CEO message: April

Last week saw the announcement of two significant policy changes that will make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of young people.

Firstly, the Federal Government’s changes to immigration laws, giving many New Zealand citizens living in Australia a direct pathway to Australian citizenship. CMY has worked closely with many Pasifika young people and families with New Zealand citizenship who these changes will effect, and through our Le Mana Pasifika Project has extensive links into the communities. We have seen firsthand how the entitlement restrictions have impacted young people and families who have lived in Australia for many years and contributed to the economy. These changes will see benefits such as access to Centrelink, Medicare, and free TAFE available to New Zealand citizens. These changes are welcomed but well overdue. Read more on the changes here.

Earlier in the month, our Le Mana Pasifika team, in partnership with Swinburne University, the National Rugby League (NRL) and NRL Victoria, celebrated the launch of the new Sa’ili le ala project, which will give Pasifika secondary school students a taste of university and experience of higher education learning during the school holidays. Funded by the Federal government, this innovative program was launched by Attorney-General the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus on Friday 14 April, and will support and inspire the student participants to develop knowledge and skills to future-ready career paths that are aligned with the 21st century jobs.

We also acknowledge the Victorian Government’s decision to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 next year – the first step in a staged approach with a view to raising the age to 14, the international standard, within four years. While this is a step in the right direction, CMY has long been advocating for raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14, as well as calling for stronger legislative protections to ensure that children and young people are diverted away from the criminal justice system. You can read more in our earlier paper, Uneven Justice: Addressing multicultural youth overrepresentation in the Victorian Youth Justice System.

In the next month, we look forward to hearing more on Victoria’s State Budget. We hope the Government will continue its support of vital community programs that tackle the drivers of inequality, poverty and discrimination.

Carmel Guerra OAM
Chief Executive Officer