Richard Court

Richard Court


Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson


    Citizenship and multicultural initiatives build on Coalition successes

    26/01/2001 11:00 AM

    Western Australia’s reputation as a tolerant and harmonious society will be further strengthened under a raft of new Coalition initiatives announced today.

    Outlining the Coalition’s Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Policy at an Australia Day Citizenship ceremony in Wanneroo this morning, Premier Richard Court said clamping down on religious and racial intolerance would continue to be a cornerstone of the Coalition’s vision.

    The Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Policy also includes linking community groups around the State through a new Citizenship Directory, expanding translating and interpreting services, and finding ways to utilise the overseas qualifications of highly-skilled migrants.

    “Western Australia is overwhelmingly a multicultural success story and the vast majority of Western Australians live in peace and harmony with their neighbours – regardless of race,” Mr Court said.

    “The Government has made enormous progress in the area of citizenship and multicultural interests in eight years.

    “We were the first state to incorporate citizenship into our multicultural portfolio, we have established an annual Harmony Day which has been embraced nationally, and we have introduced programs which ensure all people enjoy equitable access to government and community services.

    “The acceptance of multiculturalism is embracing all of us. Even in our schools, for instance, 91 per cent of students in years three to seven are learning a language other than English.

    “The new initiatives we are announcing today build on that spirit of acceptance and tolerance and send a clear signal that prejudices are not acceptable.”

    Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Rob Johnson said that Western Australia had the highest number of migrants of any State or Territory with almost 500,000 people – or 27.7 per cent of the State’s population – born overseas.

    Mr Johnson said all Western Australians would be encouraged to play a greater role in community life under strategies outlined in the new Policy.

    He said central to this was the creation of a Citizenship Strategy that promoted all aspects of active citizenship.

    Over the past four years, the Coalition has created the WA Citizenship and Multicultural Advisory Council, promoted the Statewide community relations strategy Living in Harmony and expanded the Citizenship and Community Grants Program.

    “We have discovered through extensive public consultation that people want to make a difference but often do not know how,” Mr Johnson said.

    “The task ahead is to tap into people’s desire to become more active in the community and make a contribution – no matter how big or small.”

    New initiatives in the Coalition’s Policy include:
    • a strengthened anti-racism strategy, including a wide-ranging review of existing racial vilification legislation;
    • support for volunteers through skills development and leadership training;
    • development of a Citizenship Directory, which will link community groups throughout the State together;
    • an analysis of mental health services to ensure they meet the needs of Western Australia’s migrant community;
    • expansion of translating and interpreting services in the public sector;
    • creation of a database of ethnic services and organisations to assist business, Government and the community; and -
    • an investigation of the ways in which overseas qualifications held by highly-skilled migrants can be harnessed to provide essential services in regional and remote areas of the State.

    Media contact: Justine Whittome, Premier's office, 9222 9475
    Fran Hodge, Minister Johnson's office, 92154800