Multiculturalism issues feature in state election

first_imgInterpreter services, racism and community languages were the hot issues, as Victoria’s ethnic community groups met key Victorian politicians on Thursday night. Multiculturalism gives Victoria our competitive edge. Just over three weeks before the state election, the Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, James Merlino, Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism, Nick Kotsiras, and the Greens spokesperson for multiculturalism, Colleen Hartland, spoke about their parties’ approaches. President of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) Sam Afra, said he was pleased to see a bipartisan approach to multiculturalism in the state. But, while they agreed with Merlino that “multiculturalism gives Victoria our competitive edge,” the three parties are divided on the best way to put multicultural policy into action. Merlino spoke about the government’s record, listing $10 million in spending on cultural precincts, $5.6 million for the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) and legislative changes including the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act as major achievements. “We are proud of these achievements, but there’s more to do,” he told the crowd, citing interpreter services as a policy area needing attention. Both Merlino and Kotsiras foreshadowed more announcements about multicultural policy, in particular community languages, in the lead-up to the November 27 state election. Kotsiras reiterated the importance of diversity in Victoria, and said that under a Coalition state government, the VMC would be made more independent from the government, and its funding levels and remain the same, “in fact it will be increased”. He said the VMC would work more directly with community groups. “You’re the experts, not bureaucrats, not ministers,” he said. Hartland said Victoria had a long way to go on multiculturalism, particularly with racism, youth engagement and translating services. She told the crowd she’d attended a translating workshop recently, “and I have to say I was a little horrified”. Work conditions for Victoria’s 1500 interpreters came under attack, with one audience member telling the speakers they receive “$19 for one hour’s work then they go home again”. “It’s becoming more of an issue as communities get older and revert to their original language,” Merlino said. “Think about the Italians, the Greeks, the Chinese,” he said, foreshadowing a new ALP strategy for translating, with a greater focus on technology. Hartland said the Greens were in favour of abolishing TAFE fees for translating courses to deal with the shortage of workers. Tensions rose when Jason Kambovski, from the self-declared Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee, demanded the speakers recognise him as “Macedonian”, rather than “Slav-Macedonian”. “It’s racist, it’s discriminatory and it’s not how our community wants to be named,” he said. All the speakers said foreign affairs were a federal matter. “We’re not going to refer to nations, in a way that’s contrary to the way that federally and internationally, countries and communities are referred to,” Merlino said. Ms Hartland said she intended to speak to the Greek community about “what is clearly a sticking point”, although she acknowledged it is a federal matter. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

The planets premier health agency has announced drastic reforms Critics say they

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country In a speech last week, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recalled the posters about smallpox that he saw as a child in his hometown Asmara, in what is now Eritrea. “I remember hearing about an organization called the World Health Organization [WHO] that was ridding the world of this terrifying disease, one vaccination at a time,” he said. Much has changed since then. Smallpox was vanquished; Tedros, who’s Ethiopian, is the first African head of WHO; and in a series of reforms laid out in the same speech, he is trying to restore the storied organization to health.The changes aim to bring more talent to WHO and improve coordination between its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and six regional offices. But some observers say Tedros’s agenda doesn’t address long-standing problems, including a chronic shortage of money, little power over how to spend it, and the regional offices’ prickly independence. “The main problems of WHO are unsolved by this reform,” says Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.Founded in 1948 as a United Nations agency to promote public health, WHO is partly financed by 194 member states, but most of its $4 billion annual budget comes from donors, many of whom earmark their contributions for specific projects. Tedros became director-general in 2017, succeeding Margaret Chan, who was heavily criticized for her handling of the West African Ebola epidemic. In last week’s speech, Tedros recalled the lofty new goals WHO set last year: ensuring that by 2023 1 billion more people benefit from universal health coverage, 1 billion people are better protected from health emergencies, and 1 billion people enjoy better health. To achieve them, Tedros said, will require “changing the DNA of the organization.” By Kai KupferschmidtMar. 12, 2019 , 3:25 PM Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited an Ebola treatment center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 9 March. L. 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email The structure of WHO’s head office will change with the creation of key new positions. Indian pediatrician Soumya Swaminathan has been named to the new post of chief scientist, tasked with making sure “WHO anticipates and stays on top of the latest scientific developments,” said Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of WHO’s Africa office in Brazzaville. (She mentioned a recently established panel on gene editing as one example.) A new division headed by Swaminathan will house a Department of Digital Health to work on guidelines for issues such as patient confidentiality and big data. A new assistant director-general will oversee the fight against antimicrobial resistances.Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward, who headed a “transformation team” that prepared the reform, says many changes are meant “to encourage the best and the brightest to think about WHO as a place where you spend your career.” Right now, he explains, “Most people who come into WHO spend a couple of years here, or they stay 4 years but without a properly structured career progression.” Staff will be evaluated every 2 months instead of twice a year, and a new career path will be opened for scientists who want to stay in technical areas instead of becoming managers. A new WHO Academy in Lyon, France, will train health professionals.Staff at headquarters will also have to rotate to regional or country offices in the future, which Gostin says should make the organization more diverse and more flexible. “WHO staff have been too white, too old, and too comfortable living in Geneva,” he says. Jeremy Youde, a global health expert at Australian National University in Canberra, agrees that greater staff mobility is key because it “can help build greater competency and understanding of local conditions.”Youde is cautiously optimistic about the changes. “Tedros came into the position at a time when WHO needed to rediscover its mission and reassert its value within the global community. These reform efforts are a tantalizing possibility for WHO to do that,” he wrote in an email. But Gostin says the changes amount to “a lot of bureaucratic restacking the deck.” WHO’s annual budget is smaller than that of many U.S. hospitals, he says, and donors tie the agency’s hands: “I don’t think any organization could thrive under those circumstances.” Then there is the independence of the regional offices, which dates back to WHO’s founding and is often described as its “birth defect.” “It’s hard to see whether WHO can be more efficient or work more harmoniously without addressing it,” Youde wrote.But Aylward says the reform begins to change the dynamic by clearly dividing up competencies. In the past, an issue like food safety might be the responsibility of one division in Geneva and another in a regional office, or might not be addressed at all, he says. “So when you have a foodborne outbreak or problem it is not clear: Who is the lead? How do you coordinate across the levels?” Now, headquarters will focus on things like the research agenda and global partnerships while leaving day-to-day technical work to the regional offices.There is a lot at stake both for the agency and for Tedros, who has a 5-year mandate. “I’m really curious to see whether these reforms can be his signature accomplishment (or failure, if they don’t work),” Youde wrote. “They could make or break Tedros’s tenure.” The planet’s premier health agency has announced drastic reforms. Critics say they aren’t drastic enoughlast_img read more