House debates

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Constituency Statements

Calwell Electorate: Radio 3ZZZ

9:44 am

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I rise to talk about Australia’s largest multilingual institution, which reaches people and places both locally and internationally. It is an institution that has the ability to build communities, contribute to social cohesion and which, at the same time, empowers and trains thousands and thousands of volunteers. I am talking about community radio 3ZZZ, the largest ethnic community radio station in Australia, based in my home city of Melbourne.

Radio 3ZZZ can be found at 92.3 on the FM radio band. The station has been broadcasting 24 hours a day almost continuously since its inception in June 1989 and, since October 2000, the station has acquired an international audience through its internet broadcasting services. The station employs only six full-time staff and it relies heavily on the 400-plus contingency of volunteers to keep it functioning.

Radio 3ZZZ is an organisation very close to my own heart because it delivers cost-effective news, information and entertainment to more than 400,000 people Australia wide. It is also the place where I first began broadcasting my own community radio program.

The radio station covers 65 cultural groups, broadcasting 75 languages, and reaches about 100 different new and emerging as well as existing communities here in Australia. The Afghan program, for example, is broadcast in Pashto and Dari and accommodates our growing Afghani community, and the Spanish program has the largest audience and is heard by more than 25 Spanish groups from Latin America and Spain.

Station manager Martin Wright says the program helps communities, particularly new arrivals, become familiar with the Australian way of life and that it does so by disseminating information ranging from important areas of health and social services to even transport timetables. Mr Wright says that the established groups also rely on the programs that are made available because ageing ethnic communities often revert to their original language and like to continue to hear news and information in their own language.

Radio 3ZZZ is primarily financed by listener subscriptions and donations through sponsorship and through special fundraising events, including its annual two-week radiothon, which is currently being conducted. Each program must raise about $1,000 for every hour that they are on air. This is the only way the station can survive. Ethnic broadcasting has for years lobbied government to increase its funding and I would like to call on the government and the opposition to support ethnic radio broadcasting programs and to support their campaign to increase their funding to keep a very worthwhile service running, a service that is worth while to all of us including the communities it services.