We need a languages policy for the ACT

The ACT Government’s first languages policy was released in 2012 and included commitments important to Canberrans from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. These were to be implemented by 30 June 2016, and the policy itself was to be reviewed in 2015–16. Many of the commitments weren’t kept, and the policy wasn’t reviewed then or, from what I can tell, over the next two years.

This failure came without any explanation. Consequently, I have made repeated statements in the chamber urging the ACT Government to review and update its languages policy as promised. Finally, a small part of this policy was updated in October 2018, but Canberra’s CALD communities are still awaiting a review and refresh of the full policy.

Today I included this example in the ‘matter of public importance’ that I took before the Assembly. As I said at the beginning of the debate, ‘When a policy document that is important to culturally and linguistically diverse Canberrans is approaching its end date and is due for a review, it should be reviewed. If for some reason it can’t be reviewed, a good explanation should be provided. An expired policy does not communicate that this is a government that values or supports the multicultural community’. I also emphasised that CALD residents expect to be genuinely consulted on matters that directly impact them and not just dictated to.

Thirty-two per cent of Canberra’s residents are migrants, and more than half of us have at least one parent who is or was a migrant. A language other than English is spoken in nearly one-quarter of the territory’s households. It is my hope that the current ACT Government will do a better job of supporting Canberra’s culturally and linguistically diverse residents.

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