Tag: Victoria Parliament

Vic. Parliament panel bats to better connect diverse families with childhood services

Photo: Parliament of Victoria, Legal and Social Issues Standing Committee – Legislative Assembly

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 20 September 2020: Early childhood (0 to 8 years old) is a crucial age when a child needs engagement and that’s possible when access to and connections with early childhood services in the state become vital.

A comprehensive report by a panel of the Victorian Parliament into early childhood engagement by culturally diverse families has made 49 recommendations aimed at improving access to and connections with early childhood services in Victoria.

Presented to the Parliament by the Legislative Assembly Legal and Social Issues Committee, the report addresses current barriers that culturally diverse families face in accessing services that would help them to feel more connected to the Victorian communities in which they live. It also highlights the importance of early learning opportunities in laying the foundations for children’s long-term development and indicates that this is particularly relevant for children from refugee backgrounds.

“Families continue to experience barriers to accessing early childhood services, such as language and communication barriers, costs, limited awareness of services and their benefits, discrimination and fear of judgement, among others,” said Committee Chair Natalie Suleyman.

“The purpose of this report and its accompanying recommendations is to address these barriers and ensure that services are inclusive in supporting families and their children,” Ms Suleyman said.

Key recommendations include:

*continued funding of community hubs as well-established and evidence-based models for engaging with culturally diverse communities
*mandated training in cultural competency and trauma-informed care for state funded services
strategies and actions to increase the number of bicultural and bilingual workers in early *childhood services
*enhanced support for refugee families by the Maternal and Child Health Service
identifying children of refugee background as a priority group for mental health services
*culturally diverse speech therapy workers to ensure speech and language delay assessments can be conducted in a child’s first language
*funding for playgroups that specifically target culturally diverse communities
targeted funding to assist people from culturally diverse backgrounds to engage in training and development, such as Free TAFE in the early childhood sector
*expanding Early Start Kindergarten to ensure children of refugee background are immediately eligible for free 3-year-old kinder
*adopting a state-wide approach to kindergarten enrolment, with a single, easily accessible and central enrolment process across Victoria.

“Multiculturalism has benefited our state greatly and we need to ensure that the families we welcome to Victoria can access and benefit from early education and health services to enable their children to get the best start in life,” Ms. Suleyman said.

“Families feeling like they belong in the community and in specific environments, such as kindergartens or schools, is critical to successful engagement.”

The Committee received a range of submissions and held a series of public hearings and site visits that allowed it to explore a number of important issues. This included, in particular, the importance of expanding workforce diversity, not only to provide more welcoming spaces for culturally diverse families, but also to create meaningful employment opportunities for individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The report is available from the Committee’s website.

Victoria Parliament catering team’s meals milestone through charities


By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 18 August 2020: The kitchens have reached a significant milestone during COVID-19, preparing 450,000 meals that charities have delivered to people most in need.

“Parliament’s catering team has been working seven days a week with a range of charities over several months to help ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community have received nutritious meals,” Legislative Assembly Speaker Colin Brooks said.

“Through this initiative we’ve supported the well-being of our community and we’ve kept people in jobs,” Mr Brooks said..

The meals initiative commenced in late March and is a partnership with The Salvation Army, The Lazarus Centre, St Peter’s Eastern Hill Anglican Church, Heaven At The Hill social enterprise, the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, Melbourne City Mission, St Vincent de Paul Society and St Mary’s House of Welcome.

“By the end of August more than half a million meals will have been prepared and distributed through this joint effort for our community,” Mr. Brooks said.

Parliament’s appropriation is being used to support the program with $476,563 spent in June and $344,303 spent in July. Funds have been directed to this initiative as some of the Parliament’s planned activities could not be undertaken due to COVID-19.

“The charities we have been working with have told us how much this meals initiative is assisting them to help people in need at a time of unprecedented demand for their services,” Legislative Council President Nazih Elasmar said.

“This is a wonderful example of Victorians working together for the benefit of our community,” Mr. Elasmar said.

Source: Parliament website, 11 August 2020.

Vic. Legislative Council homelessness online hearings continue


By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE,12 August 2020: The Victoria Legislative Council’s Legal and Social Issues Committee today continued its inquiry into homelessness in Victoria holding an online hearing with mental health and legal specialists.

The online hearing was broadcast live on the Victorian Parliament’s website in the morning. Two panel discussions took place.

