Addressing a diverse group of communities from the Sydney region, including Italian, Chinese and Indian local media plus representatives from SBS and 2SER, the politicians took the opportunity to emphasise their policies which are pertinent to a country enriched and enlivened by the presence of an enormous range of migrant groups.
“Modern Australia and multicultural Australia are the same thing,” Burke, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia, said on numerous occasions.
The conference was fittingly held in the Trades Hall in Sussex Street, which also houses the Unions NSW head office.
Burke announced the plan for an if-elected Shorten Labor Government to invest $100 million to expand access to culturally appropriate aged care facilities throughout Australia.
“No matter how proficient some people have become during the course of their lives in the English language, if it wasn’t the language of their childhood, then as they age, very often, they revert to the language of their childhood, the memories of their childhood,” he said.
“That means there needs to be room for multiculturally-sensitive aged care.”
The announcement is welcomed by the Italian community, which has always invested in and relied on Italian aged care facilities as an essential component of their ageing process.
Burke also announced an additional investment of $15 million in the Adult Migrant English Program, to increase the number of service locations, expand access for more migrants and improve training quality.
“Too many people have had to choose: do they have time to take on a job, or do they keep their English classes going?” Burke said, emphasising improved flexibility of the program.
He also took the time to remind those present that the current government had moved to introduce a university-level English test for prospective citizens, where people from Western countries were not required to pass the test but people from Asia were.
Burke called the test “bigoted” and “discriminatory”.
Shayne Neumann, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, spoke to describe Labor’s plans for a Long Stay Parent Visa, to ensure that migrants can reunite with their family.
He contrasted their prospective visa with the current Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa, which is capped to 15,000 places, costs four times as much and cannot be renewed in Australia.
The event was an obvious attempt to connect with all facets of multicultural Australia in the lead up to the election, as the ministers emphasised:
“We have never treated multicultural Australia as though it were a minority group, to be lied to, patronised and marginalised.
“We are a multicultural nation and we are better for it.”