The Australian Government has unveiled a landmark investment of $15 million over two years to promote language education and cultural preservation among Australia’s youth.
The initiative, announced by the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles, introduces the Community Language Schools grant program aimed at nurturing linguistic diversity and strengthening social connections across the nation.
Grants of up to $30,000 over two years, will be offered to eligible community language schools.
These funds will support endeavours such as expanding classes for preschool-aged children, procuring new educational resources, enhancing learning environments, facilitating teacher training, and providing financial relief to disadvantaged students.
Minister Giles, who made the announcement during a visit to one of Western Australia’s 59 community language schools, emphasized the role of languages in connecting individuals both within Australia and globally. He highlighted, “Languages help connect Australians to each other and to the world. The Albanese Labor Government is committed to strengthening our social connections and facilitating the exchange of cultures by making it easier to learn a second language.”
Minister Giles underscored the significance of early language learning, stating, “The younger someone starts learning another language, the easier it will be for them to pick it up, so we’ve included funding to support classes for pre-school aged children. It’s an investment in their future, in Australia’s future as a proudly multicultural society.”
Stefan Romaniw OAM, the Executive Director of Community Languages Australia, welcomed the government’s initiative, noting that the funding program would be a boon for community language schools across the country. “CLS plays a significant role in the delivery of language education programs nationally. This funding will be of great assistance to schools in covering operational costs. CLA looks forward to an ongoing strong relationship with Minister Giles and his Department,” he remarked.
Community language schools have historically played an essential role in preserving cultural heritage and fostering intergenerational bonds between young learners and their familial languages. These schools, with a legacy dating back to 1857, have expanded over time, with more than 700 schools now operating across the nation, instructing over 100,000 students in over 85 languages. Indian languages feature strongly in this list.
The Community Language Schools Grant program is poised to make a substantial impact on Australia’s cultural landscape.
As of September 1, further program details and an accessible application form will be accessible through GrantConnect, the Government’s grant information system at www.grants.gov.au. Applications for the grants will be accepted from September 1 to October 9, 2023.
As the Albanese Labor Government paves the way for a more linguistically and culturally diverse Australia, this initiative marks a pivotal moment in the country’s commitment to fostering linguistic pluralism and ensuring the continuity of its multicultural heritage.
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