So I’m casually scrolling through my Twitter feed and stumble across a post from SBS Radio stating some breaking news that they will be launching an Arabic 24 hour radio station early next month. This all comes just over 6 months ago with radio cuts to SBS Maltese from 4 hours a week to just 2 hours, where I helped the Maltese Community Councils of NSW and Victoria, run a petition to reverse the decision to make these cuts.
I can appreciate that the Arabic speaking Australian community are a lot bigger than the Maltese-speaking community, and just to put it into perspective, there are 3 times more Arabic-speaking Australians than Maltese-speaking Australians*, so yeah, it makes sense to cater to the larger community. However, I am beyond irate to say the least, call me bias, but how is this fair?
The way I see it is; the significance of having a service like this exist, is not only appreciated by the older generation Maltese in Australia where they are not connected by social media (there many, many more reasons why they benefit from the program), but I see it as a way to keep the younger generation abreast to our mother country, by not only with what’s happening over there and in our Maltese communities here in Australia, but also it gives us the opportunity to hear the language, to stay or become familiar with the language that I am so proud to say is where my ancestors come from. To be able to hear the language my ancestors spoke, strikes a chord with me – call me emotional or whatever.
I feel one aspect of our Maltese heritage that we can keep alive here in Australia, is the Maltese language. Yes, there aren’t many younger generations that can speak, write or understand it as fluently as the older generations, but there are people like me, determined to learn it so that it can be preserved and kept alive into the future here in Australia. I find SBS Maltese one of my top resources I go to, to practice and learn, and it’s on top of my list because there are topics that I can relate to as a Maltese living in Australia.
So comparing numbers and to put things into perspective again, there are 37% Arabic-speaking Australians who were born in Australia and there are 28% Maltese-speaking Australians who were born in Australia*. So assuming these Arabic and Maltese-speaking Australians are the future as they were born here in Australia – tell me how 24 hours 7 days a week of an Arabic program, compared to 2 hours a week of a Maltese program is fair? Not to mention the numbers of those born in Australia of Maltese decent who are not recorded in these numbers as they can’t speak Maltese! Take into consideration those who can speak little or understand the language that did not state they were Maltese-speaking Australians in the census. I am one of them!
I get it, I really do get it. I would be naive not to. As stated in SBS’ breaking news article, the Arabic speaking community here in Australia is apparently growing rapidly. But tell me how cutting the Maltese language program is going to help our rapidly declining Maltese-speaking community?
If an Arabic-speaking Australian read this, they’d point out the obvious to me; yes, you outnumber the Maltese by far, like I said, I’d be naive not to take that into consideration. But I can guarantee, if a Maltese speaking Australian… Heck, you don’t even have to be Maltese-speaking, just of Maltese heritage – I guarantee you will agree with me and share in my outrage, that 2 hours a week, seriously? 2 hours a week is really, really disrespectful to our community here in Australia, and to me personally, just not acceptable. Take the bias out of it, we have a right and, are so fortunate to live in a multicultural country such as Australia, so why deny us of our language?