‘ Dominello introduced bill to strengthen social cohesion’

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Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello  has  introduced legislation to strengthen social cohesion by enabling Multicultural NSW to play a greater role in promoting the beliefs and values which unite us all as Australians.

Dominello said the amendments to the Community Relations Commission and Principles of Multiculturalism Act 2000 set out a new vision to promote our State’s cultural diversity as an economic and social asset.

“Multicultural NSW will continue to be a robust agency with statutory independence under section 6 of the Act,” he said.

The Bill enhances multicultural practice by:

  • Including a definition of ‘commitment to Australia’ which focuses on common values and beliefs, such as our volunteering ethos, participation in Australian national days and events and recognition of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage;
  • Strengthening social cohesion through a strong focus on citizenship, mutual obligation and respect;
  • Changing the name of the Community Relations Commission to Multicultural NSW – bringing it in line with agencies in other states, for example Multicultural SA and the Victorian Multicultural Commission; and
  • Amending the definition of cultural diversity to include ‘ancestral background’ and removing reference to ‘racial and ethnic backgrounds’.

The Bill enhances the functions of the agency by:

  • Including in its objectives a focus on initiatives to combat racism, empower multicultural women and girls and increase participation in volunteering;
  • Makes specific reference to the Multicultural Policies and Services Program – which holds government agencies to account and promotes better performance in service delivery for culturally and linguistically communities; and
  • Reflects the new governance structure with a full-time Chief Executive Officer as head of the agency and a part-time Chair of the Advisory Board.

“This legislation gives effect to Multicultural NSW’s strategic plan, Harmony in Action, which significantly enhances its capacity for community engagement, research and policy development.

“It is part of broader reforms to multicultural practice in NSW, which includes the appointment of a new skills-based Advisory Board and an enhanced $1.6 million grants program, with increased funding and simplified application guidelines.

“The new 12-member Advisory Board includes representatives from across Anglo-Celtic, Aboriginal, Indian, Korean, Jewish, Chinese and many other backgrounds – all of whom have been appointed based on their unique professional skills and knowledge.

“They bring expertise in areas such as law, finance, sports administration, marketing, disability support, refugee advocacy, youth issues and women’s health.

“Over the past 30 years our State has welcomed over one million migrants, transforming our society into one of the most culturally diverse in the world.

“Our diversity is one of our greatest assets and we need Multicultural NSW to be innovative and forward thinking in setting policies to promote it.

“These reforms are about ensuring NSW continues to be a leader in multicultural practice, both in Australia and internationally,”  Dominello said.

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