Instead of demonising new migrants in Australia, a Shorten Labor Government will support and invest in their settlement.

Last month, Labor announced that a Shorten Labor Government will establish an Office for Multicultural Affairs (OMA) to improve coordination; policy development, research and evaluation; and program management in this important area.  The first task of the OMA will be to implement a Community Cohesion Program, to support the skills and development of new migrants to successfully settle in Australia.

This $28.5 million investment will fund improvements in the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP), Community Hubs and the ‘Racism. It Stops With Me Campaign’.

The Community Cohesion Program builds on Labor’s Advancing Australian Multiculturalism package announced last month.

Labor knows the most important factor in successful settlement is English proficiency. Supporting new migrants to learn English, with a focus on workforce participation, underpins social cohesion and economic inclusion.

This is in stark contrast to the Abbott-Turnbull Government which has overseen a bureaucratic nightmare for the AMEP, as it shifted from the Department of Immigration, to the Department of Industry and finally to the Department of Education and Training.

The $24 million investment in the AMEP will support new courses in workforce participation and gauge the demand for future citizens to learn English on arrival in Australia, rather than waiting years.

Labor will also provide an additional $3 million for the Community Hubs program.

Community Hubs provide activities to help settlement in local communities.  These include mother and child English language classes, playgroups, parenting support groups, homework clubs, links to settlement support as well as mainstream health and education services.

Labor will work with local communities and other interested stakeholders to determine the priorities for additional Hubs and increased resources.

The final element of Labor’s Community Cohesion Program is $1.5 million towards the Australian Human Rights Commission to continue and improve the ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ campaign. We know this program works and combating racism is a critical part of promoting social cohesion.

This funding will help build the campaign, increase the number of partnership organisations and explore new strategies on how best to tackle discrimination and racism.

Malcolm Turnbull should tell multicultural communities why he supported slashing the Building Multicultural Communities program, one of the first acts of the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

He should say whether he supports the numerous members of his backbench who continue their advocacy to undermine the Racial Discrimination Act. Bill Shorten and Labor don’t believe anyone has the right to be a bigot.

Instead of asking migrant support organisations to do more with less, Labor will provide the investments required.  Unlike the Liberals, Labor has put forward a detailed plan to provide support for practical social cohesion and economic inclusion.

For more information on Labor’s policy please visit

FRIDAY, 10 JUNE 2016