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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 August 2021) . . Page.. 2329 ..

“(d) newer Australians who have not learned fluent English do not always have the opportunity to do so due to family dynamic and circumstances. This has also been impacted by some English language programs being suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic; and”.

2. After paragraph (3)(d), insert new paragraph (3)(da):

“(da) to analyse the current provision, and uptake by non-English speakers, of English classes and conversation groups and investigate the current provision of auxiliary childcare alongside English language classes available in the ACT; and”.

3. In paragraph (3)(e), omit “June 2022”, substitute “August 2022”.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (4.28): I am very pleased to speak to the motion and to the amendment as circulated today. Mr Braddock’s motion speaks to the indispensable contribution of the multicultural community to our city, and the ACT government could not agree more with its sentiment. I particularly want to speak to the references in the motion to language and the integral role of language in cultural sharing and retention.

We proudly recognise and celebrate the linguistic diversity of our multicultural communities here in the ACT. Over 170 different languages are spoken in the ACT, with the 2016 census showing 23.8 per cent of ACT households spoke a language other than English. That is an increase from 2011, when it was 21.1 per cent of households, and of course we look forward to the results from the upcoming census. There are over 12,000 Mandarin speakers, over 4,000 Vietnamese speakers, and around 3,500 speakers of Hindi and of Spanish in the ACT.

Linguistic diversity is a key pillar of multiculturalism. And it plays a crucial role in the development of personal, social, and cultural identity, which I think Mrs Jones highlighted particularly well. A strong foundation and familiarity in a child’s mother tongue allows for a deeper understanding of themselves and their community and an increased sense of wellbeing and of confidence.

I am pleased that the ACT government has been working closely with the ACT Community Language Schools Association. Since 2012, the government has provided annual funding grants to over 40 ACT community language schools. As others have noted, the current ACT government investment in community languages schools is over $275,000 annually. The grant program provides a per-student grant to all eligible schools and provides supplementary funding to playgroups and smaller operations to assist with running costs.

Under the second action plan of the ACT multicultural framework 2015-20 the ACT government committed to undertake an independent review of the investment in community language schools in the ACT. The purpose of the review was to ensure the ACT government continues to meet the needs of the Canberra community and that

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