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PM Scott Morrison

Message to multicultural communities; legislated free 510 hours of English instruction

This year has asked a great deal of our multicultural communities.

You’ve all been called on to make some very big sacrifices.

Especially when it comes to the social networks that bind you.

And your community and cultural activities, that reach out and bring joy to so many Australians.

You’ve all played a part, you’ve done whatever it takes, to keep each other safe.

That’s also meant enduring enormous disruption to your all-important faith traditions.

Your perseverance and sacrifices underscore why Australia is the most successful multicultural nation in the world.

A place where we all buy in and draw strength from our shared values – such as mutual respect and individual responsibility.

By your efforts, you have helped the country that you have adopted – and that we all love – to lead the world in our response to the pandemic.

So today, I say thank you to our multicultural communities for everything you have done to help get us through this difficult year.

Leading on the health response has also enabled Australia to lead on the economic response.

The task now is to complete the transition to a business-led economic recovery in a COVID-safe way.

Our hard-working multicultural communities and citizens will be critical to this ambition.

That’s because they’re more likely to start and own a business.

They’re more likely to employ other Australians.

With eight out of 10 jobs in the private sector, we need businesses back out there employing people, investing and claiming the new ground.

Our Government will be supporting you, having already brought forward tax cuts and delivered a range of business incentives.

The recovery must also be about maximising job outcomes for migrants by helping them gain a strong command of English.

With this in mind, we recently made substantial changes to our Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

The $1 billion program (over four years) provides eligible migrants with a legislated entitlement of 510 hours of free language tuition, but only 21 percent have been leaving with functional spoken English.

Learning a new language is complex and takes time. Research shows 510 hours is insufficient to reach functional English, and that for many people around 2000 hours may be required.

Our changes mean that more migrants will be able to access free English language tuition for longer and until they reach a higher level of proficiency.

As we look ahead to a better and brighter 2021, the unprecedented focus and investment on a coronavirus vaccine is returning very good early results.

I believe we will see a vaccine next year – boosting capacity and confidence around our ability to live and work with COVID-19.

Science and research is not just helping us fight the virus.

It’s at the heart of helping our economy and society grow back stronger.

Australians overwhelmingly appreciate the enormous contribution of our multicultural communities.

During this pandemic year, we’ve seen again why.

We’re getting through this together.

And I know people everywhere are excited about a return to the national days and the cultural and religious events, festivals and celebrations that make multicultural Australia so special.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a wonderful summer and a happier new year