Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently told a large gathering of community-language teachers that Australia is not defined by a common ethnicity or background but by the “shared values of understanding, kindness and respect”.
He was speaking via video link to the annual dinner of the NSW Federation of Community Language Schools which, he said, “does an amazing job teaching language to 36,000 students”.
“To me that’s pretty special”, he added.
He told over a thousand guests: “Australia’s diverse linguistic capability is one of our greatest strengths. It helps communities connect and be informed. It links us to the wider world and, for many, it’s central to culture and identity.”
Mr Morrison thanked the Federation for its commitment to our shared values and for “championing the benefits of learning another language, for more than 40 years”.
In a written message to the dinner guests, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Federation’s work was “important because fostering community language not only helps to keep cultural traditions alive, it also aids cognitive development of students”. (Article continues after image gallery)
“The New South Wales Government commends the Federations and all its stakeholders—teachers, volunteers, parents and students—for their dedication to this vital work,” she said.
In response the President of the Federation, Lucia Johns, said: “I am delighted to see the strong support from both Prime Minister Morrison and Premier Gladys Berejiklian of NSW because strong leadership is necessary to promote the value of teaching community languages. Last week, the Federation released a research paper—What are languages worth? Community languages for the future of New South Wales—which we jointly produced with Macquarie University’s Faculty of Human Sciences Multilingualism Research.”
While the research demonstrated that community languages are a means to economic, social and cultural prosperity, it warned, however, that if we were to abandon our active community support for them we would be throwing away a valuable resource, she said. “The Federation will be spurred on by this finding and we will continue to expand and develop our network of language schools,” she said.
Members of Parliament including the Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello, representing the Premier, community leaders and hundreds of community-language teachers who teach 86 languages across the state at community-run schools throughout NSW.