Mr CHARLES CASUSCELLI (Strathfield) [12.57 p.m.]: Today I bring the House up to date with the progress being made by the ministerial consultative committees set up by the Hon. Victor Dominello, Minister for Citizenship and Communities.
Mr Bryan Doyle: What a great Minister.
Mr CHARLES CASUSCELLI:He is indeed—and what a great initiative this is. The ministerial consultative committees provide an additional channel of communication and engagement between people from diverse backgrounds directly to the Minister and the Government. It is reasonably well known that I co-chair three of those committees—ministerial consultative committees for the Korean community, the Russian community and the Chinese community. I admit I have not worked out why I was not made a co-chair of the committee for the Italian community but I am sure it has something to do with the fact that its members are relatives so I could not represent them. I share the task with my co-chairs, Mark Coure, the member for Oatley, who is in the Chamber and who co-chairs the Chinese ministerial consultative committee; Matt Kean, the member for Hornsby, who co-chairs the Korean ministerial consultative committee; and Bruce Notley-Smith, the member for Coogee, who co-chairs the Russian ministerial consultative committee.
The ministerial consultative committees were formed only recently—late last year—but since then those three committees have held two or three meetings. We meet at Parliament House on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with an average attendance of 15 to 25 community leaders who represent their communities. I am delighted to say they are leaders of organisations and institutions that serve their communities very well. It is interesting to note that they seem to represent vulnerable parts of the community—for example, providers of aged care services, youth, sporting services and businesses that support the most disadvantaged in our community. I am encouraged that Minister Dominello, in his uniquely Italian way, has suggested to other Ministers that they attend the committee meetings and engage directly with these community leaders. So far, the Minister for Citizenship and Communities, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has attended. Duncan Gay, the Minister for Roads and Ports, has committed to attend, as has the Minister for Transport.
Some broad issues raised at the first committee meetings had a common theme including such things as visa-related issues, specifically dealing with the mentoring of skilled migrants. Some stringent conditions associated with these visas inhibit some individuals who are particularly attractive in their ability to contribute to the New South Wales economy. Much comment has been made about the promotion of language and culture in our State schools with specific emphasis on the amount of other languages and cultures being taught. That common theme runs across all three committees. Another issue of late is that of human trafficking and prostitution, especially with respect to Asian communities. Recently, the Minister for Citizenship and Communities asked the Community Relations Commission to undertake an inquiry to examine human trafficking and the exploitation of migrant sex workers.
The grants process also has been the subject of prominent discussion. While the Government makes available a significant amount of money through multiple grants programs, community understanding in how to complete nominations and follow the process is low. The general belief is that the most deserving communities are not receiving grants because of this lack of knowledge. Another issue was delivering culturally sensitive services to the aged and the treatment of community members on death. The Korean and Chinese communities would like that issue taken up. The challenge for us now is not the number of things these committees can address; rather, it is about selecting the top three matters the committees can undertake and in 12 months' time looking back and saying, "If it were not for our committee we would not have achieved those three things." The mission for the next committee meetings will be to select the top three issues from the 20 or 30 identified matters. I commend the Minister for this initiative.