By NSW Minister for Multiculturalism John Ajaka
With the Premier Mike Baird taking a well-earned break this week, I am stepping in to fill his shoes in the weekly Premier’s Column.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to those of you I have not met yet. I was delighted to be appointed Minister for Multiculturalism (along with Disability Services and Ageing) by the Premier after the March election.
This appointment fulfils for me, a long held ambition to champion NSW’s incredibly important multicultural community. I am one of the almost 50 per cent of NSW residents that were either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas and I relish the opportunity to advocate for our multicultural community.
As the Minister for Disability Services, the last few weeks have been very rewarding. On 1 July I was able to deliver one of the Government’s key election commitments – starting the National Disability Insurance Scheme 12 months ahead of schedule for 2,000 children and young people in the Nepean and Blue Mountains region.
It is hard to describe the impact that this will have on people with disability, their families and carers in this region. This once-in-a-generation Scheme will revolutionise and enrich the lives of the thousands of people with disability in NSW. For the first time, it gives them complete choice and control over the services they want.
I opened the Scheme’s office in Penrith with several colleagues, but most importantly I was joined by Ms Erin Kester and her three children. Ms Kester whose three children all have autism told those of us present of the incredible positive impact that early intervention provided to her two younger children – and I am delighted that these essential services will be delivered a year earlier to those who need it in greater western Sydney.
I then attended a forum with over 1,000 people with disability, families and carers to talk about what this early roll out means to them. Speaking to these people I got a fantastic understanding of the positive impact the Scheme will have on their lives.
As Minister for Multiculturalism, I recently announced with the Premier that the NSW Government has committed $4 million over two years to develop the NSW Countering Violent Extremism Early Intervention Program.
We need to develop a long term holistic solution to this problem that builds on the strengths of our diversity and fosters a sense of hope and opportunity in our youth. This is why I will be developing the program with the community.
Over the coming months I will be working with religious and community leaders, organisations and experts to develop and deliver mentoring and support programs in priority communities across the state.
I trust that you have enjoyed this week’s column. As I said previously, I am honoured to be NSW’s Minister for Multiculturalism. I look forward to meeting those of you I have not met, in the near future.