By Jessica Anstice
Construction has started at Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara temple in Berwick, following a $780,000 boost from the Federal Government.
Originally, the project received $500,000 from the government to build a new education centre to ensure Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara can deliver a full suite of community support programs now and into the future.
Member for La Trobe Jason Wood committed a further $280,000 funding towards the project.
“This funding will deliver a separate building that will be used to deliver key language support programs to help migrant communities integrate into their new life in Australia better,” he said.
“It is easy to take for granted the impact that language skills have on an individual’s sense of comfort and belonging.
“If you’ve never learned a language, or lived overseas without local language skills, you will struggle to understand how much your ability to speak the local language impacts everything you do – it helps you catch public transport, buy groceries, pay bills, enrol your kids in classes and programs and speak to teachers at school.”
Mr Wood said that without adequate language skills, new migrants are “like a ship lost at sea”.
“The granting of this funding to complete the Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara Multicultural Education and Resource Centre will give so much more to this community than some language lessons,” he explained.
“It will help support migrant families to more easily settle in to our Australian community so that they can become part of the rich fabric of society that we have here in Berwick.
“Language helps you become a part of a local community, but it also helps you to give back to your community.”
The demand for language classes at Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara has been increasing every year, with 450 students currently enrolled at the language and cultural school.
“In addition to the language lessons that the school will continue to provide, this new centre will allow various school functions, like the year-end concert, prize giving and other events to be held for the community,” he said.
“This building will also be used for activities such as events for our older members, where they can gather during weekdays to network and get skills such as the ability to use a computer confidently, improve their English and generally meet and socialise with their peers.
“The new centre would showcase the community’s history and personality by bringing diverse members of the community together to share knowledge and skills.”
Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara also provides a youth program of alumni of the language school so students can come together and discuss any issues they are facing at school, university or in their work places.