The first in the morning will be with mental health service provider Mind
Australia and the Victorian Branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

Questions were asked to the panelists by Fiona Patten, Chair, Tien Kieu, Deputy Chair, Kaushaliya Vaghela MP Legislative Council, Western Metropolitan Region, Tania Maxwell, member and Wendy Lovell, Member among others.

On a question by Kaushaliya Vaghela, it came out that social housing should be the priority no. one, mental health, Drug/Alcohol Use, and housing should be coordinated.

Kaushaliya Vaghela MP at the hearing.

Dr. Brian Vandenberg, Health Economist from the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, answering to a question said, research on gambling and homelessness shows, the connection of poverty, and loneliness behind it. So, it is a complex challenge which, he thought, needs to be addressed.

The second in the afternoon was with Magistrate Pauline Spencer, Head of the Specialist Courts Division at the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, and representatives from the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO).

Also presenting at the online hearing was be Dr. Brian Vandenberg, Health Economist from the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, as well as Anglicare Victoria and the Office of the Public Advocate.

Last week the Committee presented an interim report to Parliament on the inquiry and published an interactive dashboard that shows who has engaged with the inquiry and what issues are most important to them.
This and upcoming hearings are likely to enable the Committee to explore in-depth some of the factors behind homelessness and what can be done to solve the problems that are arising.

Interim report of Victoria’s response to COVID-19 pandemic to be tabled on 4 Aug 2020


By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 2 August 2020: As the COVID-19 pandemic surges on in Victoria, the interim report of the Victorian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be tabled in Parliament on 4 August 2020. An electronic copy of the report will be available to download from parliament.vic.gov.au.Further COVID-19 public hearings are scheduled for 11, 12, 13, and 25, 26, 27 August 2020, says the Victorian Parliament website. These hearings will be live-streamed on the Parliament of Victoria website.

Earlier, on 29 April 2020, the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee agreed to review and report to the Parliament on the responses taken by the Victorian Government, including as part of the National Cabinet, to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and any other matter related to the COVID-19 pandemic up to each reporting date of the Committee.

The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee consists of Ms. Lizzie Blandthorn, Chair (ALP), Mr. Sam Hibbins (Victorian Greens), Mr. David Limbrick (Liberal Democrats), Mr. Gary Maas (ALP), Mr. Danny O’Brien (The Nationals), Ms. Pauline Richards (ALP), Mr. Tim Richardson (ALP), Mr. Richard Riordan, Deputy Chair (Liberal Party), Ms. Ingrid Stitt (ALP) and
Ms. Bridget Vallence (Liberal Party).

The report will give Parliament, and the Victorian community, an account of how the government has approached the pandemic and offer recommendations if necessary.

FIA Diwali Lights Competition 2019 prize distribution at the Parliament House

Photos: SAT/NN.

FIA Diwali Lights Competition 2019 prize distribution at the Parliament House

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 15 November: This is for the third consecutive year the FIA Diwali Lights Competition lighted up many homes in Victoria. Spread out into all suburbs, the competition, held each year during the festive season and Diwali, saw many entries with participants sending in the pictures of their houses. The winners, naturally, are happy with being facilitated at the Parliament Houses’ Federation Room today.

According to FIA Patron Karthik Arasu, “The competition involved Melbourne residents from all backgrounds to light up their front home facades in the lead up to Diwali from 20th October and this year being Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550 Birthday it was conducted till 10th November.”

Those who addressed the select gathering were Hon. Kaushaliya Vaghela MP, Hon. Bruce Atkinson and the Indian Consul General here, Hon. Raj Kumar. In his address, Bruce wished a time will come soon when the Victorian Parliament will be illuminated for Diwali. Kaushaliya talked about the various support schemes including grants the Victorian Government was doing for various community organizations. Mr. Raj Kumar wished everyone a happy Diwali and detailed some of the issues being addressed by the Indian Consulate here.

Those who got the prizes were:

- Guru Nanak Ji Special Prize $500 to Dilsher Singh Gill from Tarneit
- Judges special prize $500 to Anuj Gupta from Point Cook
- South East Metropolitan $500 to Shobhit Asthana from Oakleigh South
- Western Metropolitan $500 to Shalveen Vijay Lal from Point Cook
- Northern Metropolitan $500 to Sunny Dutt from Wollert

Appreciation certificates were also awarded to the sponsors and others supporting the event.