12 June 2018: The Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland (ECCQ) said yesterday’s State Budget is a missed opportunity to invest more in people and communities, though acknowledges positive investment in jobs, healthcare and migrant resettlement programs.
ECCQ Chairperson Alton Budd says this budget missed an opportunity to invest more in multicultural affairs, as this budget does not do enough to meet the government’s commitment to create a more inclusive and cohesive Queensland.
Mr Budd acknowledges investment in migrant resettlement programs, specifically, the $1.8 million allocated this year for the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance program.
“I congratulate the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Hon Stirling Hinchliffe, on this budget announcement and for his continued commitment to promote the benefits of multiculturalism.” he said.
ECCQ advocates for further investment to implement action plans for the Human Rights Act 2019 which comes into force on 1 July 2019. The Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) will replace the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland. ECCQ welcomes the strategic vision of the QHRC to promote a strong human rights culture and good government decision making.
ECCQ welcomes the QHRC’s focus on engaging with and educating all Queenslanders, organisations and businesses on new legislation, assisting communities to build capacity to protect human rights and the addition of legal staff to respond to complaints.
“Protecting human rights is a priority for ECCQ and our members; we look forward to collaborating with government and stakeholders to support the vision, functions and objectives of the QHRC,” said Mr Budd.
ECCQ also acknowledges the emphasis on jobs, with increased investment in the Skilling Queenslanders for Work and Back to Work programs. These programs have been pivotal for job seekers from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds to access training programs and employment opportunities.
“These programs provide opportunities to promote participation for all Queenslanders,” said Mr Budd. “We have seen first-hand how these programs increase economic and social participation for people from CALD backgrounds.”
ECCQ also supports the continued emphasis on health, including continued focus on boosting frontline health jobs, investment in existing and new health facilities, community health, research and services to meet the needs of Queensland’s ageing population.
ECCQ commends the government on the allocation of $158.6 million to establish the Health and Wellbeing Queensland statutory health promotion agency to tackle obesity and chronic disease rates.
Australia is one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world with more than one-quarter (26 percent) of Australians born overseas, and 19 percent born in countries where English is not the first language (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017). There is a disproportionate burden of chronic disease among some CALD communities in Australia.
“ECCQ is part of the Healthier Queensland Alliance tacking obesity and chronic disease pandemic and we look forward to working closely with Health and Wellbeing Queensland to implement what is needed to support Queenslanders from CALD backgrounds,” said Mr Budd.
“It is important that we invest in programs that ensure all Queenslanders can make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing, access appropriate services and receive support to manage existing conditions.”
ECCQ welcomes continued investment in services and support for Queenslanders with disability post-NDIS; however, continues to advocate for funding to build capacity of people with disability from CALD backgrounds to access NDIS.
“We must ensure that every Queenslander who is eligible is given the opportunity to benefit from the NDIS,” said Mr Budd. “The September quarter NDIA report shows that participation in Queensland is far lower than anticipated. Resources are needed to reach disadvantaged, hard to reach groups, particularly people from CALD backgrounds.”
ECCQ welcomes the continued commitment to respond to elder abuse and programs that provide independent and vital information for seniors including services and aged care services.
“ECCQ welcomes programs that support older Australians, particularly, when it comes to making difficult and necessary decisions about aged care,” said Mr Budd. “By 2025, 25 percent of the ageing population will be from a CALD background, so programs need to reflect that.
“We look forward to working with the government and our stakeholders and members to continue to develop and deliver programs and services to facilitate a more inclusive Queensland.”
ECCQ acknowledges the allocated budgets:
· $80 million in 2019–20 as part of a $420 million, six-year commitment to the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program$1.8 million in 2019-20 as part of 4.3 million over three years to support asylum seeker and refugee programs
· $1.5 million per annum recurrently from 2019-20 for community connect workers in neighbourhood centres
· $2 billion over four years to support the ongoing growth in demand for health services and health infrastructure.
· $37.7 million in 2019-20 and $158.6 million over four years to establish the Health and Wellbeing Queensland statutory health promotion agency to tackle obesity and chronic disease rates
· $3.5 million allocation for Seniors Legal and Support Services
· $8.7 million over two years to 2020-21 for disability advocacy services
· $10.9 million additional funding for complaints and investigations, coordination of state disability planning, and continued support for peak bodies and Guide Dogs
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