BALLARAT has been announced as the second regional Victorian site for a Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) during the Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Nicholas Kotsiras’ visit to Ballarat yesterday.
Mr Kostsiras said that initiatives like these were needed to cater for Ballarat’s growing migrant population projected to increase by 15,000 by 2036.
“A number of newly-arrived families have settled in the region in the past five years including young people from Sudan and other African backgrounds,” Mr Kotsiras said.
“In addition, Ballarat university has the highest per capita quota of international students in Australia, with more than 5000 students currently, including students from India, Bangladesh and Nepal.”
CMY chief executive officer Carmel Guerra said that it would give more young people the opportunity to develop new skills and engage with their community.
The announcement coincided with the inaugural meeting for the Ballarat Regional Advisory Council of the Multicultural Commission that was held at the Finding Futures Centre.
Mr Kotsiras opened the council saying that everyone should be placed on a level playing field and given the same opportunities.
“This council needs to find where gaps in communities exist so we can fill those gaps,” Mr Kotsiras said.
Victorian Multicultural Commission chairperson Chin Tan also attended the meeting. He said the councils would provide great outreach.
“Each council will set their own agenda to find their unique issues,” Mr Tan said.
The council in Ballarat is one of eight that is being initiated over the state.
Yasser Soliman has been appointed the commissioner leading the Ballarat council.
“Real engagement with communities is now taking place. We’re taking an important step for regional communities,” Mr Soliman said.
“Ballarat has some issues that we can see elsewhere, but also some unique issues that we’ll be looking at.”
Ballarat mayor Mark Harris was excited for the launch of the council and centre. “We’re continually going through change, so therefore we have to refresh what we’re doing,” Cr Harris said.