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C22 ACT Multicultural Strategy 2010-2013

C22 ACT Multicultural Strategy 2010-2013

The ACT Government developed the Multicultural Strategy 2010-2013 to promote multicultural harmony in the ACT.

The Directorate continued to support the strategy through a number of activities under its six focus areas:


The Curriculum Requirements in ACT public schools P-10 policy requires all public schools to provide a mandatory languages program for a minimum specified time, to all students from years 3 to 8 in one of the eight priority languages:

Implementation of this policy has seen an increase in the number of students learning a language in public schools from 11,091 students in 2008 to 23,625 in 2013.

The Directorate's Languages Support Plan aims to improve the quality of language delivery by providing targeted programs of professional development to develop teachers' language and teaching skills.

The Directorate's Language Pathway Plan has been developed to ensure continuity of the language pathways in school network clusters, through each primary, high school and college.

A number of events are held on an annual basis to support student engagement with languages. This includes the annual Primary Schools Japanese Fun Day and Speech Contest, Korea Day at the Korean Embassy, a range of embassy events and several language specific speaking competitions and awards. The Directorate also supports a number of language assistants in the areas of Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish.

Growth of Asian languages

The Directorate supports eight priority languages in public schools including four Asian languages: Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Korean from pre-school to year 10. There has been a steady increase in student numbers learning an Asian language from 2009 to 2013, as a result of the Languages Implementation Plan.

Community support

The Directorate values and encourages students learning a language other than English and recognises that an additional language studied through a community language school and associated extra-curricular activities, assists to build the knowledge of students and improve literacy skills, cultural awareness and understanding of other cultures.

The ACT Government is committed to enhancing languages education by providing support to the ACT Community Language Schools Association, working with stakeholder groups, community networks and increasing links with embassies, tertiary institutions and cultural institutions for both student engagement and teacher professional learning. The Directorate contributed financial support to the National Community Language Schools Conference 'Supporting and Celebrating Community Language Schools' to be held in Canberra in October 2013.

Leading the teaching of languages

The teaching of languages in ACT schools is supported by professional learning opportunities, professional networks and education initiatives and programs for teachers, schools and students.

To support student learning ACT teachers accessed a wide range of high quality resources and programs offered by national organisations. Education Services Australia (ESA) assisted schools in the delivery of national priorities and initiatives through curriculum resources, online services and the promotion of e-learning. The Asia Education Foundation (AEF) supported teachers, principals, education leaders and school communities to implement the Australian Curriculum cross curriculum priority of Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia. The AEF also offered programs, workshops, study tours and tools for teachers to lead Asia literacy in their schools.

Two ACT schools will participate in the Asia Education Foundation's Leading 21st Century Schools: Engage with Asia Program for 2013-2014. The program will provide the opportunity for school principals to act as system leaders in implementing the Australian Curriculum Asia and Australia's Engagement with Asia Cross Curriculum Priority and the Intercultural Understanding General Capability.

Children and young people

Introductory English Centres

Introductory English Centres (IECs) are a system resource co-located in mainstream schools. The short term program is designed to support newly arrived students with minimal English language skills through intensive English language teaching prior to entry into mainstream school.

The intensive English language program is delivered in small classes and is staffed by specially trained English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD) teachers and school assistants. Transport to and from a primary IEC is provided to eligible permanent residents and some temporary residents.

EALD students in the primary IEC programs transfer to a mainstream school after two terms (20 weeks) with the possibility of an extension to three terms (30 weeks) in the IEC program.

The secondary IEC offers a three level program based on English language proficiency: Pre-intermediate, Intermediate and Advanced. Placement in the appropriate level of the program is based on the initial assessment. Students at
Pre-intermediate, Intermediate and Advanced levels attend the secondary IEC for 30, 20 and 10 weeks respectively.

In 2012-13, there were four primary IECs and one secondary IEC in the ACT:

Tuggeranong IEC was relocated from Namadgi School to Wanniassa Hills Primary School from the start of the 2013 school year.

