Welcoming Multicultural Communities

Welcoming Multicultural Communities

(Question Time, 24 February 2022, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

My question is also directed to the Minister for Multiculturalism. It is a big day for him. 

The Minister for Multiculturalism is almost as popular as the Minister for Transport today. Given the importance of international students, migrant workers and international tourists to Sydney, how is the Government working with our multicultural communities to attract and welcome them to our global city?

Mr MARK COURE (OatleyMinister for Multiculturalism, and Minister for Seniors)Twice in one day. Lucky me. I thank the member for his question and for sharing my passion for multicultural communities in Sydney and across New South Wales. This week marked an extraordinary milestone for our State, as Australia's national borders were finally reopened. This is not just significant for people with aspirations of finding a new life for themselves in New South Wales, but it is also incredibly important for our multicultural communities that have family and friends living overseas. They can be reunited once more. Spending two years apart from the people we care about is a very long time.

I thank the Premier and Minister Ayres for leading the reopening of our national borders and making sure that our State is ready for it. We certainly are ready. The pandemic has had a profound impact on Sydney, as it has on many other global cities around the world. For instance, Australia's international student numbers have more than halved since the onset of the pandemic. It was a tough time for the students who stayed, many having come from countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, India, China and Indonesia. The New South Wales Government recognised this and worked to support international students while they were away from their families. In 2020 the Government pledged over $20 million for the welfare of international students.

Twenty million. This included funding for temporary crisis accommodation for those who needed it. I am proud to say that program has successfully met those needs, including temporary accommodation support for over 6,500 international students and their dependants. But our work does not end there. To ensure that people want to come to Sydney to live, work and study, they need to know that governments are here to support them and make them feel welcome. As I outlined in my earlier response to the member for East Hills, the New South Wales Government has been working really closely with our multicultural communities across the State. We will keep working with them to help attract more migrant workers, international students and international tourists to Sydney and our State.

The Government believes that supporting major cultural events and festivals is an important part of bringing people back into our city. In addition to successful major events like Vivid Sydney, there are huge upcoming cultural events that will showcase Sydney's multicultural success story to the world. An example is the upcoming Greek Festival of Sydney 2022, starting with Greek Fest at Darling Harbour on 13 March. It is one of Australia's longest‑running and most significant annual cultural events. This year marks 40 years of the Greek Festival of Sydney. I attended the launch of the festival with the member for Canterbury and the member for Rockdale. The festival's organisers acknowledged just how important the New South Wales Government's $100,000 annual funding has been for them. The Government is also proud to support other major cultural events like the City of Sydney Children's Festival, planned for June in Pyrmont, and the Bangladeshi new year festival in March. These festivals bring people together to showcase and celebrate our cultural diversity, and the Government is looking at what it can do to support even more major festivals and events in Sydney and across New South Wales.

Over the past two years, government agencies have consistently translated important public health messages. Since June, more than 2,600 public health resources have been translated into more than 60 different languages. A major focus for me has been making sure that these translations are more efficient while distributing translated materials to a wider audience. To that end, I have asked that translated materials be sent not just to members of Parliament and community leaders, but also to local councils and universities. We want them to have the latest translated information so that it is easily accessible for multicultural communities and, now that the borders are open, for international arrivals as well. This includes international students, workers and tourists. We have to do everything we can to make new arrivals feel welcome. I firmly believe that New South Wales sets an example for the rest of the world as a peaceful and harmonious multicultural society. It is my role as Minister for Multiculturalism to promote social cohesion and community harmony, so that every— [Extension of time]

Mr MARK COURE: I am getting to that. That is what the extension is for. As Minister for Multiculturalism, I am here to promote community harmony so that every community can thrive regardless of cultural background or heritage. I thank the member for Sydney for his question. We cannot take our successful multiculturalism for granted. We live in an increasingly uncertain world, and our communities are impacted by global events that we cannot control. But let me assure the House—and, in particular, the member for Sydney—that the Government will continue to proactively work with multicultural communities in New South Wales to maintain our social and community harmony.

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!