The President of the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM), Bill Papastergiadis, was invited by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to participate in a meeting with the Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, Jason Wood, and various community leaders, on Friday 23 October.
Minister Alan Tudge said the feedback from the many forums that he has organised has led to policy changes by him, e.g. religious leaders exemptions on border movement and visa application changes for families and also anti-racism campaigns.
Tudge emphasised the doubling of permanent visa numbers and the free English classes for any migrant, no matter even if they arrived 10 years ago He also added that language plays a key role in communication and employment. Only 13% of people with little English skills are employed at present. "This needs to be addressed," he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted that the Chinese community needs to be commended for home quarantining in the early parts of the COVID crisis. The community showed enormous leadership, he said. He appreciated the leadership shown by all of the community leaders.
Prime Minister said that Australia has done better than most countries and that during this crisis his Government has tried to engage more with the communities. There have been over 8,000 engagements with various communities.
"We are a multicultural country and we live together harmoniously. Australia is the multicultural country in the world. Australia will come out of this crisis better than most other countries," he noted.
Economics are a major part of the revival of the country and the Government knows that ethnic businesses are the most entrepreneurial.
Scott Morrison said that he is confident of a vaccine. "If all goes well the vaccine will be fully produced and passed throughout Australia by October 2021."
Minister Jason Wood, on a question about the programs to help with islamophobia, stated that one-third of the $62m social cohesion program will be allocated towards amongst other things these types of initiatives.
"ASIO will not allow right-wing extremists to flourish in Australia and are in a close examination of them," he said.
The GCM President, Bill Papastergiadis, expressed his satisfaction with the meeting. "It is very important that the Prime Minister continues his meetings with representatives of various communities. He assured us that this meeting was one of a series of similar meetings he will have in the future," he said.