Victoria is home to one of the most culturally diverse societies in the world, and is also among the fastest-growing and most culturally diverse states in Australia. In fact, the 2016 Census shows that of the Victorian population:
- almost 30 per cent were born overseas
- almost 50 per cent were born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas
- 26 per cent speak a language other than English at home – 260 languages all up.
Our standards of living and levels of social cohesion rank among the highest in the world. Over the next 35 years, it is anticipated that migration will maintain sustainable population growth, and drive economic and skills growth. During this time migration is projected to:
- Contribute $1.6 trillion to Australia’s GDP
- Lead to a 60 per cent increase in the number of Australians with a university education
- Add almost 16 per cent to the Australian workforce participation rate.
Victoria provides many supports to people from culturally diverse backgrounds or new to Victoria, but gaps remain, particularly in support for those living in rural and regional areas, and for gender equity, financial counselling and drug and alcohol services.
More culturally diverse people and families are settling in rural and regional Victoria, helping to alleviate population and economic decline, adding to cultural vibrancy, revitalising local businesses and attracting increased investment.
To fully participate in their communities, people settling in Victoria need culturally appropriate translation, settlement and health services, and community engagement opportunities. Regional leaders confirmed this during VCOSS’ regional engagement project this year.
To support girls and women from other cultures to reach their full potential, funding and resources are needed for culturally sensitive information to prevent and address domestic and family violence, and gender equality and rights education should reach every Victorian equally. For Victoria to lead the world in addressing the causes and impacts of family violence, resources should be directed to culturally tailored services, including employing bilingual and bicultural workers and better cultural competency training for all family violence workers in Victoria. Similarly, culturally competent and bilingual drug and alcohol prevention and treatment services can improve access for marginalised communities.
People born in a non-English speaking country are more often in severe and high financial stress than people born in an English-speaking country, and financial literacy levels among people new to Australia can be low. Specialist financial counsellors can provide culturally responsive training in household budgeting to avoid financial hardship.
Everyone should be able to pursue a good life in Victoria, no matter where they were born or who their parents are. Let’s ensure that everyone feels welcomed, that their cultures are understood and celebrated, and that they are supported to participate fully in all aspects of Victorian life.