Community Languages Australia

Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools Associations Inc.

About Us


In operation since 1857, Australia’s ethnic schools are one of the many tools used to consolidate Australia’s identity as a truly multicultural society – a society concerned with embracing and celebrating an infinite spectrum of diversity in backgrounds, histories and heritages amongst our citizens, and in allowing the possibilities that they bring from across the ocean to thrive and flourish in an atmosphere that values tolerance and acceptance. Ethnic schools are non-profit, after-hours institutions, open to students regardless of their linguistic backgrounds, which provide training and instruction in a diverse range of languages, with a view to preserving and celebrating the culture and traditions of Australia’s multicultural tapestry. They are designed to allow all Australians to revel in the mercurial richness of cultural experiences that our unique society offers us, through promoting awareness and celebration of multicultural issues, through building a true sense of community spirit - thus highlighting and embracing diversity.

Community Languages Australia (Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools Associations) is an umbrella body designed to unite the ethnic schools of Australia, and the state-based bodies which serve as their administrators, consolidating them beneath a single, organizational banner, and in the process carrying out a number of crucial roles in the creation, maintenance, and profile of Australia’s 1400 community language schools.

These roles include:

  • The development, promotion, and implementation of activities and programs designed to assist ethnic schools in achieving their goals.
  • Promoting the cross-pollination of ethnicity and culture between schools, through social, cultural, and educational events that heighten the profile and awareness of diversity, and celebrate the learning benefits offered to students involved in cultural exchange.
  • Providing a framework through which the teaching of language, geography, history, and culture of ethnic communities may be conducted in an atmosphere of dedication and respect.
  • Promoting a sense of awareness, a mode of communication and co-operation, and a healthy atmosphere of community through engaging teachers, schools, and institutions involved in ethnic education in an easily accessible network of information, updates, and feedback.
  • The maintenance and promotion of healthy, respectful communication between bodies that deal with the administration, accreditation, and implementation of ethnic schools.

In brief

  • Community Languages Schools (or ethnic schools) are after hours language schools that provide mother tongue language teaching and cultural maintenance programs.
  • They are complementary providers of languages education to mainstream schools in Australia.
  • Their role is articulated in the National Languages Statement and National Languages Plan endorsed by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA).
  • Schools receive funding through the Australian Government's School Language Programme which distributes funding to State and Territory education jurisdictions. Some State and Territory Departments of Education provide additional funding. Parents supplement the running of schools by paying fees and conducting fund raising events to meet the additional costs of conducting classes.
  • Each State and Territory Department of Education regulates registration, accreditation and funding processes. School authorities must be a legal not for profit organization to be eligible for funding.
  • Each State and Territory and has its own Ethnic Schools/Community Languages Schools Association or Federation.
  • Community Languages Australia (CLA) coordinates the activities of all State and Territory Ethnic Schools/Community Languages Schools Associations and Federations under the umbrella of the Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools, Associations Inc. (AFESA)
Approximately 700 school authorities who conduct classes in over 1400 venues. Over 100000 students participate in the program nationally.
In 2014, 69 languages are offered nationally through community languages schools in the Prep – 10 and 42 languages at years 11 and 12.

What Are The Benefits Of Ethnic Schools?

An absolutely vital role in Australia’s communal embracement of its own diversity is played out through the education, training, and community work carried out by our ethnic schools. With Community Languages Australia providing cohesion and unity amongst both our governing bodies, and the ethnic schools themselves, these schools offer a host of services, and provide a wide range of benefits to Australians.

  • Children are naturally inquisitive about languages, particularly the amazing range that are spoken locally. Ethnic schools give children the opportunity to learn new languages, or – indeed – to solidify the grasp and comprehension of the non-English language that they speak at home through training sessions conducted outside of school hours, in a professional atmosphere which values education, diversity, and mutual respect.
  • Ethnic schools provide an interface between the bodies that promote linguistic training, cultural education and integration, and ethnic community affairs – and the wider Australian society. By giving the public the opportunity to freely enjoy and celebrate Australia’s multiculturalism, ethnic language centers contribute to the communal spirit of Australian life, in which cultures and ethnicities can co-exist in a relationship that is mutually beneficial and respectful.
  • It is imperative, then, that these schools remain adequately funded, in order to reap the maximum benefits out of the programs, activities, and events that they offer the broader Australian community. Their absence would leave a gaping hole in the cultural fabric of Australian life, with isolation and marginalization of ethnic cultures and communities replacing integration and celebration of difference.

How Can Ethnic Schools Assist You?

Ethnic language schools carry out a wide variety of roles and functions that are ready to assist you in a number of capacities. They are geared towards meeting the needs of a broad range of learner needs and skill levels, from the novice to those who are experienced in languages

  • Ethnic schools offer a range of training solutions, geared towards engaging both novices and those more experienced alike in the excitement of learning a new language, and in the adventure of the multicultural experience.
  • It is important that a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect is generated and maintained within the broader Australian community. Ethnic schools contribute to the fostering of these communities, and the raising of their profiles, through the establishing of programs and activities designed to draw attention to our richly textured ethnic landscape, and to encourage awareness of the benefits inherent in multiculturalism.
  • It is difficult to minimize alienation and marginalization of cultures within Australian society without a sound bedrock of communication. Ethnic schools provide a well-established, maintained, and accessible pathway of networks through which communication can freely flow between communities, administrative bodies, and the individual who wishes to enhance their awareness and working knowledge of the ethnic experience within Australia.
  • Cultural integration is a facet of Australian life that occurs at the educational level, by letting our children be openly exposed to the total spectrum of experiences that multiculturalism offers them. Ethnic schools provide nodal points for this process to occur, through learning programs, and courses designed to trigger celebration and awareness of the ways in which cultural difference contributes to the mosaic of experiences, attitudes, and heritages which constitute Australian life.
  • Ethnic schools provide a base of resources for students, academics, and the corporate sector alike. With an expansive archive of information, including libraries, audiovisual materials, and intimate knowledge of government bodies involved with the facilitation of ethnic education, ethnic schools are the gateway to an exciting, ever-expanding matrix of learning and knowledge. Other resources offered include photocopying and book-binding facilities.

Contact Us

Community Languages Australia

L2, 189 Faraday St,
Carlton Vic 3053

Phone: (03) 9349-2683
Fax: (03) 9349-26893