Australian politicians have a love-hate relationship with the term multiculturalism.
Sometimes it simply disappears from the list of approved terms, and at other moments its met with warm embrace from the most unlikely candidates. Just this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison celebrated Australia as “the most successful multicultural country”.
Is Australia the most successful multicultural country? That’s a tough one. When thinking about how people from different backgrounds experience Australia, there are different realities to consider.
With a terribly fraught policy towards refugees and asylum seekers, migrant insecurity, the persistence of overt racism and the absence of reconciliation with Australia’s First Nations – the Prime Minister’s description appears overly ambitious.
Just this week, the Government’s travel ban on flights from India and surrounding rhetoric felt a long way removed from many people’s views of Australia as a tolerant and inclusive nation. Moments like these can be very depressing, but one of the reasons why I started Imagining Australia was to look at important issues without being limited to the here and now.
I feel that with such a strong focus on disappointments and challenges, we lose sight of special dynamics and relationships that have been forged in the community. Our transformation into a community where 30% of the population is born overseas (a figure that has increased from 10% since after World War Two), with the fastest migrants groups coming in from India and China, is incredible.
When I think about how attitudes have changed and continue to change for the better, then I believe there is a lot to feel incredibly proud of in how we generally treat one another. That’s how I felt after producing this episode of Imagining Australia and I hope it comes through on the podcast.
On Episode Two, we define multiculturalism as the celebration of difference and a commitment to allowing people to continue practicing what is culturally important to them. And in talking with a mixture of experts and residents of Footscray (one of the most diverse pockets of Melbourne), there is a strong view that multiculturalism is not just alive but also flourishing in Australia.
This episode of Imagining Australia provides an upbeat take on what the face of Australia will look like in 2031 and the future of multiculturalism and migration. There is a sense of optimism that the country is on a great track in embracing others regardless of their cultural background. They’re hopeful that this trend, which has taken the country away from the White Australia policy to a nation that attracts people in droves from all pockets of the world (once the borders open up), will have positive effects in all aspects of daily life in 2031.
While many inconsistencies remain, there is hope that a more diverse face of Australia will eventually put to rest ambivalence and misdirection in Canberra.
Evan Wallace http://www.evanwallacetalks.com
Mark Wang – CEO, Museum of Chinese Australian History
Rebecca Wickes – Director, Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre
Paul Power – CEO, Refugee Council of Australia
Residents of Footscray
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