MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:33): Last week I was proud to announce the Victorian government’s expansion of the asylum seeker VET and Reconnect programs, which is a $6 million investment from the 2021–22 Victorian budget. These programs ensure people seeking asylum can access training and support in Victoria and make valuable contributions to our society.
The announcement coincided with the 70th anniversary of AMES Australia. AMES has transformed the lives of migrants and refugees. AMES was born of the work of remarkable volunteers who in 1951 taught English in humble Nissen huts in north-east Victoria. They were a community supporting people who had fled war-torn countries and were starting a new life. Their work is just as important and life changing in 2022 as it was in 1951. I am proud that the Andrews Labor government supports the critical role they play in supporting evacuees and refugees from Afghanistan through their quarantine process; connecting them with local Afghan communities; finding housing, schools for children, health care and government services; and connecting them with language and education and employment pathways.
The work of AMES is profound, and that is why last year I was proud to present Cath Scarth, the AMES CEO, with the 2021 Lynne Kosky lifetime achievement award. Diversity and multiculturalism make us strong, and the work of AMES Australia makes a significant contribution to our society. I ask the house to join me in congratulating AMES Australia on over 70 years of service to our rich and diverse community and welcoming and supporting our refugee community.