Estimates: Multicultural Affairs DCSI (2016)




Hon. Z.L. Bettison, Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion, Minister for Social Housing, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Youth, Minister for Volunteers.


Mr Gardner substituted for Dr McFetridge.


The CHAIR: Member for Davenport, do you have omnibus questions?

Mr DULUK: Yes.

The CHAIR: Would you like to read them in now?

Mr DULUK: They are:

1.Will the minister provide a detailed breakdown of expenditure on consultants and contractors above $10,000 in 2015-16 for all departments and agencies reporting to the minister, listing the name of the consultant, contractor or service supplier, cost, work undertaken and method of appointment?

2.In financial year 2015-16 for all departments and agencies reporting to the minister, what underspending on projects and programs (1) was and (2) was not approved by cabinet for carryover expenditure in 2016-17?

3.For each department and agency reporting to the minister, please provide a breakdown of attraction, retention and performance allowances, as well as non-salary benefits paid to public servants and contractors in the years 2014-15 and 2015-16.

4.For each year of the forward estimates, please provide the name and budget of all grant programs administered by all departments and agencies reporting to the minister, and for 2015‑16 provide a breakdown of expenditure on all grants administered by all departments and agencies reporting to the minister, listing the name of the grant recipient, the amount of the grant, the purpose of the grant and whether the grant was subject to a grant agreement as required by Treasurer's Instruction 15.

5.For each year of the forward estimates, please provide the corporate overhead costs allocated to each individual program and subprogram administered by or on behalf of all departments and agencies reporting to the minister.

6.For each department and agency reporting to the minister, could you detail:

(a)How much was spent on targeted voluntary separation packages in 2015‑16?

(b)Which department funded these TVSPs?

(c)What number of TVSPs was funded?

(d)What is the budget for targeted voluntary separation packages for financial years included in the forward estimates (by year), and how these packages are to be funded?

7.What is the title and total employment cost of each individual staff member in the minister's office as at 30 June 2016, including all departmental employees seconded to ministerial offices and ministerial liaison officers?

The CHAIR: Minister, would you introduce your advisers and if you have another statement, feel free to put it on the record.

Departmental Advisers:

Mr T. Harrison, Chief Executive, Department for Communities and Social Inclusion.

Mr A. Thompson, Executive Director, Financial and Business Services, Department for Communities and Social Inclusion.

Ms S. Wallace, Executive Director, Policy and Community Development, Department for Communities and Social Inclusion.

Ms N. Rogers, Director, Business Affairs, Department for Communities and Social Inclusion.

Ms J. Kennedy, Director, Community Engagement and Grants Policy and Community Development, Department for Communities and Social Inclusion.

Mr G. Myers, Principal Coordinator, Strategic Projects and Business Affairs, Department for Communities and Social Inclusion.

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Multiculturalism is a vital and valuable aspect of South Australia, a state built upon successful waves of immigration. We have experienced unprecedented change in the diversity of our population in a relatively short period of time. In the 2015-16 state budget the government demonstrated its commitment to our many cultural communities by tripling its investment, providing an extra $8 million in grant funding over four years. This brings the state government's total investment in supporting multicultural communities to $12 million over four years.

In 2015-16 we used this funding to strengthen the social, economic and cultural participation of our multicultural communities. One issue affecting all our migrant communities is culturally appropriate services for the elderly. Older South Australians of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are the fastest growing proportion of our ageing South Australian population. In our Italian and Greek communities, over 50 per cent of members are aged 65 or older, and aged care is therefore a pressing issue. For other newer communities, issues around caring for the elderly may be different, but are no less pressing. Our Multicultural SA grant funding provides crucial support for our organisations addressing such needs.

Our Stronger Families, Stronger Communities grant connects our multicultural communities with services and programs to help them build better lives for themselves and their families. Our multicultural infrastructure grants, which will be open for another round in late 2016, provide communities with a solid foundation of grassroots infrastructure, places where they can come together and build connections within their local communities. Our new one-off grants program, Grants SA, brings together existing one-off grant programs. One of the target groups for this program is culturally and linguistically diverse groups and communities. Grants SA has simpler application procedures, less restrictive guidelines and streamlined reporting, providing multicultural communities with even greater ease and access.

