Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 August 2021) . . Page.. 2325 ..
Any review of funding also needs to consider the long-term sustainable and adequate resourcing of the sector. This may be through in-kind services or direct funding. Another challenge which is a perennial for my electorate is access to community spaces. The ACT Community Language Schools Association, an umbrella group, currently rents ACT government properties to hold classes, while relying on some block and per head funding to carry on the operations of the association and members schools.
The issue of insufficient funds and uncertain tenure over classrooms is causing great distress to this essential community service. Twelve language schools are facing closure because the government schools that host them do not wish to renew the contract. Nine of them are in my home turf of Gungahlin—just when you thought I was going to get through another speech without mentioning the G word. As the president of the ACT language schools association, Dr Fuxin Li, has stated, we need stability and certainty of a place to belong. For this reason, our motion calls on the ACT government to ensure the status and stability of Canberra’s community language schools by securing long-term affordable access to suitable venues in which to hold their after-hours classes.
Finally, but not least, community organisations have also requested greater support for recognised professional development for their volunteers. This is not only to improve the quality of training and teaching that they deliver to their community but also to reward those volunteers who have a transferable skill and qualification. We commend this call to the government.
In closing, for those communities to maintain their identity, culture and language, it is not something that can be done by only one day at the Multicultural Festival. It takes a continuous investment of time, energy and resources over the course of a year. Community leaders and volunteers, in addition to the challenges of living their daily lives in a foreign culture, freely and with great charity invest large quantities of time and energy to members of their community. I call on the government to provide the enablers to help them maintain their languages and their cultural heritage, and that these groups be included and supported to actively engage in ACT government decision-making and democratic processes.
MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (4.17): I thank Mr Braddock for bringing this motion for discussion today. It clearly raises the need for an update to the support that community language schools are given by the government and to modernise the government’s approach, to bring us more in line with neighbouring states. Mr Braddock mentioned the social contract and it goes to the very heart of government that we are able to facilitate the outcomes that we want to see in the community.
At the outset, let me say that the issues raised include the settling process of new Australians into our city; the continuation of culture of the country of origin in people as they settle into being Australian; the navigation of government services and the needs that newer Australians will have to access the breadth of services that are