Submission to the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection Discussion Paper, Strengthening the Test for Australian Citizenship (2017)
The VMC had grave concerns about requirements being proposed to strengthen the test for Australian citizenship, that these would operate in opposition to the spirit and the policy of multiculturalism, and of remaining true to the Australian maxim of the ‘fair go’.
Multiculturalism has served Australia well as a notion that is both inclusive and welcoming. The VMC does not support the proposed citizenship test reforms, especially the divisive nature of the proposed reforms and the damaging effects on the most vulnerable members of our community.
Submission to the Select Committee on Strengthening Multiculturalism (2017)
Contributing to the national dialogue on strengthening multiculturalism, the VMC reiterated the Council for Europe's view that, ‘respect for minorities is a fundamental measure of a country’s ‘moral progress', and the positive nature of multicultural policy that engenders and supports such respect, founded on a philosophy of human rights and civil rights liberalism.
In this submission the VMC advocated for a national multicultural act, establishment of a national Multicultural Commission, and Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination legislation as proposed in 2012, to consolidate anti-discrimination legislation and better protect against discrimination with a simpler regulatory framework.
The VMC Chairperson attended at a public hearing of the inquiry in Melbourne in June 2017 to support the submission.
Social Cohesion in Bendigo: Understanding community attitudes to the mosque in 2015
In 2016, the Victorian Multicultural Commission contracted La Trobe University to produce a study of the 2015 Bendigo mosque protests.
Bendigo attracted international attention from 2014 - 2016 because the regional Victorian city became the site of multiple anti- mosque and/or anti-Islam and anti-racism protests that distilled national debates about safety, security, multiculturalism and Australian identity.
Centred on a planning application for a mosque to service the population, some local people mobilised to protest against the proposed development through formal planning objections and street rallies together with external protestors.
As an invesigation into the events, La Trobe University used two stages of research to identify potential strategies or a model for effectively managing, negotiating and mediating community-based conflict related to urban change in multicultural societies.
A Settlement Journey. A case for a holistic approach to how we settle new arrivals in Victoria: learnings from Canada and the USA 2016
One of the key priorities of the Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission has been to facilitate a more responsive and holistic approach to Victoria's settlement services, particularly in welcoming the state's additional intake of newly arrived refugees from Syria and Iraq who have been granted humanitarian visas.
The Victorian Multicultural Commission is playing a leading role in co-ordinating a wrap-around framework to settlement co-ordination throughout Victoria.
In order to enhance Victoria’s response to settlement co-ordination, the Chairperson travelled to Canada and the United States from 21 September to 6 October 2016 to investigate international best-practice refugee settlement programs.
The report summarises the programs explored on this trip through discussions and observations with government officials, academics, agencies and members of the community into seven key themes, which are offered as opportunities and next steps to strengthen Victoria’s overall settlement response.
Download A Settlement Journey
VMC submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade regarding their Inquiry into the status of the human right to religion or belief
The VMC submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade regarding their Inquiry into the status of the human right to religion or belief focussed on:
• the strength of multiculturalism as a means to progressively extend human rights norms,
• the limited protection for the human right to freedom of religion or belief under Australia’s domestic law, and
• the balance between religious freedom and the right to equality and non-discrimination.
Fairer Safer Housing - Review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997
Fairer Safer Housing is the Victorian Government's work program for ensuring all Victorians have access to safe, affordable and secure housing. Reviewing the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 is a critical part of the broader Fairer Safer Housing work program.
The VMC provided submissions to three of the six issues papers that were particularly pertinent to the housing needs of Victoria's multicultural communities. The VMC was a key stakeholder, advocating for multicultural communities, sitting on the stakeholder reference group, enabling us to meet with the Victorian Government departments leading the review to discuss options for reform.
The VMC provided advice and feedback on framing the options and possible approaches, finally preparing a submission to the proposed options.
Download VMC submission to the Residential Tenancies Act Review Options Discussion Paper: Heading for home
Download VMC submission to the Residential Tenancies Act Review Issues Paper: Rights and Responsibilities fo Landlords and Tenants
Download VMC submission to the Residential Tenancies Act Review Issues Paper: Rent, bonds and other charges
Download VMC submission to the Residential Tenancies Act Review 2015
VMC submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration Inquiry into Migrant Settlement Outcomes
The VMC submission to The Joint Standing Committee on Migration Inquiry into Migrant Settlement Outcomes identified areas where the Australian Government can assist in improving settlement outcomes based on the VMC’s community consultation and regional advisory council evidence.
The VMC Chair attended a public hearing in February 2017 in Melbourne to speak to the submission, explaining the central guiding theme of the submission "is about investing in the people who are entering our country to create a better life. That is how we go about improving settlement outcomes."
Submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in relation to the committee’s inquiry into freedom of speech in Australia (2017)
In this submission the VMC strongly opposed attempts to weaken sections 18C or 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act) which embody important human rights protections for all Australians.
Based on extensive community consultations and research, the VMC expressed the strong view that any amendments to s.18C or s.18D should only be made where these strengthen the human rights protected by these clauses.
VMC submission to the Access to Justice Review
The Access to Justice Review was commissioned by the Victorian Government in 2015 and undertaken by the Department of Justice and Regulation, with the assistance of Crown Counsel, Melinda Richards SC, and the former Chair of the Queensland Legal Aid Commission, Rachel Hunter.
The VMC submission focussed on the unmet legal needs of multicultural communities, who face considerable barriers to getting help with their legal problems. The VMC sought to ensure that the communities' legal needs were fully considered in the review, advocating for civil dispute resolution to be brought within the reach of all Victorians, including migrants, humanitarian refugees and asylum seekers, on the basis of access to justice principles, such as equity, fairness and efficiency.
