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In a step towards fulfilling a long-standing demand of the Indian community, the Liberals have promised to spend $2.5 million towards establishing the proposed Indian Community Centre in Victoria, the first of its kind in the state, pending a victory in the ongoing federal elections.
The announcement was made by Alan Tudge, the Federal Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population at a community event in the southeastern suburb of Dandenong in Melbourne on Sunday.
“Should the Morrison government be re-elected we would provide $2.5 million to the Indian community to build an Indian Community Centre right here in Victoria,” announced Mr Tudge.
“We know that we have got other community centres in other states including Western Australia and I think in New South Wales, but this is the home of the most Indians, so we think it’s proper and right that there needs to be one here," he added.
The Minister further revealed that the proposed centre is likely to be in Bayswater - which falls within his electorate of Aston - where a site is currently being identified for the construction of the hub.
“I know the aspiration for the centre is to be able to hold Hindi classes, demo classes and other Indian language classes there, as well as just a centre to get together,” Mr Tudge told SBS Punjabi.
Welcoming the decision, Vasan Srinivasan, the Chair of the Australian Indian Community Charitable Trust who has been long lobbying for the centre, said the Indian community would finally get a “much-needed home.”
“We have thirteen Sikh temples, eleven Hindu temples, there are many other religious and spiritual groups that have organized quite well, but one thing was left out over the last 40 years of living in this country -- and this is, an Indian community centre,” Mr Srinivasan told SBS Punjabi.
In line with Mr Tudge's comments, Mr Srinivasan said the centre would be used for holding events and activities including for running Indian language classes, as well as providing a dedicated space for locals with Indian heritage to come together and celebrate their cultural traditions.
"It will not just be a community centre but we also want to teach Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil and other languages classes from there. We want the next generation to learn our languages and culture. This is one thing where we will bring our Kashmir to Kanya Kumari community together to call it our home in Victoria,” he added.
Mr Srinivasan further claimed that he would “push” the Liberals to double the promised funds if they managed to return to power later this week.