Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Australia’s multicultural policy. What impact does it have on immigrants to Australia


Australia’s multicultural policy Diversity has become a fact of Australian life, and most Australians see it and live with it every day. The debate over multiculturalism has however moved in different directions in recent years. The ALP has essentially abandoned its commitment to the concept and does not have any policy articulation at present. The ruling Liberal-National coalition, under John Howard, has defined a version of multiculturalism which reinforces the existing cultural hierarchy; reduces government support for cultural preservation; Australia’s multicultural policy and pushes integration and inter-faith dialogue as the way forward.

 In 1999, the federal government had adopted the term 'Australian multiculturalism', stressing upon the word 'Australian' and asserted the importance of social cohesion and allegiance to Australia. Three aspects of the 'Australian multiculturalism' are noteworthy.
i)  Cultural Preservation: Multiculturalism in Australia is a historic accord between the dominant society and the incoming ethnic and racial minorities. It entails that in exchange for the right to live, work and to prosper in Australia, immigrants would owe their primary allegiance to the Australian polity. The polity in recognition would validate their communal values and linguistic choices within an agreed pattern of acceptable diversity. Australia’s multicultural policy A significant change between the early 1990s and now is that whereas governments were providing some funds towards cultural preservation, they have now declined. The governmental view now is that communal matters are issues of choice, not policy; and that communities, if they so desire, could raise and commit their own resources for such affairs.


ii)   Religion and Public Life: In the 1990s, religion was not the central issue in the debate on multiculturalism. Religious diversities were part of the ethnic differences. Since 9/11 however, religious differences are seen as important. The 400,000 Muslims have experienced a growing wave of social hostility, much of which is focused on Muslim communities from West Asia and those who wear distinctive Muslim dress. Incidents such as the Bali bombing have led to violent incidents against Muslims. Much worse, local problems of violent and organised crimes take on dimensions of religious conflict. Australia’s multicultural policy These issues have focused policy attention on inter-faith dialogues; and government and community sponsored symbolic displays of inter-cultural collaboration and unity. In the process of such cooperation between government and community organisations, some attention might have also been paid to the deeplyrooted problems of unemployment and inequality.

iii) Economic Transformation and Human Capital: In its original meaning, multiculturalism had meant that governments will not allow discrimination and economic inequality to grow along ethnic and racial lines.

In recent years, this kind of a commitment has waned. Australia’s multicultural policy
With market economic approaches dominating the policy making, many ethnic groups,
who had entered Australia as poor and with low level of education and skills, are getting
ghettoised as lowincome, high-unemployment and violence-ridden under-classes.
In conclusion, one can say that 'Australian multiculturalism' is conservative and controlling of cultural differences. Such posturing and policy perspective creates an Australian polity that's high-handed and socially disconnected. 'Australian multiculturalism', in situ of enhancing social cohesion, is producing social tension and disharmony and therefore the polity is taking recourse more and more to controlling the dissidence and difference with a coercive approach

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