Minister Coleman has worked with the Greek Centre on a number of issues and has a detailed understanding of the workings of the Greek Community of Melbourne. As part of this ongoing relationship, Minister Coleman invited Bill Papastergiadis and Costas Markos to a meeting to continue the dialogue.
During the meeting, Minister Coleman outlined some current key proposals by the Federal Government.
Bill Papastergiadis said “one of the key issues facing our community is having carers who can converse in the language of the elderly people they look after”. Minister Coleman responded that this is an issue he has considered and has made some changes to ease the ability for such carers to be employed.
The issue of language and how it is taught to recent migrants also featured heavily in the discussions. Understanding the English language would assist new migrants and refugees into employment and society, said Minister Coleman. He outlined his vision on expanding English classes. Costas Markos noted that additional schooling programs are important and the Greek Community of Melbourne could play a role in this regard.
Minister Coleman was particularly interested in the teaching programs by the Greek Community of Melbourne.
Costas Markos noted that having smaller providers for the provision of language programs for new migrants would assist in encouraging new migrants to learn the English language. Minister Coleman agreed with this.
Bill Papastergiadis noted how the Federal Government financial assistance of $5 million for the Melbourne University Chair and the new Centre had received significant coverage in Greece. Bill Papastergiadis made particular mention of the television coverage in Greece of the Prime Minister himself and him being involved in a Greek dance. The Prime Minister of Greece had expressed great interest in the financial support of Greek Community of Melbourne initiatives. Prime Minister Mitsotakis saw Australian Federal Government and the Greek Community of Melbourne as global leaders on issues of multiculturalism.
Minister Coleman noted that the Greek Community of Melbourne was a very important part of the Federal Government’s ongoing discourse in multicultural issues.
Minister Coleman also expressed excitement with the broad cosmopolitan and multicultural nature of the Chair to be established at Melbourne University. He said that he had in fact raised this in Federal Parliament recently and that his cabinet colleagues were equally excited.
Bill Papastergiadis said that the Greek Community of Melbourne was focused on creating a world class Chair at Melbourne University.
Among the issues discussed with the GCM at the meeting were:
(a) The financial support of English-language teaching programs for newly arrived immigrants, now offered by large organisations. These programs will be announced by the end of the year.
(b) The revision of the regulations related to aged care workers, such as knowledge of English and age limits.
(c) The financial support of the GCM cultural programs, such as the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival, which will be announced next month. Mr Coleman said that he considers the festival as one of the largest multicultural festivals in Australia.
(d) The establishment of the new Greek Community Centre for elderly and young Greeks.
(e) The creation of the Hellenic Chair of World Diaspora at the School of Culture and Communication at Melbourne University. The Minister said he will discuss the matter with the Federal Minister of Education.
Both Mr Papastergiades and Mr Markos expressed their satisfaction of the meeting with Mr Coleman and his interest in keeping the communication channel open with the GCM. They also invited Mr Coleman to the opening of the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival 2020.
“We are very pleased that the Minister wishes to continue the consultations with large ethnic organisations and we will certainly participate in them. It is important that he discusses directly with us various cultural and educational issues that concern us, while he is expressing his intention to assist, " said Costas Markos.