A new Digital Literacy program is helping culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Victorians improve their language and digital skills in preparation for further study and meaningful jobs. The Digital Literacy pre-course was started in response to the online transition of programs during the COVID-19 pandemic and because many Australian Multicultural Education Services (AMES) clients had not used a computer or smartphone before arriving in Australia.
Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney visited AMES in Werribee to meet teachers and students and see the program in action. The program began at AMES in March to provide participants with a foundation to use emails and services like myGov, search for jobs, create strong passwords and understand cyber safety.
The program was co-designed by people who were refugees and asylum seekers, for migrants from places like Syria and Iraq, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Venezuela. Neten Tshering, who arrived from Bhutan, lives in Diggers Rest with his family and joined the program to improve his English with the hopes of securing a job in the local community.
AMES is supported by the Victorian Government and the Digital Literacy pre-course complements its existing settlement, language and employment services, which are delivered to more than 50,000 clients each year.
“This is an important program that will ensure no Victorian is left behind — and that people from CALD communities have the support to improve their communication skills, enter the workforce and live their best lives. We are committed to strengthening the skills and training sector to prepare people for the most in-demand jobs and bolster the economy as Victoria emerges from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Minister Tierney.
The Victorian Budget 2020–21 includes an annual overall investment of $1 billion to strengthen the training and skills system as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. It includes more than $800,000 over four years for AMES to support Cultural Safety Training and the Career Mentors for Multicultural Learners Program. It will also provide further support to establish a Multicultural Learning Partnership to improve core skills in Victorian CALD communities.
“AMES is thrilled to be supporting Victoria’s multicultural community and refugees to improve their skills as well as access services, information and employment opportunities,” said Catherine Scarth, AMES Chief Executive Officer.