VMC submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
The VMC prepared a submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in response to their Criminal Justice Consultation Paper in October 2016, and were called to the resulting public policy hearing in December 2016 to appear before the Royal Commission and address the submission.
In particular we advocated for the value of restorative justice programs as a means to ensure that victims and survivors are supported to seek criminal justice responses. While acknowledging that restorative justice approaches can be contentious, the VMC suggested that there are circumstances where it can be a viable approach.
Victorian Government Preliminary Multifaith Roundtable on LGBTI youth in Victoria
On 13 October 2016, 35 faith and community leaders participated in a Victorian Government Preliminary Multifaith Roundtable on LGBTI Youth hosted by the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at the Australian Catholic University.
The Roundtable was a joint initiative between the Multicultural Affairs and Social Cohesion Division and the Equality Branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and was attended by VMC Chairperson Helen Kapalos and Victorian Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality Rowena Allen.
The initiative brought together leaders from a diverse range of faiths and cultural backgrounds to discuss the acceptance of LGBTI youth in faith communities, and the links between social inclusion and mental health and wellbeing.
The conversation was guided by research from Deakin University on the significant challenges LGBTI youth in faith communities experience in reconciling issues of identity regarding sexuality and faith.
Following a brief overview of the research, faith and community leaders were allocated a place at one of six roundtables comprised of at least one LGBTI person of faith and representatives from a diversity of religious groups.
This report details the Roundtable and its results.
Victorian Multicultural Commission-La Trobe study: Understanding Social Cohesion in Shepparton and Mildura
The Victorian Multicultural Commission funded La Trobe University researchers Anthony Moran and Mark Mallman in 2015 to examine the multicultural contexts of Shepparton and Mildura and measure the strength of social cohesion in these areas.
Understanding Social Cohesion in Shepparton and Mildura: Final Report finds that community members of Shepparton and Mildura actively engage in multicultural contexts and reach across cultural differences in everyday life. However, the study find also found there is still further work to be done to develop social cohesion in these Victorian regions.
The findings reveal that employment and housing challenges are still significant issues for people from multicultural backgrounds, especially people from non-English speaking, newly arrived and refugee backgrounds.
Nurturing opportunities for daily interaction between different cultural groups was identified as a means to strengthen social cohesion and build capacity in both communities.
While noting the social capital value of cultural festivals and local sporting events which provide opportunities for everyone to mix, the study recommends further interaction is needed outside of these contexts.
Strengthening Social Cohesion: Meeting Community Needs
As people who work directly with multicultural communities, service providers are often the catalysts for realising the great potential of our state’s cultural diversity.
To hear the perspectives of those involved in delivering services for people from culturally diverse backgrounds, the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) conducted metropolitan and regional forums with community and health service providers and peak bodies from April to May 2015.The VMC captured the issues, ideas and experiences of organisations across topics concerned with how the delivery of services assists integration and social cohesion.
Participants contributed insights on the daily challenges of delivering services with funding insecurity and the increasing diversity of the Victorian community. Importantly, these reflections extended to ways to strengthen services and make them more accessible, inclusive and culturally appropriate for multicultural communities. Organisations also shared their visions for how we might enable services to meet the complex challenges of family violence and discrimination and bias and help to build greater social cohesion.
Engaging Our Youth: Our Future
From December 2014 to June 2015 the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) conducted ten forums for young people at metropolitan and regional locations – Metro West (Flemington/Footscray), Mill Park, Morwell, Ballarat, Shepparton, Dandenong, Broadmeadows, Truganina, Sunshine and Carrum Downs.
The VMC listened to young people who shared their experiences in a safe and fun environment. All participants generously shared their time, their views and their ideas to inform this report. Young people told the VMC about the things that matter to them and shared their ideas about multiculturalism.
Download Engaging Our Youth: Our Future
The findings of the report have since been drawn on by the Victorian Office for Youth and not-for-profit youth organisations to inform policy and programs aimed at building the capacity of young people from culturally diverse backgrounds in Victoria.
Submission to the Education State Early Childhood Consultation (2015)
This submission responded to the overriding policy question of ‘what needs to change?’ The VMC was keen to ensure full consideration of the needs of children from multicultural and non-English-speaking backgrounds. This included necessary supports for parents, including parents and guardians who are recent migrants, humanitarian entrants, and asylum seekers. The submission included the views of Regional Advisory Council (RAC) members and information gathered during multicultural community consultations.
Submission to the Victorian Government on the 10-year Mental Health Plan (2015)
Mental health is a topic regularly raised by VMC Regional Advisory Council (RAC) members advocating for their communities. RAC members provided input to the submission advocating for equitable access to safe, responsive treatment in order to support the mental wellbeing of multicultural communities and in particular humanitarian entrants and asylum seekers.
Submission to the Victorian Government Royal Commission into Family Violence (2015)
The VMC submission addressed the family violence experiences of women and their children from multicultural communities in Victoria, identifying barriers to protection and support that affect them disproportionately, including the subjective threshold with disclosing family violence, and accessing culturally-responsive support services.
Understanding and use of Power of Attornery in Victoria's CALD communities
The Department of Justice recently requested the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) seek input from multicultural communities with respect to Powers of Attorney Legislation. The VMC sought and used feedback from its Regional Advisory Council (RAC) members to compile and provide a report to the Department of Justice.
Click on Understanding the use of Power of Attorney in Victoria's CALD communities to download the full report.