Legislative Council: Thursday, October 19, 2023


Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.S. Lee:

That this council—

1. Recognises that the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia (MCCSA) has been supporting migrant communities and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds since it was established in 1995 but that its roots stretch back to the 1970s;

2. Acknowledges that MCCSA now represents 120 multicultural organisations and delivers a wide range of programs to increase the capacity of its member organisations and advocate for the needs and aspirations of CALD organisations, communities, and individuals;

3. Notes that MCCSA is the multicultural coordinating partner for the Department of Human Services Community Connection Program and supports people from new and emerging communities to increase their independence and build stronger social and community connections; and

4. Notes the significant positive impact that MCCSA has made towards building social cohesion and enhancing multiculturalism and interculturalism in South Australia.

(Continued from 4 May 2023.)

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (17:19): I will speak briefly on this motion to say that overwhelmingly I endorse the motion that has been brought to the chamber, and I thank the member for the motion and also for her relentless ongoing advocacy for the multicultural community in South Australia. We know that the Multicultural Communities Council has a very long history of doing enormously beneficial work in the community. Even though it goes back to 1995, we know that there was initial work done in the 1970s with a lot of migrant communities.

What is happening in the world today, particularly with the situation in the Ukraine, with the war there, and the fact that Australia has so many of those refugees living here now, just emphasises the need to have organisations such as this available to those people, and that when they need assistance, help, guidance and direction, we actually have a council like this that helps people who may be grappling with the fact that English may not be their second language, or they are not able to communicate effectively and do not know where to go.

The fact that we have an organisation like this, and that it continues to grow and is getting stronger in its advocacy, is a credit to South Australia and the support that it provides. As I said, even though it goes back to the seventies, it was quite clear that after the postwar migration from Europe, particularly from southern European countries—countries like Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Malta, all those countries—when those migrants came to Australia, many of them only had a small bag or a suitcase, could barely speak a word of English, had no idea what sort of support or assistance they could get once they got off the ship, or if they were fortunate enough to get off a plane, and then to also be in a position to be able to find accommodation, to find other means of support, and to interact with their communities.

Those migrants of the 1950s and 1960s did not actually have the benefit of having an organisation such as this. I talk from my own personal experience with my parents who came here and also our relatives. There were few areas for them to turn to in order to get some support or guidance and generally it was done collectively. Fortunately, these communities did start to work collectively and form organisations such as this that have assisted many thousands of migrants to this country, migrants who because of that assistance have also helped to make this state and this country stronger and better for it. I commend the motion to the chamber and I thank the member for her advocacy in bringing this forward.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (17:22): As the peak body for multicultural communities in South Australia, the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia has a depth of experience working with diverse multicultural organisations and the sector. On behalf of the government, I want to thank Mrs Miriam Cocking, Dr Ian Harmstorf OAM, Ms Helena Kyriazopoulos OAM, and the council's board, staff and volunteers for their ongoing commitment to empowering our multicultural communities across South Australia.

I commend the time, the energy and the support that they have provided and devoted to the MCCSA and to our multicultural sector more broadly. Through the council's culturally responsive and inclusive programs, community engagement and advocacy, they continue to make a profound contribution and impact across our diverse multicultural community. The Multicultural Communities Council is renowned for its ability to build trusting relationships with our multicultural community and to successfully collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders, both here and across the country to inform their work. The council has contributed to the quality and vibrancy of our proud multicultural state. On behalf of the South Australian government, I acknowledge their efforts with gratitude.

The state government has been pleased to provide funding to the MCCSA over many years to support their operations, programs and dynamic initiatives. I hope that we can all acknowledge that whatever the differences in our cultural backgrounds, our ethnicity or our faith, South Australia's multicultural community has always been one of our biggest assets. That is why our government allocated an additional $16 million of investment over four years from 2022-23 for grants and other programs that will enrich our multicultural sector, because we know that diversity is something that should be celebrated.

It is organisations such as the MCCSA that allow people to realise their full potential. The state government has recently engaged with them to deliver our community boards and governance program, which will offer multicultural community organisations support and coaching for their governance needs that they identify on their boards within their governance structures and in their procedures and practices.

We are certain that through the council's delivery of this program, our multicultural community organisations will gain the tools they need to forge even stronger networks for stakeholders, including government. I have no doubt that this chamber is incredibly appreciative of the important role of the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia, its passionate staff and its dedicated volunteers. This fantastic organisation will continue to play a key role in enabling our multicultural communities to play an active role in our society and our economy. I commend the motion to the chamber.

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (17:25): First of all, I would like to thank the Hon. Frank Pangallo for his personal reflections. I am sure his sincere, moving contributions will also be much appreciated by the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the minister for her contribution and support for MCCSA. I think that her remarks will also be much appreciated by the organisation. I commend the motion.

Motion carried.