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Members statement: Multicultural communities

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
8 June 2021

We are lucky in Victoria to have such a rich and vibrant multicultural community. I was pleased to host a meeting with representatives from some of our largest culturally diverse communities last week to hear about the issues their communities are facing and the support they need in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. These organisations included the Boîte, Shakti Inc., APC Youth, Settlement Services International, Oorja Foundation, Bhutanese Community in Australia, South Asian Community Link Group-Australasia, South Asian Women Network and Allies, the Humanism Project, Community Network for Disadvantaged People Inc. and many distinguished community leaders.

We heard from these communities about the resilience they have demonstrated and the generous support they have provided each other, from delivering meals to those in need to providing emotional support, particularly to those who became increasingly isolated throughout the year. We heard that isolation affected many of their elderly community members, who were less able to move their social activities online and continue to experience the prolonged effects of some of the restrictions we endure.

There remains deep concern about international students who remain in Australia, who were abandoned by the federal government, with no income support. They also spoke about mental health and family violence remaining growing concerns for these communities, and many participants asked for help to advocate at all levels of government for more culturally specific mental health and family violence support services. They also wanted governments to work with them as partners in the continuing public health response. There was frustration that some public health materials were still not being translated into certain languages, and this made worse some concern and vaccine hesitancy that were emerging. At times like this it is important to remember that our multicultural communities are strong and resilient but need more support.

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
8 June 2021
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