$2.5 million for Lebanese Muslim Association for community cohesion project

The Lebanese Muslim Association will receive $2.5 million in funding from the Rudd Government to promote community cohesion in South Western Sydney through its Engage, Challenge, Grow project.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs Kate Lundy, the Member for Watson Tony Burke and Member for Blaxland Jason Clare made the announcement August 3 which will support the Lebanese Muslim Association in running the Engage, Challenge, Grow project. The project aims to promote cross-cultural contact between different communities, foster understanding and respect, and break down barriers to cohesion.

The funding will be provided as part of the $15 million Empowering Multicultural Communities initiative which is designed to support local communities as they embrace the benefits of multiculturalism and maintain socially inclusive neighbourhoods.

The Lebanese Muslim Association is a well-respected not-for-profit community organisation in South Western Sydney with an established reputation for providing social, educational, recreational and welfare services to the Muslim community.

The Engage, Challenge, Grow project will run in three streams:

1. Engage

The engagement phase of the program will include the development of a Young Muslims Advisory Group and will also identify high-profile Australian Muslims to be positive role models for Muslim youth.

2. Challenge

The challenge phase will facilitate a number of events to engage Muslim families within the wider community to foster understanding, respect and build community resilience.

This phase will include a series of open days to break down the barriers and misconceptions by creating an open dialogue with the non-Muslim community.

A short film designed to challenge misconceptions about Muslim women will also be produced and screened as part of the Challenge phase.

3. Grow
The final component of the program will include an outreach project that will create opportunities for young Muslim men and women to become trainees and complete a Certificate IV in youth work.

Throughout delivery and upon completion, the program will be evaluated by an independent external and suitably qualified consultant.


Changing face of migration to Australia

The Asia region is becoming a leading source for permanent migration to Australia according to Australia’s Migration Trends, a new report released recently by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Brendan O’Connor.

Members of the Chinese Community in NSW get ready for a Blacktown festival parade
Members of the Chinese Community in NSW get ready for a Blacktown festival parade
Members of the Chinese Community in NSW get ready for a Blacktown festival parade[/caption]

For the first time, India and China were the two main source countries of permanent migrants.

The report contains comprehensive analysis and commentary on migration activity for 2011-12, and provides a clear picture of substantial changes in the origins of Australia’s migrants, reflecting the trend towards an Asian Century.

‘Seven of the top 10 source countries in 2011-12 were located in the Asia region,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘Between 1996 and 2011, Australia’s overseas-born population grew by more than 40 per cent to reach six million. This was more than double the rate for the Australian-born population and is essential in addressing the demographic challenges of an ageing population,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘With the government’s strong emphasis on skilled migration, this sort of growth is also crucial to ensuring depth in Australia’s labour force.

Mr O’Connor said patterns of migration are also changing.
‘In 2011-12, half of Australia’s skilled migrants applied while they were already living in Australia on a temporary visa. This was more than twice the rate of a decade earlier and reflects a growing trend of migrants seeing what Australia has to offer before making a commitment to settle permanently,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘There is also clear evidence of Australia’s commitment to international refugee protection. By granting more than 13 700 humanitarian visas in 2011-12, Australia continued to earn its place as one of the top three resettlement countries in the world, along with Canada and the USA.

‘These and other findings, along with extensive policy discussion make Australia’s Migration Trends essential reading for anyone wanting to learn more about migration’s role in our society and its importance to Australia’s future.’


Multicultural youth sport funds grant opens

Multicultural youth in Australia can look forward to new sporting opportunities with the opening of the third round of the Multicultural Youth Sports Partnership Program.

Australian Sports Commission photo
Australian Sports Commission photo

Minister for Sport and Multicultural Affairs Kate Lundy saud the Multicultural Youth Sports Partnership Program provides grants to organisations from amounts of $5,000 to $50,000 to help youth from new and emerging communities and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to participate in sport within their local communities.

‘Sport is an important part of Australian culture, and as a government we want to help local sporting organisations better connect with new and emerging communities,’ Senator Lundy said.

