Multicultural leaders attended a political forum in the impressive Legislative Council Chamber at Victoria’s Parliament on Wednesday, June 7.
The Victorian Liberal Leader and Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs, John Pesutto MP, invited these representatives of different local ethnic communities to the forum to engage with and discuss a number of issues they face today.
Nationals Leader Peter Walsh alongside the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Georgie Crozier were also present, as were the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Trung Luu and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, David Southwick.
In the room there were also representatives of different multicultural communities from the Somalian to the Lebanese, Chinese and the Greek community.
Mr Pesutto welcomed everyone on the day and said: “This is a very important opportunity to engage with you and we want this to be the first of a series of ongoing dialogues with you as a group.”
The Victorian Liberal leader talked about the importance of real, genuine consultation with community leaders to make sure that policies are meeting the demands and challenges those communities face.
The first topic discussed was the importance of education among immigrants, a value which is increasingly out of reach for many, and in particular for children. It was mentioned that: “kindergarten education should be free because it hits hard on the migrant population.”
From skilled migrants to visa issues, the current housing crisis, and the need for more multicultural candidate representation in politics – many topics were discussed.
The need for better resources and more funds to go towards multicultural communities was also stressed in order to try to affect long term change in very important social issues such as mental health or family violence.
“We see that a lot of funding comes from the state or the federal areas or departments and governments, but it doesn’t filter down to the grassroots. Most of our organisations actually work at the grassroots level,” a multicultural leader said.
Finally, some also mentioned the need for increased representation of the multicultural community particularly in frontline services, whether that was policing, health or even teaching.
In the end, the representatives in attendance thanked the Liberals and Nationals for the opportunity to speak about important issues facing Victoria’s multicultural communities today.