This major reform aligns with the South Australian government's commitment to reduce red tape, simplify grant processes and improve accessibility to grants for community groups. Feedback from the community has been extremely positive. We continue to celebrate our cultural diversity through festivals and events. We have structured our funding to provide major festivals with greater surety of funding over the next three years. Our second multicultural festival in Rundle Mall in November 2015 gave 80,000 South Australians an experience of the rich cultural diversity that contributes so much to the vibrancy of our state and the social cohesion that underpins our way of life.

The South Australian multicultural action plan 2017-18 is now under development. It will help us respond to the increasingly diverse needs of our communities. It will provide a two-year plan for our activities and directions in the multicultural affairs portfolio, based on three key pillars: build, strengthen and celebrate. In 2015-16 our government also established a multiagency Countering Violent Extremism program under the national countering violent extremism framework. This will focus efforts on strengthening social cohesion and preventing individuals becoming or remaining radicalised to violent extremism. Nothing brings home our world's growing mobility more than, clearly, the current crisis in Syria.

In February 2016, the Premier requested the commonwealth classify our state as a safe haven enterprise visa zone, making all of South Australia available for eligible refugees to build better lives and a future for their families. This is testament to South Australia's multicultural commitment and ethos, and to our understanding that our state's multiculturalism is not only fundamental to our social, cultural and economic thriving but fundamental to who we are as South Australians.

Mr GARDNER: I will make a brief opening statement. The minister and I spend a great deal of time together at functions, and often identify that South Australia is possibly one of the world's greatest multicultural success stories. I think that is true, but it requires constant work and constant support. One of the reasons South Australia has been a multicultural success story for decades is the bipartisan nature of the engagement with multicultural communities and the support that those communities receive from all sides of the parliament. We all value the opportunities that having that multicultural community creates.

I think the investment of time, the investment of political endeavour, by so many members of parliament on both sides is important. The only person who possibly attends more functions than the minister and me in this area would possibly be the parliamentary secretary from the opposition, the Hon. Jing Lee, and I commend her for the work she does. I welcome the chief executive to this department. I appreciated the opportunities I had to talk with him when he was the chief executive of the education department and I had that role, and I hope that in this new role he has that he particularly takes the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate this area, which can be a very joyful one in which to work. But, critically, it is not just about festivals and community engagement in the joyful sense. There are serious policy outcomes that have to be delivered from this line. That is something that I support and the Liberal Party supports, and I hope the government will continue to support, as it usually does.

That said, I have some questions. Can we go to Budget Paper 4, Volume 1, pages 99 and 100. The bulk of the questions are in this area. The use of Parliament House to engage with multicultural communities is to be applauded. I have some questions about how that has been done though. Can you identify on how many occasions Parliament House has been used for receptions and functions for multicultural communities, and the expense associated with that use?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I do not believe that I have that detail in front of me. I will endeavour to get you a response before the end of this session. I imagine my advisers are listening to me. May I make mention that I have held several functions here and invited all members of parliament to attend in general or issued specific invites with an open house that is here.

For many people, it is the first time that they have ever gone into a parliament and what I see is that the accessibility here in South Australia is something they have never experienced before. Of the 124 events that I attended in the 2015-16 calendar, the majority were out in the community, because they have invited me to their events. We do from time to time hold events here, usually around a specific event; it might be Eid or Diwali. I do believe I have something celebrating the Polish community's 130th anniversary coming up.

Mr DULUK: It is the 160th.

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: It is the 160th; I stand corrected. I also know the Premier has held some events in regards to that, not always in Parliament House, but we think that it is important to recognise those events. I will endeavour to get you some detail before the end of the session.