‘Through this program we are helping refugees and new migrants to better understand Australian culture through sport.’

Senator Lundy recently joined members of the Sunshine Heights Cricket Club in Melbourne to see how the Club is using the Multicultural Youth Sports Partnership funding they received last year to help deliver their ‘We Don’t Like Cricket – We Love it!’ program.

‘The ‘We Don’t Like Cricket – We Love it!’ program provides great opportunities for local refugee children to participate in weekly cricketing activities in a safe and supporting environment,’ Senator Lundy said.

Applications are now open for the next round of Multicultural Youth Sports Partnership program. Applications close on 2 May 2013 and successful applicants will be announced in July 2013.

For more information about the grants, visit the Australian Sports Commission website. http://ausport.gov.au/

Harmony Day, March 21

Australia’s cultural diversity takes centre stage across the nation today (March 21) as Australians join together to celebrate Harmony Day, the same day that the international community observes the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

001 past Harmony Day activity-barnier-public-school
001 past Harmony Day activity-barnier-public-school

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Brendan O’Connor and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy, said the annual celebration was a chance for all Australians to embrace the many things that make our country unique.

‘The values of inclusiveness, respect and belonging are fundamental to the development of Australia’s successful multicultural framework,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘These values are at the core of what Harmony Day is about.
‘Harmony Day is a fantastic time to reflect on and celebrate the rich patchwork of cultures which make Australia such a fantastic place to live.’

The theme underpinning this year’s celebration is Many Stories – One Australia, emphasising that each of Australia’s 22 million citizens has a unique story to tell.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy said the theme encourages Australians to reflect on their Australian journey and share it with others.

‘The stories which make up the broader Australian narrative are varied and unique, and this year’s theme aims to bring to light the amazing diversity amongst Australia’s citizens,’ Senator Lundy said.

‘Australians have been encouraged to reflect on their journey and share it with others – in workplaces, on social network sites, at schools or within their communities.’

Preparations are being finalised for thousands of events across the country, including the lighting up tonight of Federation Square in Melbourne and some of Canberra’s iconic landmarks, including Parliament House, in the Harmony colour – orange.

Since Harmony Day began in 1999, almost 50 000 events have been staged across Australia with community groups, schools, churches, local governments and the business community once again come together to celebrate the cultures that make Australia a great place to live.

‘Harmony Day is a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the unique sense of belonging which has grown from Australia’s multicultural foundation,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘Together we can showcase the spirit of the cultural diversity which has made Australia what it is today.’

For more information on Harmony Day events, go to the Harmony Day website www.harmony.gov.au. [Photos used here from gallery of www.harmony.gov.au].

Can’t get away with migration fraud …

One cannot easily get away with migration fraud even many years after he or she has gained Australian citizenship. The extensive use of biometrics and other new technology has helped authorities to track and bust people concealing their real identities.

biometrics 222
biometrics 222

That’s the lesson learned by an Egyptian man who was recently arrested and convicted of migration fraud following an extensive investigation by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

According to an immigration ministry statement, the Egyptian national was found to have falsely claimed to be a Sudanese refugee. In 2004, the Egyptian made claims to the department that he was a Sudanese national who had suffered persecution.

He was subsequently granted permanent residence and took his oath as an Australian citizen in 2007. Now the man is facing fines and is likely to lose his citizenship.

‘The government is committed to ensure that our humanitarian intake is reserved for people with genuine claims,’ Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor said.

‘When new information becomes available about people who have made claims, we will investigate.

‘In this case, we discovered through advanced biometric capabilities that he was in fact an Egyptian national and that documentation supplied to support his claims of persecution were falsified.’

The government used facial recognition, document examination, and fingerprint analysis to build the case against the man.

DIAC has also expanded biometric collection points and the sharing of data with partner countries and government agencies.

‘These developments have led to several recent successful prosecutions against people found to have used false information, including identity details, as part of visa application processes,’ Mr O’Connor said.

