Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (09:43): If you ask any Melburnian what makes our city great, they will tell you it is our food, coffee, live music, festivals or theatre—it is our culture. But most importantly it is our multiculturalism and our people that make our state so special and unique. COVID-19 has significantly impacted our multicultural events and creative sectors this year, and what we have seen is real resilience and creativity from our cultural organisations to adapt and think outside the box. They have delivered their events and festivals using non-traditional media and have fully embraced the challenge to go digital.


It has been vital that we provide tangible support to these organisations so they can continue to celebrate and commemorate important cultural events, allowing members to remain connected while unable to congregate in traditional pre-COVID gathering locations. I was delighted to see that a number of my local organisations were successful in receiving funding as part of the government’s multicultural festivals and events program, including Hindi Niketan, Polish Cinema in Australia, Rajasthani Kutumb of Victoria Inc., the Australian Indian Seniors Association and the Sangam Kala Group, Australia.


I have personally had the pleasure of participating via Zoom in a number of multicultural events and planning sessions in my district of Mount Waverley, including the Victoria Tamil Senior Citizens Benevolent Society, Sewa International Victoria and the Bengali Association of Victoria. Our multicultural seniors organisations, like the Monash Senior Chinese Volunteer Service Centre, will be supported with grants made available from $2.1 million in dedicated funding through the coronavirus support.