Mr GARDNER: In relation to these events, I have certainly seen and spoken to people for whom, as the minister says, it is their first time here. They do certainly appreciate it, and I think it is an opportunity for outreach. In that bipartisan way, I notice the minister said in her response that it is an open house policy. Can she confirm that when these events happen all members of parliament are encouraged to participate in welcoming members of those communities to Parliament House for those events?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I can obviously go back into the details. I know that when I have held events—I will double-check—I have generally extended an invitation to yourself or to the Leader of the Opposition to attend. If that has not happened on all occasions, I would apologise.

Mr GARDNER: I was seeking particularly going forward, if that is the plan, that members of parliament of both sides are welcome to attend?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: That has been my intention. We do not have a particular conversation about it. I think that we should have a bipartisan approach. I will endeavour to get those details. That is always been my intention.

Mr GARDNER: Hear, hear! Thank you. In relation to those events that the Premier organises—

The Hon. J.M. RANKINE: It has not always been bipartisan. I can remember; I have been around long enough to remember.

Mr GARDNER: I am glad we had the opportunity to have that. In relation to those functions the Premier has organised, what engagement does multicultural services have with those functions?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: My advice is that Multicultural has not necessarily provided any support for those functions.

Mr GARDNER: I hope you will take the same bipartisan approach that the minister has taken and indicated today. We will move on to another line. In relation to the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission, is that funded out of this budget line on page 99, or is it subprogram 1.2: Policy and community development, or is it from somewhere else?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: We are just clarifying some of the detail about which budget line it comes out of. We do provide resources, though, to comprise three full-time equivalent employees and that remains the same budget—$409,000 for 2015-16 and it will be the same in 2016-17.

Mr GARDNER: Minister, last year you identified that the budget for SAMEAC to support three FTEs was at a cost of $304,425. You have just indicated a significantly higher number, I think, over $400,000. What is the increase?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Sorry, the figure you are saying is—

Mr GARDNER: I am just quoting from your estimates last year; you said $304,425. There was also $105,000 allocated for Multicultural SA to support the role and function of SAMEAC, so is the figure you are identifying that, as well as the three FTEs at SAMEAC?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: That is my understanding and I will just get some clarification for you. I would like to talk about some of the really active work that SAMEAC has done, the strategic priorities, economic development participation, ageing and domestic violence. One of the areas in which they have done particularly well is community engagement meetings and we have had four in the last financial year: the Afghan community on 6 August, the African community on 22 October, the Filipino community in February this year, and the Chinese community this year.

Some of the issues that have been raised in here are the need for new community facilities and upgrades to existing facilities and, of course, we now have our new infrastructure grant program that people can apply for. We talk about language barriers remaining a challenge particularly in relation to obtaining employment, and parenting challenges in balancing traditional cultures and Australian values.

That is why our Stronger Families, Stronger Communities grant program is so important because some of the messages I heard when I came in as Minister for Multicultural Affairs is that division between trying to maintain culture but also being close within the family. Also, the ongoing impacts of trauma and torture, concerns about levels of domestic and family violence and, of course, opportunities for youth engagement. Probably one of the most exciting areas is how our migrants can sell our trade message to the world, so we have often seen with our international students who study here, that some remain and some go home, and they tell a great message of what living in Adelaide is like.

I think we have an opportunity for migrants who are here, who have great connections all through the world to sell our services and our products to that world. They are our ambassadors and I would like to work more on how we can develop those linkages. There are some issues raised about challenges faced by international students including social isolation and unemployment. I really think these community engagement meetings have been incredibly successful and we will continue to do them throughout this year. We will do them in a community setting where we invite people to come along.

Mr GARDNER: In relation to that detail of the SAMEAC budget, you will confirm that and bring that back?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I would like to ask Andrew to answer your question.

Mr THOMPSON : Sub-program 1.2—

Mr GARDNER: Sub-program 1.2, and that is that $400,000 figure.

Mr THOMPSON : Essentially, the SAMEAC budget is in 1.2.