According to the ministry, six people have been prosecuted over the past 12 months for offences relating to identity fraud to subvert immigration channels.

New report on migration and multiculturalism in Australia

Australia is a vibrant multicultural society according to the findings of the Migration Committee report tabled in the Parliament today (March 18). The report received bi-partisan support and made 32 recommendations after receiving over 500 submissions and holding 27 public hearings over a two year period.

The report found that Australian multiculturalism is a success story, and stands as a good example to the world on how to build a cohesive society.

Member for Parliament Maria Vamvakinou
Member for Parliament Maria Vamvakinou

Chair of the Migration Committee Maria Vamvakinou said: “immigration and settlement in Australia has always been a nation building exercise. The committee believes that access to Australian citizenship has been at the heart of the success and cohesion of Australian society. Settlement is a long term and intergenerational process, and we need a whole of government approach and better coordination between all three tiers of Australian government”.

The committee’s recommendations include: rebuilding Australia’s research capacity in this field, especially in qualitative research; factoring cultural and linguistic diversity into the Government’s Social Inclusion Agenda, greater flexibility in English language training and support for micro enterprises, especially for women. The Committee found Job Services Australia needs to improve its delivery of services to people of diverse backgrounds, including refugees.

Deputy Chair Louise Markus said the committee welcomed meeting people at the grass roots where business and local communities were collaborating to improve relationships, and build skills and opportunities for people from different backgrounds.

“In Dandenong, the South East Melbourne Manufacturers Alliance is bringing employers and young refugees together; the National Australia Bank’s African Inclusion Program is exemplary; and social enterprises, like The Studio, are inspirational. These initiatives deserve special mention and prove that cooperation, cross-cultural awareness, and commitment provide tangible results,” Mrs Markus said.

Mrs Markus said there was “no doubt that immigration has enriched the social, economic and cultural life of our country”.

Ms Vamvakinou said every society is dynamic and open to the influences of globalisation, wars, and economic crises. We are a resilient society and well placed to meet these challenges.

Source: APH

Australia triples in popularity with Chinese and Indian visitors

Over the last ten years, people from China and India more than tripled their visits to Australia breaking all previous records, according to figures released recently by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

China went from 190,000 visits in 2002 to 630,000 in 2012, and India from 45,000 to 160,000.

Other countries in Australia’s top ten visitors list include Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Hong Kong – meaning Asian countries are now seven of our top ten source countries for short term visits to Australia.

Assistant Director of Demography, Neil Scott said “Despite a high Australian dollar, Australia’s short term visitor numbers were up by nearly five per cent since 2011 with 6.1 million short trips made to Australia – 270,000 more than we saw in 2011.”

“New Zealand remains our biggest source of overseas short-term visitor arrivals with 1.2 million trips in 2012 or one in five visitors coming from there, but China is now in second place with one in ten, followed by the UK, the USA and Japan.

“The top five countries alone provided more than half of last years overseas visitors, and there were an extra 85,000 visits from China – an increase of 16 per cent. The next largest increase in visitor numbers came from Malaysia, with a nine per cent increase.

“New South Wales remained the most popular destination with a record 2.3 million overseas visitors in 2012, claiming more than one-third of all short-term visitor arrivals to Australia.

“This was followed by Queensland at one-quarter and Victoria with just over one-fifth.

“More than two-thirds – or about 4.3 million overseas visitors – came here for holidays or to see friends and family, and the peak age group for short term visitors was 25-29 year olds.

“Interestingly, the average amount of time people spent in Australia was 11 days, which has been constant over the last ten years,” Mr Scott said.

A busy street in Melbourne ... Most visitors to Australia come from Asian countries

Women still under-represented in positions of leadership

Women in Australia continue to be under-represented in positions of leadership, according to a new report released this month by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Are men still the lords in the corporate world?

The report Gender Indicators, Australia brings together a variety of ABS and non-ABS data to look at the differences between men and women, and how these differences are changing over time.

ABS Director of Living Conditions Statistics, Caroline Daley, said men still held a higher proportion of Australia’s top leadership positions including federal and state parliamentarians, CEOs in the top 200 ASX companies and managers in the Australian Public Service.