In 2012-13, 482 new students were enrolled in the IEC programs: 363 in the primary program and 119 in the secondary program.

The Refugee Bridging Program

The Refugee Bridging Program at Dickson College caters for students, aged 16 and over, from a refugee background. The program was developed to support young refugees who face a range of social, cultural, English language and literacy challenges when entering the college sector. The program focuses on English language, academic support and the broader welfare of the student. To participate in the program, students are required to have a minimum standard of English but may still have significant English as a second language (ESL) and literacy needs.

Box C22.1: Refugee bridging through learning the guitar

Photo of refugee students during their guitar lesson

Refugee students at Dickson College learn guitar playing from Jake Lang of Fret Vision Guitar Tuition, who volunteers his time once a week to teach guitar to groups of students from refugee backgrounds.

Beti, a 19-year-old who arrived in Australia from Ethiopia two years ago, is one student learning guitar. 'We don't know how to play music language, so he writes and then we remember and then he explains for us. I love it! I've never played. It's interesting and now I am getting good' she said.

Beti and other refugee students are participating in the Refugee Bridging Program at Dickson College, of which learning to play the guitar is one element. Fret Vision Tuition donated six guitars to the college which means that students are able to take the instruments home and practice their new skills. Jake said one of the most satisfying things about the guitar program was seeing students learning and improving.

Older people and aged care

The Directorate continued to support older people from multicultural backgrounds through the ACT Adult and Community Education (ACE) program. Several ACE courses provided lifelong learning and recreational activities for older adults. A complete list of ACE courses available to older people is given in Table C16.1 in Section C16. Directorate activities for older people are also discussed in Section C23.


Directorate activities to promote wellbeing of women are discussed in Section C24.

Refugees, asylum seekers and humanitarian entrants

The Directorate funded a number of courses for refugees, asylum seekers and humanitarian entrants under the AEP program. Details of these courses are given in Section C16.

During the reporting period a number of courses were funded under the Priority Support Program for skills development of people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.

The Work Experience and Support Program (WESP) of the ACT Government aims to help people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who have difficulty gaining employment because they lack Australian work experience. The WESP aims to equip these people with office skills training and voluntary work placements usually within the ACT Public Service. The Directorate hosted four WESP participants during 2012-13.

The one secondary and four primary Introductory English Centres and the Dickson College Refugee Bridging Program continue to be the first school for refugees, asylum seekers and humanitarian entrants, including 50 students enrolled under the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's expanded residence determination (community detention) program.

Directorate representatives contributed to the identification of refugee issues through the Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Humanitarian (RASH) Coordination Committee, the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) and the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services.

The Directorate supported initiatives by local settlement service providers that celebrate World Refugee Week, including the nomination of 14 students for the Canberra Refugee Support Scholarships.

Schools continued to access the services of Companion House for advice and support for survivors of trauma and torture.

Intercultural harmony and religious acceptance

Intercultural harmony

A key dimension of the Australian Curriculum is intercultural understanding, associated with the study of belief systems, values and practices associated with people from diverse backgrounds throughout history.

Public school students are provided with opportunities to learn about, appreciate and celebrate their own cultures, languages and beliefs, and those of others, and this permeates all aspects of school life. In particular, the teaching of languages in ACT public schools recognises both the importance of developing students' capacity to communicate in another language, and an understanding and appreciation of different cultures.

Religious acceptance

Many schools offer courses in comparative religions where students are able to study belief systems from around the world with no specific focus on a single religion. Additionally, public schools may provide for instruction in a particular religion in cooperation with the community of parents and carers, and religious groups.

Section 29 of the Education Act 2004 provides for the inclusion of religious education in public schools under certain conditions.

If parents of a child at a public school ask the principal for their child to receive religious education in a particular religion, the principal must ensure that reasonable time is allowed for the child's education in that religion.

Section 29 is enacted by all public schools and is an example of religious acceptance promoted by the Directorate.

For more information contact:
Learning and Teaching
(02) 6205 2683