Mr GARDNER: The SAMEAC budget is not listed specifically in 1.2, hence the question. It is obviously included within that figure but, as I understand it, to be utterly clear, SAMEAC has three staff of their own plus one assigned from Multicultural SA and that is the cost of the $400,000 figure the minister identified earlier; is that correct?

Mr THOMPSON : The FTEs associated with SAMEAC, the cost of those, are in 1.2. There are no FTEs in the multicultural services sub-program.

Mr GARDNER: Are there three or four of those?

The CHAIR: Hang on, you are not cross-examining the public servant.

Mr GARDNER: I am cross-examining the minister.

The CHAIR: You can ask all you like of the minister.

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: SAMEAC has three FTEs.

Mr GARDNER: Three FTEs at a cost of?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: The financial information I have for the whole of SAMEAC is $409,000. I think I will take on notice the division of that between the FTEs and the running of the office.

Mr GARDNER: How much is the salary for the chair of SAMEAC, this year and last year?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Approximately $27,000 for the role as chair.

Mr GARDNER: Is that in addition to the three FTEs?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Yes, that is separate, as I understand it.

Mr GARDNER: In relation to the multicultural strategy that is the target on page 100, the minister mentioned in her opening statement the Stronger Families, Stronger Communities Grants, the Multicultural Infrastructure Grants, the one-off grants program. She talked about the benefits she identified of that one-off grants program, there being less restrictive guidelines for community groups and a different mode of reporting than they might have had to deal with previously. She said that that was very popular with the community groups. In relation to the multicultural strategy and these grants, I am interested in what analysis, what outreach has been done with those groups that have not been applying for grants, those groups that are perhaps less expert at writing grant applications? What support has been given to those groups?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: As I am informed, Multicultural SA has organised a range of information sessions. SAMEAC also, when it does its community engagement, raises grants and the grants process there. The Multicultural Communities Council has also run some sessions. With the new Grants SA, we will endeavour to have a continual information rollout of communication, given that this is a new grants program and a new way of doing it. I think probably all MPs have been approached, I would imagine, by community groups in their electorates, and that is why we have simplified the application process. I am very aware that people who have a digital literacy divide find it quite challenging to apply online, but we will try to cut the red tape and make it as simple as possible.

Mr GARDNER: You have also identified that the department, SAMEAC and the Multicultural Communities Council are putting information out there and running sessions, and MPs certainly put information out there. Has any analysis been done of groups that have not been engaged with the multicultural communities grants and in particular analyses in relation to the number of people coming into Australia and their community groups?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: For the 124 different events that I attended throughout the year, it is from the diverse population that we have. I think we estimated 200 different community groups. I cannot say that there were different individual groups within those attendances. As you and I both know, we have regular invites from particular groups. The Department for Communities and Social Inclusion ran a grants program looking at the grants across the communities and had a bit of a road show, so to speak, through South Australia, and those groups will continue to be included. I am happy to take it on board for us to consider, whether we need things in different languages. People have expressed a greater clarity around the regularity of the new Grants SA system, but I will take it on board. I have been to many events with very new arrival groups who are establishing their communities, and they have applied for grants through that process.

Mr GARDNER: In the minister's opening statement, she talked about the less restrictive guidelines. Can she identify in what ways the guidelines have been relaxed compared with what people previously had to go through in relation to their eligibility criteria?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I will ask Ms Wallace to give a little more detail about the different guidelines. The key issue that was raised with me was the timeliness of the grants. We would open a round and people would have to apply before an event took place. Then there would often be a three-month period from the time they applied to when they would find out, when the event happened. The timeliness was one of the key barriers, I felt. Now, the minor rounds of grants of less than $5,000 happen every month, so it is a lot more frequent.

While I will let Ms Wallace talk about any other changes, to me, the biggest challenge we had from a multicultural point of view is the ability to apply on a regular basis. Obviously, we try to say to people, 'Apply in advance, we're not going to pay retrospectively.' I see here another former minister for multicultural affairs who I am sure has had approaches by people asking for retrospective support. To me, it is important for it to be accessible. I will ask Ms Wallace to expand any specifics.

