Languages through the new arrivals program across the government school system.
My question to the minister is: can the minister please provide me with an update on how children with low-level English in the Western Metropolitan Region can take advantage of this great initiative?
The Victorian budget 2021–22 invested $25.2 million in continued support for government students who do not speak English at home to ensure they have the same opportunities as native English speakers.
James Merlino MP, Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Minister for Mental Health (17 December 2021):
I thank the Member for Western Metropolitan Region for her question.
The Andrews Labor Government proudly supports families with students who are new arrivals to Victoria.
Children in the western metropolitan regions of Melbourne have access to intensive English language programs provided by the Western English Language School, which has campuses in Braybrook, Footscray, Wyndham and Manor Lakes, and provides a virtual program to support students in the Melton area. In 2022 a bus service will support students from the St Albans area to travel to the Braybrook campus.
In addition, any student who is enrolled in a primary or secondary school more than 15 kilometres from one of these face-to-face programs is eligible to enrol in the Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program provided by the Victorian School of Languages.
If a family chooses not to enrol their children in an intensive English language program, the children will be supported in their language learning in their mainstream school through funding provided for the employment of English as an Additional Language Specialist teachers and Multicultural Education Aides.
I trust this information is of assistance for constituents in the Western Metropolitan Region.