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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 30 June 2018
24 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 30 JUNE 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Building on Australia’s migrant success story THE HON ALAN TUDGE MP – MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS Migrating to a new country can be an enormous gamble. People take huge risks to uproot their lives in order to come here to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities Australia has to offer. People do not come here to fail, but to succeed. And for generations, many have done just that. Migrants have made, and continue to make, an enormous contribution to the success of our nation. They have helped build modern Australia, making it what it is today. I have often said that Australia is the most successful multicultural nation in the world. Our success has been firmly based on integration. Over the decades people from all over the world have come to Australia, adopted our values, shared our loyalties and contributed to our society. Migrants have enriched the social, economic and cultural life of our nation. While we come from many culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, no one is expected to stop speaking their native language or give up their cultural heritage. In fact, we recognise the immense value in being bilingual and in retaining or acquiring multiple languages, not just for social and cultural reasons, but also for economic reasons. Cultural and linguistic skills play an important role in doing business with our overseas partners, and a linguistic advantage is invaluable. It is also important for Australians, particularly children, to learn languages other than English. All states and territories offer a language-other-thanEnglish program with it being compulsory in some states. Recently, the Turnbull government introduced language study at the preschool level. The study of languages can have enormous cognitive benefits. Learning English also de- livers enormous benefits to newly arrived migrants because it helps with settlement, integration and with finding a job. As our national language, English is a shared form of understanding. It impacts all areas of life – from gain- PHOTO: TOURISM AUSTRALIA Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge. ing meaningful employment to connecting with the broader community. A shared common language is the glue to a cohesive society. Without a common language, how do we speak to our neighbour? How do we understand each other? How can we successfully work together? If we cannot communicate, it is difficult to integrate. This is important, because being part of the broader community helps newly arrived migrants to integrate well and settle into life in Australia. That is not to say that a person cannot have a great life and make a terrific contribution to Australia while speaking little or no English. This is an important message which I have discussed over the past six months in consultations with multicultural communities across the country. The feedback I have received from many migrants on the importance of English language skills has been overwhelmingly positive. Community leaders have repeatedly told me they are supportive of the need to increase the capability of migrants to speak English. The Australian Multicultural Foundation believes that learning the English language is key to breaking down barriers, promoting integration, removing the fear of the unknown and providing employment. The Australian Government is helping migrants to improve their English skills. We offer free English classes through the Adult Migrant English Program. New migrants can access 510 hours of English language classes if they have below-functional English. In some cases they can access 1,000 hours. This year we will spend over $300 million on this program – an increase of more than $50 million since we came to office. Not all migrants, how- ever, take up the offer of free classes to improve their English. For example, a study of humanitarian migrants showed that one-third were not doing English classes three to six months after arriving in Australia. The government has therefore been examining how to create more incentives for residents to boost their English capacity, particularly before becoming a citizen. We are currently examining different options with a focus on basic conversational, primary school level English. As we know as part of the ageing process, many elderly migrants who may have in fact learned to speak English quite often revert back to their mother tongue. People aged over 60 (or under 16) will not be effected by any proposed changes to English language requirements. We are committed to ensuring we continue to place migrants in the centre of Australian life, not on the fringes. We want them to thrive and prosper. A successful life in Australia requires the ability retain and celebrate one's cultural and linguistic heritage but importantly also to communicate in our shared language - English. Ties that bind So, Alexis Tsipras wore a tie last week - and this means a lot NIKOS FOTAKIS Some of us are old enough to have seen the theatrical movie teaser trailer for Rambo: First Blood Part II. It consisted of a sequence of close-up shots of various muscles, belonging to Sylvester Stallone, followed by a knife blade being put in its holder, then a pair of ammunition belts put on crosswise on his bare chest, then the final touch: the red bandanna headband, tied around his forehead. This is pretty much how I imagine Alexis Tsipras getting ready for his live televised address to celebrate the ‘end of the memorandum era’ on Friday after the ‘historic’ Eurogroup agreement that saw the finance ministers of Eurozone member-states approve a series of medium-term debt relief measures that pave the way for Greece's return to the markets. Instead of the red sweatband, the Greek PM sported a red necktie, putting an end to his long-time resistance to conform with the sartorial standards of state leadership. It was a largely and unreservedly symbolic move for the once radical leftist politician, and it was hardly a surprise; the Greek PM had promised to wear a tie only when the country was extended debt relief, something that was - more or less - achieved last week. What was also not surprising was the fact that the tie managed to attract more attention than the Eurogroup deal itself; if you were watching the public discourse, as it was conducted by the Greek media last week, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the country's main issue is whether the PM wears a tie or not. Whoever Tsipras' communication advisor is, they are doing a great job. The PM's sartorial choices and disrespect for protocol have been a constant point of focus for the media and the government critics, who often fall into the trap of shifting criticism from policies to appearance. This has been the case since the first day that Tsipras rose to power. The first Tsipras cabinet's Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis was the target of much criticism for his casual attire during the brief period that he was trying to negotiate the sustainability of Greece's debt. The country's lenders did not seem to mind Varoufakis' jackets and untucked shirts and when it came to Tsipras, they got in on the joke, Jean-Claude Juncker being eager to fool around with the Greek PM, lending him his own tie.
23 June 2018
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