Ms WALLACE : The key changes are that organisations now only have to apply once to be assessed for eligibility across four streams of grant programs and reporting is now proportionate to the type and level of funding won by the organisation.

Mr GARDNER: I notice that in relation to some grants programs, particularly that the commonwealth has run over the years, there are exclusions such as, for example, religious groups are not entitled to receive grants. I do not believe that has been the case for our state grant system. Can you identify if there are grants that religious groups are not entitled to apply for?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Religious events are not part of those grants; it is about the communities.

Mr GARDNER: What about infrastructure?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: They are not included in the infrastructure grants applications.

Mr GARDNER: The state grants programs are excluding religious groups; is that your answer?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: The focus of these grants—and I will stand to be corrected—is about the communities and social inclusion and about the community coming together.

Mr GARDNER: Sure, but is there an exclusion there or not?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I am advised that religious groups are not precluded, but the focus of the grant is the community activity and not a religious purpose.

Mr GARDNER: I understand, and that is good news. In relation to pages 99 and 95, we have the estimated results for the year but not the actuals. Can we get those with the estimates answers, rather than having to wait for the Mid-Year Budget Review, unless you have here the individual 2015-16 actual end of year results, as opposed to the estimated results?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I will ask Andrew to answer that.

Mr THOMPSON : We are obviously still going through the end-of-year process and checking accruals and getting it audited and all the rest, so we can supply that when that information is available.

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Would you like me to list the events for the people who have received grants?

Mr GARDNER: No, not yet.

The CHAIR: I appreciate your being proactive, minister!

Mr GARDNER: We only have 10 minutes left and I would like to get in a couple more questions. On page 99, there is a financial table. Can the minister provide a breakdown of the expenses within multicultural services and explain what that budget line is for?

If I can perhaps just finish that question, I note particularly on page 99 that the 2014-15 actual figure is listed as $1.3 million, which grows to $3.4 million. I note, in the corresponding budget line last year, the 2014-15 budgeted figure was $6.6 million, which increased to $6.8 million in 2015-16. I appreciate there has been a reallocation of back-office services, but last year's budget papers suggested that there was a $200,000 increase in this program.

This year's budget papers suggest that, from 2014-15 to 2015-16, there was a $2.1 million increase in this program. I believe you when you say the grants have increased but, given the grants are dealt with, I think, under sub‑program 1.2, I am just confused as to why there is such a disparity between this year's budget papers and last year's budget papers.

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I am advised that that does include the grants. On page 99, sub‑program 1.5 does include the grants within that. As we know, there was an increase due to the grant funding to establish the infrastructure support grants programs and the Stronger Families, Stronger Communities funding program. I think you touched on the FTEs, and I think the question you might have been alluding to is the fact that there are no FTEs addressed here.

Mr GARDNER: No, they are in sub-program 1.2, I understand.

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Yes, so we believe that by having multicultural, youth and volunteers together, along with our family and community development programs, we can develop the skill set more effectively and people can work across those programs.

Mr GARDNER: Are any of these expenses on page 99 non-grant related?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: My understanding, as advised, is they are the supplies and services that are in addition to those. We also have what I guess is some grant funding that is core funding. So, we have the festivals funding and the Multicultural SA one-off grants, which are through Grants SA. We do some core funding: the Migrant Resource Centre, last year, was $25,630; ethnic broadcasters, $22,000; Multicultural Communities Council, $172,510; the Australia Day Council of South Australia, $10,000; the women's leadership course, $12,000; and we put $52,901 in for the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. Of course, you have detailed the $1 million with Stronger Families, Stronger Communities, and there is $1 million for multicultural infrastructure grants. So, that is how it is done. It is for supplies and services, I understand.

