ROBIN Scott Minister for Finance and Minister for Multicultural Affairs was in Ballarat last Friday on a flying visit to a number of locations. At GPLACE, the home of Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council (BRMC) Mr Scott listened to a number of speakers before addressing the assembled group, himself. Dr Sundram Sivamalai BRMC Chairperson opened the meeting by saying that democracy of the nation was first tested in Ballarat. He went on to say, “We are pleased to note that your passion
and support for the rural, regional and metropolitan has been strengthened so that all Victorians feel at home and congratulate the Andrew’s Labor Government for the investment to enhance multicultural affairs in order to embrace respect and celebrate Victorian diversity.”
City of Ballarat Mayor Cr John Philips spoke about the City’s Cultural Diversity Strategy 2015-19. With his turn at the podium Mr Scott said it was clear the community leaders in Ballarat strongly support multiculturalism and strong ly support the sort of society where people are treated with equal rights, where people with a multicultural background are respected and celebrated. “Ballarat does a good job around some of the historical issues (multicultural) but it’s important to focus on the future,” he said. “It’s really important because I think regional Victoria, particularly those regional centres with a certain population size, like Ballarat, are growing strongly and will become more multicultural over time.”
Mr Scott condemned the incidents targeting Ballarat’s Indigenous community, most recently the anonymous letter that was sent to the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BADAC).
This letter was aimed at BADAC’s chief executive Karen Heap for publicly condemning the City of Ballarat’s controversial decision to drop Mullawallah as the name for the city’s newest suburb and attacked the wider Aboriginal community for pushing its culture onto Ballarat.
“Racism is dehumanising other people and as a society we don’t tolerate that. It doesn’t matter where you were born, what race or religion you are fundamentally we are all human-beings and afforded equal right and should be treated with dignity,” Mr Scott said. “The state government has strong laws in place against racial vilification and in this year’s budget has allocated $28 million to multicultural affairs.
“Part of the funding will be put into education programs to support multiculturalism.”