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What's in the budget for ethnic communities?

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Source: AAP

Multicultural and migrant groups say they have been left out of the federal government's budget for 2016. They argue the Coalition's plan to play it safe hasn't included them.Andrea Nierhoff reports.

Descriptions for the Turnbull government's first budget have ranged from conservative to overly cautious, with its focus on tax cuts, superannuation and infrastructure.

Chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA), Joe Caputo, says the government needs to be reminded of who it's working for.

"I think it's important to highlight that 28 per cent of the population in Australia was born overseas, 25 per cent has at least one parent born overseas. So when we're talking about the impact a budget has on the Australian population we also have to highlight that well over 50 per cent of the population are either born overseas or have a parent born overseas."

Joe Caputo welcomes the expansion of a program giving pre-school children the opportunity to study a second language, as well as $100 million for intiatives to combat domestic and family violence.

Eddie Micallef, from the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria (ECCV), also praises these measures.

But he questions the government's priorities.

"I take the family violence allocation of $100 million against the $40 billion for community safety and anti-terrorism programs, when you see 400 or so women being put at risk in those desperate situations in relation to family violence, and you see the limited damage being done from a public safety point of view, you wonder whether the government has its priorities right."

He believes health didn't get the attention it deserved, particularly when it comes to people from diverse communities.

"In relation to accommodation, they are becoming extremely important in the sense that when you have more than 240 ethnic groups in Australia, plus getting ethno-specific resources for them to spend their days in a nursing home is going to be extremely challenging. I think that's an area the cutting $1.2 billion for complex health and aged care providers - you cannot take that amount of money out without having an impact."

The government has promised a million-dollar injection into the aged care sector, overhauling its My Aged Care website, and improving access in rural and remote Australia.

CEO of the Australian Migrant Resource Centre, Eugenia Tsoulis, says there are specific needs for seniors from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, or CALD, that aren't being met.

"I think aged care that is culturally competent and specific needs to be addressed, that's been on the drawing board for a very long time. There isn't enough support for delivery of services in a culturally competent way, and that means that those people in those communities have an opportunity to say how they want services to be delivered to them. It's an unfortunate situation that it's impossible to mainstream CALD people particularly if they've never had the opportunities to learn the language and this is the more established groups. Also much of the aged care is done through particular church groups or other charities that a lot of CALD people don't necessarily belong to."

Other plans that have met with a positive reception include $5 million to counter extremism, and a focus on youth employment, especially for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

A range of support for new arrivals, such as asylum seekers, to help them settle in Australia, has also been announced.

According to FECCA's Joe Caputo, one of his frustrations is the number of visas to be made available for family members.

"Some disappointment for example in the family stream migrants there's going to be a reduction in the number of people coming to Australia and that's very important to the general migrant population. I mean we had 60,000 previously and the next 12 months it's going to be allocated 57,400, and of course there's a big demand from established migrant communities to have family reunion members coming to this country."io

The ECCV's Eddie Micallef, remains unimpressed.

"Overall I'd say it's a disappointing budget, there are some glimmers of hope in other areas but I think overall it's disappointing from a migrant and refugee point of view."

 

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