Migrants in Australia to be given free English classes

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Sep 23, 2020
This is a press release from Alan Tudge MP, who is the acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs

Today I introduced legislation that will allow more migrants to access more free English language classes, so they can achieve a higher standard of English and have the best chance to succeed in Australia.

The Immigration (Education) Amendment (Expanding Access to English Tuition) Bill 2020 will see one of the most significant reforms to the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) in the program's history.

It is the first part of the Morrison Government's three-part plan to make English tuition more accessible, ensure better quality outcomes and encourage greater participation.

The Bill removes the 510-hour limit on classes and will allow people to continue with the program until they reach a vocational level of English.

The time limits on enrolling, commencing and completing tuition will also be waived for those who arrived in Australia on or before 1 October 2020, meaning even those who have been here for some time can access the classes.

We are making the program more flexible to help those who are working or have caring responsibilities, including mothers. These changes may include better use of technology, online classes and on-the-job learning.

We will work closely with English language providers to ensure these reforms improve quality and results, by linking funding directly to outcomes.

From late 2021, new partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors will be required to make reasonable efforts to learn English, if they don't already have functional English. Completing these English classes will be enough to demonstrate that reasonable effort.

English is fundamental to a person's success in Australia. Without English, it is harder to get a job, harder to be an active member of the community, and harder to participate in our rich democracy.

Only 13 per cent of those with no English skills are in work compared to 62 per cent of those who speak English well.

Migrants with no English skills are also more vulnerable to fall victim to foreign interference and misinformation, and will likely find it harder to seek help if they are a victim of family violence or exploitation.

Based on recent trends there is close to a million people in Australia who do not speak English well or at all – with about half of those being of working age.

Like all Australians, the Morrison Government wants migrants to have the best chance to make a life in Australia.

The AMEP is currently delivered nationally across 58 regions by 13 contracted registered training organisations.

Migrants who want to learn or improve their English are encouraged to contact their local AMEP training organisation to find out about their eligibility and access to English classes.

More information on the Adult Migrant English Program is available on the Department of Home Affairs website, www.homeaffairs.gov.au/amep.