“Seven out of ten federal and state parliamentarians were men, and this hasn’t changed over the past ten years,” Ms Daley said.

“The proportion of women CEOs in top 200 ASX companies has remained below five per cent for the last decade,” she said.

“The situation in the public service however is changing, with the proportion of women in senior and middle manager roles rising from 35 per cent in 2002 to 46 per cent in 2012.

The report also shows that more than twice as many men as women receive nominations and awards for the Order of Australia.

“The difference is greatest at the highest tiers of the honours system, where around three times as many men receive either the Companion of the Order (AC) or Officer of the Order (AO) award in the General Division,” Ms Daley said.

“In 2012, 682 men and 297 women received a General Division Order of Australia award at either the Australia Day or Queen’s Birthday announcements.

“Two women received the highest honour (AC), compared to 11 men, while 18 women and 57 men received the second highest honour (AO),” she said.

More ‘No Smoking’ places

Smokers: be wary where you light up especially when you’re around Sydney and cities around New South Wales.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner on January 7 reminded people throughout NSW that smoking is now banned in many new locations including playgrounds, transport stops and swimming pools.

Recent amendments to the Smoke-free Environment Act mean smoking will be banned:

  • Within 10 metres of children’s play equipment
  • At swimming pool complexes
  • In spectator areas of sports grounds or other recreational areas
  • On railway platforms, light rail stations and ferry wharves
  • At bus stops and taxi ranks
  • Within four metres of a pedestrian access point to a public building

Mrs Skinner said the NSW Tobacco Strategy is one of the most advanced in the country.

“Smoking-related illness accounts for around 5,200 deaths and 44,000 hospitalisations per year in NSW and costs about $8 billion annually,” Mrs Skinner said.

“Taking steps to limit people’s exposure to second-hand smoke in outdoor public places is a key step in efforts to minimise tobacco smoking in our society.

“Smoking is the leading cause of premature death and disability in NSW and we hope to prevent those who have quit smoking from relapsing.”

The ban on smoking in public places will be extended to commercial outdoor dining areas in licensed premises, restaurants and cafes from July 2015.

“The NSW Government has already demonstrated its commitment to reducing smoking and its impact in our community, by establishing ambitious targets to continue to reduce smoking,” Mrs Skinner said.

Community education materials will be available in printed form and online at health.nsw.gov.au.
Enquiries in relation to the new laws can be directed to the Tobacco Information Line on 1800 357 412.

Anyone wishing to quit smoking should contact the NSW Quitline on 13 78 48. [health.nsw.gov.au]

Row boats back on Parramatta river

The Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Councillor John Chedid has brought back row boats to Parramatta River – the first time they have been seen on this part of the River since early colonial days.

“The vintage row boats we have for hire will help bring activity and life to our River foreshore,” Cr Chedid said.

“At the same time, these row boats will give families a fun and healthy activity to do with the kids during the school holidays.

“I’m very excited about having row boats back on our River. We haven’t seen any recreational rowing in this part of the River since our colonial days.

“This is the first time Council has ever run this program but we’ve been talking about doing this for a long time. Finally, we have it up and running.

“At the moment, the plan is to trial it and if it proves popular, we may look into having a commercial operator run this service permanently,” Cr Chedid said.

The row boats are part of Council’s new city activation program aimed at revitalising key areas of Parramatta, including the River and Church Street Mall. They also form part of the Lord Mayor’s Healthy City initiative, designed to encourage a healthier lifestyle in the community.

“Our city animation program is about trialling and testing new projects to revitalise parts of our City; find out what works before we make any significant investments,” Cr Chedid said.

Row Boats on the River details:

When: Hours of operation are 11.00am to 2.30pm and 3.30pm to dark.

Where: Parramatta River, southern bank, between Church Street and Wilde Avenue, Parramatta

Cost: Ten vintage dinghies and two paddle wheelers are for hire, starting at $10 for half an hour.