Multiculturalism

Hon. GW ELMES (Noosa—LNP) (Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Premier) (2.34 pm): Queensland’s vibrant culture and lifestyle is a reflection of our heritage and our ever-increasingly culturally diverse community. It is through the contributions of our migrants that Queensland has become the great state that it is today. We acknowledge that historic contribution, but it is equally important that we acknowledge the contribution being made now by people who promote tolerance and harmony within the community. The individuals who do such a great job supporting cultural diversity do not look for recognition, but that does not mean that they should not get it.

One way we are pleased to do that is through the Cultural Diversity Awards. I am pleased to inform the House that applications for this year’s Premier’s Cultural Diversity Awards are now open. The awards recognise the contributions of Queenslanders who support our state’s cultural diversity and help build an inclusive, harmonious community. This year, there are 13 award categories, allowing recognition of a wide range of achievements in the development and promotion of Queensland’s cultural diversity. Volunteers, businesses, education providers, the media, community organisations and public sector agencies will all be recognised for their achievements through these prestigious awards. This year, we have introduced a Young Ambassador Award to recognise the increasing amount of great community work that is being done by people under 25 years of age.

I encourage members to promote the awards and encourage nominations in their electorates. Nominations close on Monday, 16 June 2014. Award winners will be announced at a ceremony hosted during Queensland Cultural Diversity Week, a state-wide celebration held from 30 August to 7 September. The week is about celebrating our cultural diversity and promoting what is great about Queensland’s diverse communities. Queensland has a rich and diverse cultural history and the state is all the better for it.

The state is also stronger economically for the contribution made by migrants and refugees over the past century and a half. They usually have a strong desire to succeed, having come to a land of opportunity from deprivation and often persecution. I have seen that firsthand at places such as Moorooka where migrants and refugees have started thriving small businesses. All they needed was some support at the beginning and many will be able to get that with the new Economic Participation Grants Program. The program will fund projects to help migrants and refugees find employment or become involved in business ventures. These grants are part of the government’s strategy to create pathways to employment and business ownership for people from culturally diverse backgrounds. Up to $40,000 will be available for projects where a community group partners with a local council and up to $20,000 will be available for a community group undertaking a project on its own. The program is structured to encourage councils to work with local multicultural groups to develop programs that address specific local needs and opportunities