Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 August 2015) . . Page.. 2618 ..
younger age after having arrived in the ACT from overseas is that there is a high expectation of them to look after children. We do not have a lot of places in English classes that have child care attached. It is another hurdle for women to jump over to access these classes.
Many new migrant women are busy caring for their children and family. They are often on very limited incomes, with only the husband working to support the whole household. When they have no extended family or community ties they often do not have a support network to help them with child care. Culturally and linguistically diverse women really need the English language classes and if they cannot find childcare solutions then they will forgo their needs for those of their children.
Limited child care is a key reason why women who are not able to access English language classes then are not able to access all that Canberra and Australia have to offer them. Last year I asked Minister Burch to help these women to fully benefit from our society by providing more child care at English language courses, and I do not believe anything was done.
According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection annual publication Migration to Australia’s states and territories, we know that over 50per cent of those who have been settled in Canberra, either as a refugee or as part of a special humanitarian program, are from Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan—cultures that place very high regard on the at-home mother.
We now have a new minister in Minister Berry, to whom I now appeal to do something about improving the number of childcare places available to women who need to learn English. We do not want them to have to wait until their children are off their hands or, as in many cases, until they are in their 60s, when all their family responsibilities are more or less over, for them to be able to learn English and engage fully in society.
There is an added element to the need to have women speaking English as soon as possible after arriving in Australia, because if they are suffering in a situation of domestic violence or an unhappy relationship they may or may not be able to access the government services that are there to support them if they need to leave.
Other areas that are of concern within the Office of Multicultural Affairs are the budget and expenditure for the Multicultural Festival and other projects and services provided by the office. I hope the festival, which was started under the last Liberal government, will continue to remain strong. That is a matter that I am sure we all agree on.
I have asked about the over-commercialisation of the festival and whether it is in fact pushing cultural groups to stalls on the edges of the festival or even pushing them out altogether. I appeal to the minister to be a bit more up-front on what budget is being spent on it and on whether it is reaching those who genuinely need it.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning, Minister for Roads and Parking, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister for Children and Young People and Minister for Ageing) (5.12): I will return to the area