Mr GARDNER: Last year, I think there were 56.4 staff FTEs budgeted in multicultural services. I appreciate you have identified that those would be incorporated into sub-program 1.2 but, given there has been this integration with youth and volunteers, can you identify if the roles of any of those people working in multicultural services in policy-related roles still exist or not?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Those roles do exist, but the large proportion of that FTE is from the Interpreting and Translating Centre.

Mr GARDNER: I notice that in Sub-program 1.2: Policy and Community Development, we do not have any highlights or targets that are particularly relevant to Multicultural Affairs. Is there policy work in the description and objective that identifies that the program includes policy and corporate support to the Office of Multicultural Affairs? What policy support is that program unit giving the office?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Those policy officers work across multicultural, volunteer and youth. They have been working on the multicultural plan, the grants guidelines, things like that—so they work across the areas. We have talked about the STARservice Development Program and scope that are some of the highlights. Some of our multicultural communities, potentially, would have access to those programs as well. We have brought things together under this area because we think that there is the opportunity for policy and community development to be done more consistently and to have a higher standard, rather than having separate ways in which we do that. I think the standard has increased. I have been very pleased with where we are going.

Mr GARDNER: In relation to these budget papers—you can use page 90 as the reference, if you like, for Thriving Communities—are there any funds or staff outside of sub-programs 1.2 and 1.5 that are supporting Multicultural Services?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: The interpreting and translating services are in 1.1. Can I just come back to a question you asked me earlier about my events in Parliament House? I hosted, in 2015, the farewell of the Italian Consul to Adelaide—I think the member for Light was there; the Demetria Festival for the Greek community; the Diwali festival for the Indians; and in 2016 I hosted World Africa Day and a celebration of Carnevale. The total for that was $12,378.25.

Mr GARDNER: Can the minister identify all the grants given under these programs to multicultural communities in 2015-16 and all those that have so far been granted in this financial year? I am happy to take it on notice, if you like.

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I can—

Mr GARDNER: You have two minutes, Minister!

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: While I would love to detail them, I can tell you that information about these grants is available on the website, as I understand. I am happy to talk through some highlights, if you wish. We could talk about the major festivals that we have. Perhaps this is a nice way for us to end and I can talk about some of the changes we have made. We have now delineated three-year festivals, which are our significant festivals, and then we have major festivals that are regular. The major festivals include: the Unmasked African Festival, the French Market, INDOfest, Chinese New Year Festival, Carnevale Italian festival, the Philippine Fiesta, the Greek Glendi, Indian Mela, Al Salam Festival, Schützenfest and Tet.

These 11 festivals are our major festivals. In fact, one of my key goals is to mainstream these festivals. Because we are the Festival State, we do festivals well. Traditionally, while these have been rather large festivals, they have not always extended the opportunity to all South Australians, so I am endeavouring to work with these groups.

In fact, we have just had a meeting with these 11 participants, because there are numerous costs when you host a festival, including the insurance costs, the security costs, the hiring of the venue, where people park, etc. I am facilitating with the event leaders about how we can potentially do a group booking for some of these things. That will not be the role of government to actually do that booking, but to facilitate the opportunity. Now that these 11 events are locked into our calendar, how can they bring down their costs?

Mr GARDNER: How were those 11 chosen. I do not have any issue with any of them, but how is it them and not the twelfth or thirteenth that get into the list as major festivals. I think there might have previously been fewer?

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Yes, there were fewer. But there were many events that we had funded, sometimes for decades, that were consistently increasing with larger crowds, and one of the things I felt that I could give them was certainty about their funding, and that is why they had the three-year funding deal. When we look at different growths within our population, we know that definitely the Indian and the Chinese communities have increased dramatically. Probably one of the groups that has not been acknowledged is the Filipino community, that has actually been coming over 50 years, in many different ways that we have.

This major festival funding was first established in 2013-14 and the focus was on about proven capacity to stay significant festivals that reach out to all South Australians, impact on the community and they represent the broad cultural diversity of South Australia.

The CHAIR: Thank you so much, minister. I declare the examination of the proposed payments be adjourned until later today.

Sitting suspended from 12:32 to 1: 30.