Australia’s migrant and refugee arrivals, including Bundaberg's Sintisa Nura, will be entitled to fee-free English language tuition from this week.
It's all thanks to new legislation which champions successful settlement for migrants and refugees by spearheading the largest reforms to the Adult Migrant English Program in over seventy years of delivery.
The government-funded program, which places an emphasis on the development of spoken and written English, contextualises learning with lessons in Australian culture, digital technology, resume development and employability skills.
As the state provider of the AMEP, TAFE Queensland delivers classes across 34 locations to a cohort of diverse cultural backgrounds, age groups, education levels, and life experiences.
“This is a life-changing opportunity for thousands of people who were previously ineligible for the AMEP, or who completed their hours but need further support,” Executive Director of TAFE Queensland English Language and Literacy Services Scott Bray said.
New legislation will remove the program’s 510 hour tuition cap and raise the language proficiency levels students can achieve within the program.
Additionally, migrants who arrived to Australia on or before 1 October 2020 will no longer be impacted by time limits to registration, commencement or completion of tuition.
“These developments are significant for students with critical language needs, such as refugees without prior formal education, or those whose health complications or personal matters preclude full-time or consistent study,” Mr Bray said.
“Boosting the language standard also cements a greater potential for students to step out of our classrooms and straight into the workforce. The flow-on from these changes will be astronomical,” he said.
Sintisa participates in program for second time
Bundaberg's Sintisa Nura knows firsthand how the AMEP helps with language barriers.
After moving to Bundaberg from Indonesia, Sintisa decided to enrol in the program in 2004 while she was waiting for her permanent visa.
As her primary language at this time was Indonesian, Sintisa wanted to learn English to help her assimilate to her new home.
Sintisa said she enjoyed having the opportunity to learn and develop her skills, using her 510 hours of free tuition under the AMEP’s former legislation.
However, upon returning from Indonesia in December 2020 after living there for four years, Sintisa said she felt out of practice with her English skills and had lost the confidence with the language that she needs to gain employment.
Following the legislation changes that came into effect this week, Sintisa has been able to re-engage with the AMEP and work towards achieving a level of proficiency she feels confident in.
In addition to English language classes, the reforms will entitle more migrants and refugees to access the AMEP’s Work Ready program, which delivers employment-focused tuition and up to 80 hours of work experience with a local employer.
The AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. In Queensland, the AMEP is delivered by TAFE Queensland, and is available across 34 locations.
For more information about the AMEP, please visit tafeqld.edu.au/amep.