What a start to the year it has been!

Despite the small hiccup at the beginning of the year (the rapid three-day lockdown in Greater Brisbane), we’ve had a great start to the year at Access.

Last year, our parent organisation SSI and Access were chosen as employment facilitators for the Wivenhoe, Gold Coast and Sydney South West regions for the Federal Government's $62.8 million Local Jobs Program. 

As part of this program, a dedicated team from Access and SSI will be working with employers, employment service providers and training providers to match jobseekers with appropriate employment and training opportunities in these regions across both states. This program is a crucial part of the COVID-19 recovery and our team is already hard at work, addressing both community and jobseeker needs to help boost the economy of some of our hardest hit regions.

Meanwhile, we are continuing to see our NDIS program go from strength to strength, with the launch of a brand new website to ensure clientele and allied health can find out more about our services in this area.

Our arts organisation, BEMAC, which supports multicultural artists, secured almost $100,000 in funding from Australia Council for Arts to put towards the development of more online programs.  

We are also excitedly preparing for our official return to office Monday, 1 March, 2021.

While there is much to celebrate at our organisation at the moment, the Scanlon Foundation Research Institute’s recent Mapping Social Cohesion Report was quite concerning for many of us at Access.

Despite some positives – such as the vast majority of Australians (84 per cent) endorsing multiculturalism – non-English-speaking migrants are still facing high-levels of racism and discrimination, and continuing evidence of a relatively high level of negative opinion towards Australians of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern background.

While it’s heartening to see most of us are proud of our strong multiculturalism, I believe more must be done to counter racism in our communities. Access recently put our name to the call for an Australian Charter for Human Rights, so that everyone in Australia knows their rights and can take proper action if these rights are violated. We also wholeheartedly support SSI's calls for the implementation of a national anti-racism strategy.

I have long been hoping the pandemic will be a reset button for society; that it will show how we are stronger when we join forces and work together. I still believe in that sentiment and support Access and SSI’s core values of working with and for community for better outcomes. 

Gail Ker