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Community Services and Ministerial Priorities

Thank you, Madam Speaker, and I wish to thank the minister for providing us with a statement of his priorities.

I note that in addressing community services and facilities, the minister mentioned the need to improve availability of space for events … meetings and other community activities. He also mentioned ensuring ‘fair access to community facilities across the city’.

In addressing multicultural affairs, the minister also mentioned the need to make sure that migrant and multicultural communities feel included and welcomed and that they have a sense of belonging.

Those two priorities blend perfectly together in an issue that I raised in this chamber in February. I had been informed that policies for booking the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre were changed this year. Community groups that have long held regular events at the centre – including weekly language classes and weekly events for seniors with language barriers – have been told that they are now limited to using the function room only twice a month. In addition, a new charge has been placed on using the centre’s kitchen, where previously this was included in a booking.

Community groups, however, claim that they were not consulted on this matter and were caught unawares by these changes. This causes friction and hurt feelings, not to mention creates logistical problems for community organisations that are fully staffed by volunteers and feel unsupported by this government, even when their activities help to fulfil stated government priorities. To my knowledge, this concern has not been resolved yet.

I wish to remind Mr Steel and this Assembly that in order to make migrant and multicultural communities feel welcomed and included, this government must include them in consultations that impact them, increase the availability of community facilities, and ensure that access to such facilities is fair. Thank you.

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