The Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria, being fully aware that Greek-Australians play a leading role in the shaping of public policy in general and ethno-specific, multicultural issues in particular, has proposed the following policy issues to take up with all political parties and has requested from all parties to respond in the public forum. Deputations to MPs and Senators and media releases are an integral part of the campaign needed in support of these claims.
NATIONAL LANGUAGES POLICY
Australia's unique and Nation Building Ethno- cultural diversity depends mainly on the country's education system having and implementing a National Languages Policy that should provide access to the teaching of Community languages to students of all ethnic backgrounds in their school environment. These languages continue to play a strong role in ordinary Australians daily lives. Strengthening their teaching will ensure that multilingualism will continue to be both a strong national asset and treasure of Australian Society.
MULTICULTURAL LEGISLATION - CONSTITUTION RECOGNITION
Enactment of a Federal Multicultural Act to complement existing State Acts with transparent community accountability. Enshrine multiculturalism in the Constitution so as to include and reflect the real makeup of the peoples' of Australia, Indigenous and poly-ethnic character .Having indigenous and ethnic minority rights legally and constitutionally recognised would make a major contribution towards righting historical wrongs, that still tend to divide and discriminate.
Funding to welfare groups working with Greeks and other CALD groups must be enhanced to reflect the growing needs of these communities. Mental health, family violence, abuse of the elderly, affordable housing options for older people and low income families, are issues that must be addressed immediately and organisations dealing with these matters on a day to day basis need to be supported. Improved services are especially needed in the area of depression and community safety for the elderly.
The great majority of Australia's 2,100,000 pensioners depending on Government pensions are first generation migrants, whose annual income never exceeded the minimum wage. Their hard mostly manual work and weekly payments entitles them to a fair pension and security for their few non income making assets. We support the Pensioners claims for an increase of their pension to 35% of the average male weekly earnings, free medical, hospital and dental care and non-loss of pension when visiting the country of their birth.
Ethnic minority media -print and electronic- are indispensable to multiculturalism. Federal funding for SBS and Ethnic Community Broadcasting must be maintained and increased especially for Community Broadcasting. Government advertising in ethnic media must increase and reflect more equitably that directed to English Language commercial media. One of the SBS’s 4 channels be dedicated to broadcasting programs produced by and for the ethnic minorities.
Recommitment to the benefits to Australia from immigration. Humane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Facilitating immigration from Greece, strict policing of Australia’s work relations legislation against the exploitation of new migrants and temporary visa holders.