30 years of specialist support for multicultural Australians

Multicultural Service Officers from the Department of Human Services have been recognised for three decades of support to new migrants and refugees as they establish their lives in Australia.

General Manager Hank Jongen said for 30 years these specialist staff have played a crucial role helping new arrivals access government services and payments.

‘Last year alone, our Multicultural Service Officers helped more than 185,000 people and delivered over 1,200 information sessions to newly arrived refugees,’ Mr Jongen said.

‘Many officers come from a migrant or refugee background themselves.  They have been key in helping multicultural Australians understand and adapt as the department transitions to digital services.’

When the program started in 1989 there were only a few specialist staff working mainly in Sydney and Melbourne.

The department now has a national network of 70 Multicultural Service Officers working around Australia, including regional areas like Armidale in New South Wales and the Gippsland region of Victoria.

The program is one of the many successes of the department’s Multicultural Servicing Strategy. 

A new strategy which outlines the department’s priorities for the next three years is being launched today. It will ensure services meet the needs of multicultural customers now and into the future.

It also acknowledges the diversity of people who access government services and support. More than one in five, or 22 percent of Australians say they come from a culturally and linguistically diverse background.

Reflecting the community it serves, 25 percent of department staff also come from multicultural backgrounds, representing 145 countries and speaking more than 36 different languages.

You can read the department’s Multicultural Servicing Strategy here.