02 November 2018

A Shorten Labor Government will ensure more Australians study Asian languages to equip the next generation for the jobs and economic opportunities of the Asian century. 

Western Sydney is home to a diverse range of multicultural communities. Feedback about the importance of Asian languages has come from many community members and groups in Greenway.

According to the 2016 Census, 22% of Australia households included at least one family member speaking a language other than English at home.

In Greenway, this number is even stronger, with 45.5 per cent of households having a language other than English spoken at home. This includes almost 8,000 Punjabi speakers, more than 7,000 Hindi speakers, more than 5,000 Tamil speakers and more than 1,600 Sinhala speakers.

Labor recognises the importance of Asian languages and will invest $32 million to strengthen Asian language and literacy education in our schools.

Labor’s plan

1. To boost the supply of Asian language teachers

Up to 100 scholarships a year for Australians who are Asian language native speakers and for top performers in priority Asian languages in Year 12, to go on to study a teaching qualification.
2. Establish a new nationwide FutureAsia – Asia Capable Schools program

Intensive training for 5,000 principals and senior teachers to drive sustained whole-of-school change by supporting them to make the necessary updates to their curriculum and teacher capability.

3. Improve Asian languages curriculum materials from pre-school to Year 12

This would build on the existing Early Language Literacy App and Language Learning Space.  Hindi will be added as the first priority - Indonesian, Mandarin, and Japanese are already covered.

4. Set ambitious targets and goals for Asian languages

Working with the States and Territories through COAG, and with non-government schools too. 
5. Collect better data about the take up of Asian languages in Australia

So we can more easily track the progress and take-up of Asian languages.
Since 2011, no detailed Australia-wide data on Asian language study in schools has been collected.

6. Establish an Advisory Council on Asia Capabilities

Headed up by experts from academia, the education sector, business, and not-for-profits to drive research and generate new ideas to boost teaching and learning about Asia across all levels of Australia’s education system.

7. Undertake a whole-of-government audit of Australian and state government policies and programs on Asian literacy and languages education

To stop costly duplication and to ensure government money is well-targeted at achieving improved Asia capability.

8. Convene regular meetings of Indo-Pacific Education Ministers


To further strengthen educational links between Australia and our Asian neighbours. 

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) has welcomed Labor’s announcement to a $32 million increase in funding for the teaching of Asian languages.

The Chairperson of FECCA, Mary Patetsos, said: “This increase in resources for Asian language teaching is an important step in improving the quality and scope of language education and FECCA applauds the initiative.”

Labor has continued to develop a fundamental whole-of-government, nationwide strategy to deepen and broaden our engagement with Asia.