John Ajaka meets with Western NSW Regional Advisory Council

BUILDING TIES: Minister for Multiculturalism John Ajaka and Western NSW Regional Advisory Council chairman David Knoll AM. Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI 1129dcajaka1

BUILDING TIES: Minister for Multiculturalism John Ajaka and Western NSW Regional Advisory Council chairman David Knoll AM. Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI 1129dcajaka1

WITH non-English speaking migrants continuing to encounter challenges as they settle into their Australian homes, the Western NSW Regional Advisory Council had the opportunity to meet with Multiculturalism Minister John Ajaka to discuss their concerns.

RAC chairman David Knoll AM said the forum on Tuesday was the council’s fourth since it formed in May.

The meeting, held at the Home and Community Care Centre in Orange, involved representatives from as far as Condobolin and a representative from Lightning Ridge joined via phone link.

Mr Knoll said several concerns had been raised, particularly with access to interpreters for those whose first language was not English.

“Some professions do it better than others,” he said.

“If you are a person still learning English and you are going to see the doctor, a doctor has access to an interpreter, but if they need 10-20 visits to a psychologist, it’s not provided when it’s still a health issue.”

He said housing was another challenge because real estate agents and landlords were not always comfortable with people with English as a second language.

“Real estate agents are not recognising people who don’t speak English might make good tenants,” he said.

“It’s not deliberate but it’s subtly there.”

Mr Knoll said the solution was education.

“It’s about capacity building and working with professionals, businesses and service providers,” he said.

Mr Ajaka said Orange had a proud migrant history and the tradition continued in the way the community engaged with new Australians.

He said a number of other items were discussed during the meeting, including the accessibility of English classes and concerns about the social and geographic isolation of multicultural communities.

“The next Western NSW RAC will meet in the new year to continue addressing and finding solutions to issues concerning cultural diversity in the region,” he said.

“I’m pleased to see Orange leading the way in engaging newly emerging communities in regional New South Wales with many successful partnerships encouraging more inclusive communities.

He said it was fantastic to see a diverse range of community representatives part of the Western NSW Regional Advisory Council.

“This ensures I’m aware of the voices of culturally diverse communities, acting as my eyes and ears in the region,” he said.

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