At the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Queensland’s (ECCQ) annual Multicultural Breakfast at Parliament House held on 22 August with 172 attendees, The Hon Stirling Hinchliffe, Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs reinforced the Government’s priority to support multicultural communities through strengthening existing programs and through supporting new policies.
Attendees included 17 Members of Parliament, including five Cabinet Ministers and one Shadow Minister, government department representatives and many CEOs, General Managers and staff from the community and health sectors, community leaders, members and stakeholders.
The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe, ECCQ’s co-host, spoke at length about the Multicultural Policy and Action Plan and the Government’s priorities to strengthen inclusion in regional areas, human rights, employment pathways for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, more support for women and children from CALD backgrounds and the Government’s commitment to promote an inclusive and harmonious Queensland.
ECCQ Chairperson Alton Budd and ECCQ CEO Peter Last also spoke focusing on ECCQ’s proud history as a peak body for CALD communities and delivering culturally appropriate health education and aged care services.
Alton spoke about maintaining ECCQ’s core vision and goals, in an ever changing political and business environment.
“We believe that the changes we have made and continue to make will propel ECCQ forward as a modern non-for-profit organisation, better equipped to remain an important and vibrant leader in the community and human rights sectors.”
Alton acknowledged 2019 as a significant year for ECCQ.
“2019 is an important year for ECCQ as we also celebrate 30 years of community care service through our community care division, Diversicare.
“2019 also marks the commencement of the redevelopment of our aged care residential facility, Berlasco Court. This is the largest project undertaken by ECCQ.”
Peter also spoke more in-depth about Diversicare, its history from a small ECCQ program to a division of ECCQ employing a culturally diverse workforce in offices across Queensland.
“By 2025, it is estimated that 25% of the ageing population will be from a non-English speaking background,” he said. “It is therefore imperative that all organisations like Diversicare are recognised as vital partners to all levels of government to meet this challenge.
“By way of example, Diversicare delivers services to consumers from 40 different cultural and language backgrounds.”
At the breakfast, ECCQ launched its booklet, Diversicare, Celebrating 30 Years of Care, available to read online through ECCQ’s website.
The Hon Stirling Hinchliffe congratulated ECCQ on more than 40 years of service to Queensland’s CALD communities and congratulated Diversicare for 30 years of delivering culturally inclusive aged care.
“To reach such a wonderful milestone is a testament to the dedication of your management team and staff and reflects the growing demand for your leadership and services.”
Minister Hinchliffe announced that earlier in the week the first progress report for the Queensland Multicultural Policy and Action Plan was tabled in Parliament.
“The policy, Our Story, our future, together with the action plan set out our priorities to achieve positive outcomes for Queenslanders from culturally diverse backgrounds.”
The report sets out three priorities for the Palaszczuk Government: to be a culturally responsive government, to support inclusive, harmonious and united communities, and improve economic opportunities for all Queenslanders.
The second three-year action plan, released last month and available on the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs website, includes whole-of-government actions.
“All 30 Government agencies have committed to initiatives such as the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Racism. Stops With Me campaign, increasing diversity on State Government boards, and increasing cultural understanding of staff through training and development opportunities.”
Minister Hinchliffe acknowledged the Queensland Multicultural Ambassador Program and the Multicultural Ambassador Representatives in attendance on the morning, including ECCQ, as part of his department’s flagship Multicultural Queensland Charter promotion initiatives.
“This program has recruited more than 100 high-profile corporate, business, sporting and not-for-profit organisations – uniquely placed to promote diversity and inclusion, from the grassroots through to executive level.”
Minister Hinchliffe spoke about the Government’s priority of making regional Queensland more attractive for new arrivals, which includes programs that support Councils to engage and welcome new arrivals.
“I don’t need to tell you that making communities more attractive to migrants and refugees, often brings in new or different skills,” he said. “And increasing diversity regenerates a community, giving it greater vibrancy.”
Minister Hinchliffe spoke about the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance Program, which is providing $4.3 million dollars up to 2021 for individual, material and financial support for asylum seekers, including refugees who have been granted a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa or Temporary Protection Visa. Communify Queensland is leading this program with support from partner organisations.
“An issue close to many of our hearts and which plays on our minds is the support of our most vulnerable asylum seekers.”
The Human Rights Act 2019 will affect all government departments as they must review their work procedures and practices and make any necessary changes in accordance with the Act before 1 January 2021.
ECCQ, as part of the advocacy group, Community Service Peaks, led by QCOSS, advocated for the Act, which was introduced to the Queensland Parliament late last year.
“The Act aims to help build a culture in the Queensland Public Sector that respects and promotes human rights.
Minister Hinchliffe expressed during questions and answers after his speech that addressing unconscious bias within public sector entities will be the Act’s biggest challenge.
Minister Hinchliffe provided several example of how the Government is focusing on employment ready programs for people from CALD backgrounds, including sharing a personal story of refugee from Syria who through a Work Skills Traineeship was able to secure a job at a bakery.
The Queensland Department of Employment, Small Business and Training programs, including the Work Skills Traineeship Program and Skilling Queenslanders for Wo offer education, training and employment support to help people from CALD backgrounds gain meaningful employment.
ECCQ is funded through both programs to deliver a traineeship program, Building Australian Skills for Employment (BASE) and to deliver a Skilling Queenslanders for Work Program, Bright Futures, which offers qualifications in aged care for people from CALD backgrounds.
Minister Hinchliffe also shared success stories from the Child Safety, Youth and Women Action Plan.
“The Action Plan from the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women is making significant headway.”
Examples shared included continued funding for five years from 2017 to better meet safety and support needs for women and children from CALD backgrounds and the increased opportunities for women from CALD backgrounds participating on boards through the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards initiative.
Minister Hinchliffe also highlighted the many successful and well attended events held during Multicultural Queensland Month.
“More than 100 events are celebrating and showcasing Queensland’s cultural diversity during August and embrace the theme that We All Belong.
“There are some great highlight events this year … As well as history being made at the Ekka this year. For the first time in the Ekka’s 142-year history, the show hosted an Australian Citizenship Ceremony welcoming nearly 50 new Australians … a ceremony hosted by ECCQ.
“I am proud to be a part of a Government that is committed to promoting an inclusive, harmonious and united Queensland … a place where we all want everyone to feel like they belong.”
In his closing remarks to bring the breakfast to a close Alton expressed his appreciated to the Minister for his support and collaboration over this past year.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely together to ensure we are responding to the needs of our growing culturally diverse population in Queensland.”
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