House debates

Monday, 30 November 2020

Statements by Members

La Trobe University: Modern Greek Language Program

4:06 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme) Share this | | Hansard source

I wish to raise a matter of importance to Greek Australians in Victoria and Greek Australians in my electorate. The Greek diaspora contribution to Australia is long and proud. From the time of the waves of immigration, especially but not limited to after the Second World War, the suburbs of Melbourne and the communities of Australia were very fortunate that so many Greeks chose Australia as their home.

But it is terribly important that young Greek Australians don't lose touch with the culture of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. So it is with much sadness that I learnt that La Trobe University is terminating its modern Greek language program. It is the only tertiary institution in Victoria providing modern Greek language teaching. Modern Greek should be part of our secondary school curriculum. But what will be the point of that if students can't take their study of modern Greek to university level? This is a great cultural loss. It is a great loss of contribution of the diaspora and it is a great loss of the Australian Greek story.

This is part of a bigger trend, where universities aren't being properly funded for the humanities. We have seen the cost of arts degrees going up and we're seeing pressure on languages. We don't want to see the death of language teaching in our universities and higher education. I call upon La Trobe University to change course straightaway. We will not give up fighting for modern Greek language teaching at La Trobe and in Victoria.