Housing and language are top barriers

Housing and language are top barriers SydWest Multicultural Services CEO Elfa Moraitakis, Relationships Australia NSW manager June Brooks, NSW senate candidate Jagath Bandara, Member for Greenway Michelle Rowland, Shadow Minister for Immigration Richard Marles and Macquarie Community College CEO Theresa Collignon.

TweetFacebook Labor politicians visit Macquarie Community CollegePictures: Harrison VeseyEstablished and aspiringpoliticians visited Blacktown’s migrant services last week as the Australian Labor Party attempts to win migrant voters in the marginal seat of Greenway.

Blacktown is home to a significant and growing migrant population, comprised of people from more than 50 nationalities and speaking 147languages.Many of those migrants access language services at Macquarie Community College (MCC)in Blacktown, Mount Druitt and Ermington.

“One of our biggest challenges is getting students meaningful work experience,”MCC CEO Theresa Collignon said.

“It’s a beautifully designed program, and when its properly resourced it does wonderful things.”

Member for Greenway Michelle Rowland, Shadow Minister for Immigration Richard Marles and NSW senate candidate Jagath Bandara visited the Blacktown campus on Friday to talk about funding for migrant services.The ALP last month announced a Shorten government would establish an Office for Multicultural Affairs, with its first task to implement a Community Cohesion Program.

The program would see a $24 million investment in the Adult Migrant English Program, as well as $3 million tocommunity hubsand $1.5 million to the ‘Racism. It stops with me’campaign.

Ms Rowland said Labor sees functional English as the most important factor in successful settlement.

“Once upon a time you could not have those skills and still do alright. Those jobs don’t exist anymore. They don’t even exist for people who do have functional English,” she said.

Ms Collignon welcomed the announcement but noted there are other significant barriers formigrants, notably housing affordability.

Relationships Australia NSW manager June Brooks saidmore funding is needed to help migrant students from war-torn countries.

“Schools need some additional support to bring organisations like ourselves in so that those children can get past the trauma and start to learn. Otherwise they will be our biggest problem in 10 to 15 years,” Ms Brooks said.

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