Please enable javascript to view this page in its intended format.

Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies

Australia

Flag
TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 5 8 8


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and/or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • In a 1977 report entitled Australia as a Multicultural Society, a government-appointed body, recommended that Australia adopt a policy of multiculturalism; the first such policies were implemented in 1978. Although the policy framework has evolved over time, it has been affirmed in successive reports, most recently in 2003 when the government released Multicultural Australia: United in Diversity, which set the strategic direction for the coming three years. This policy statement continues to guide Australian multiculturalism (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2007b).
  • In recent years, the policy discourse has shifted somewhat from the language of multiculturalism (with that term removed from the name of the Department responsible for the program) to the language of diversity, social cohesion and harmony, with security concerns sometimes linked to the agenda (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2009d).
  • Nonetheless, there remains a commitment to the principles of multiculturalism, with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship responsible for implementation. Between 2000 and 2006, the Department was advised by the Council for Multicultural Australia (Commonwealth of Australia 2003). In 2008, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship appointed members to the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council, which is tasked with advising the government on social cohesion, immigrants’ social and civic participation, overcoming racism, and communicating the benefits of diversity (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2009b).
  • At the sub-national level, all states have agencies or ministries responsible for multiculturalism (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2007a). In some cases, multiculturalism is implemented through a policy document or framework (e.g., Northern Territories’ Building on the Territory’s Diversity), while other states have affirmed multiculturalism through legislation (e.g., New South Wales’ Community Relations Commission and Principles of Multiculturalism Act; Victoria’s Multicultural Victoria Act) or a charter (e.g., Western Australia’s Multicultural Charter).
  • Arrangements at the local level vary, although generally principles of multiculturalism are integrated into municipalities’ mandates (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2007a). For example, the state of New South Wales requires that local governments within their jurisdiction develop access and equity initiatives that target minority communities. They recommend the use of the state’s Multicultural Planning Framework (Community Relations Commission 2009). Meanwhile, the Government of Western Australia’s Office of Multicultural Interests has been housed, since 2009, within the Ministry of Local Government, making clear the institutional link between municipalities and multiculturalism (Office of Multicultural Interests 2009).


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Education is a responsibility of the Australian states, although multiculturalism policy at the national level has extended into areas of sub-national jurisdiction. In addition to emphasizing cross-cultural understanding and language acquisition, anti-racism education is an explicit element in Australia’s multicultural school curriculum (Leeman and Reid 2006).
  • This has been the case largely since the 1978 Galbally report, which recommended that the Australian government implement multiculturalism into a broad swath of policy areas. Multiculturalism perspectives were integrated into school curriculum, as were anti-racism, prejudice and stereotyping programs (Extra and Yagmur 2002). There was some erosion in this policy area in the mid-1980s, when the federal government cut funding for the Multicultural Education Program, but the funding was reinstated the following year, largely as a result of public outcry (Castles 1992).
  • At present, there are a number of examples of multiculturalism being integrated into school curriculum at the state level. For example, in Victoria, the Multicultural Victoria Act requires that school curriculum promote and affirm multiculturalism, while in New South Wales, a Multicultural Education framework includes a Cultural Relations and Community Education Policy, anti-racism initiatives, and refugee support programs (New South Wales Department of Education and Training 2009). The Government of New South Wales, in partnership with the Victoria and Queensland governments, has also created an online portal, Making Multicultural Australia, which includes multicultural education resources (Board of Studies New South Wales 2009). In 2000, the Government of South Australia created the Multicultural Education Committee, which advises the Minister of Education on language and multicultural education programs (Government of South Australia 2009).


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation/sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is governed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983. Section 6 of the act stipulates that the broadcasting system provide “programs that contribute to a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community.” It provides, further, that the ABC shall take account of Australia’s multicultural character in its provision of broadcasting services. Section 33 of the act stipulates that the ABC will ensure non-discrimination in its hiring practices.
  • In addition, the government funds the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), which is the country’s multicultural and multilingual broadcaster; it has television, radio and online components. SBS began in 1975 with two radio stations; its radio network—purportedly the most linguistically diverse in the world—now broadcasts in 68 languages. The SBS added two television stations in 1980 and gradually expanded to include broadcasts in more than 60 languages. The SBS’s online component streams audio in more than 68 languages. Eighty percent of the SBS’s funding comes from government sources (Special Broadcasting Service 2009).
  • Although the government announced its intention in 1986 to merge the Special Broadcasting System with the Australian Broadcasting system, these plans were abandoned following the mobilization of ethnic communities who opposed these measures (Castles 1992). This policy area has thus remained relatively unchanged since the 1980s.


4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

    Yes, although uneven.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 1 1

Evidence:

  • Exemptions have emerged gradually over the past two decades, largely in response to demands from affected communities.
  • Australia’s multicultural framework has engendered some sensitivity toward dress code accommodations, and there are a number of examples of exemptions at the state level. For example, in 2004, the uniform of the Victorian Police Service was amended to allow officers to wear the hijab (Edwards 2004). This is also the case in West Australia, which in 2006 instituted a blanket exemption to its uniform policy to accommodate religious beliefs (Daily Telegraph 2006). Still, there continue to be some tensions, including the refusal of a Brisbane school to admit a Sikh boy unless he removed his turban and cut his hair in compliance with the school’s uniform policy (McKenna 2008). Moreover, while exemptions to helmet laws have been granted in some states, others have ceased such exceptions and do require Sikhs to wear helmets while on motorcycles (Sikh Association of Western Australia 2009).


5. Allows dual citizenship

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Prior to 4 April 2002, Australian nationals who acquired the citizenship of another country automatically lost their Australian citizenship. However, the country now allows dual citizenship for all citizens (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2009c).


6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

    Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • In the late 1960s and 1970s, a grant-in-aid program provided funding to ethnic groups, but this was solely to support the delivery of welfare programs to immigrants and refugees.
  • In 1998, the Living in Harmony Program, a new community grants program, was initiated. It was successively renewed until it was replaced in 2007 by a new program.
  • Ethnic organizations may now apply for funding through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Diverse Australia Program. The Diverse Australia Program is “primarily a community-based educational initiative for all Australians and aims to address issues of cultural, racial and religious intolerance” (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2009a). The program provides funding to not-for-profit organizations wishing to pursue initiatives related to belonging, inclusion, equity, cross-cultural respect, and the benefits of cultural diversity. Funding of up to $5,000 is available for small community projects (typically cultural or sporting events, workshops, and youth engagement activities), while grants of up to $50,000 are available for larger community projects (typically larger and more long-term cross-cultural initiatives, as well as website, audio-visual and other resource development).
  • This funding is project-based and only available for the duration of the activity. The project’s objectives must fall within the scope of the Diverse Australia Program parameters, and a number of organizations—not exclusively ethnic groups—may apply. The funding is thus not given specifically for cultural activities, nor is it only for ethnic groups, although certainly both may be eligible.
  • Groups may also apply for funding through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Settlement Grants Program. This program supports organizations that deliver orientation or integration services to newcomers. The funding is not recurring, and applicants must meet program parameters. Principal among these is the service delivery requirement. The guidelines specifically exclude multicultural events, defined as festivals or celebrations (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2009e).
  • At the state level, groups may apply for funding through the multicultural commissions. In Victoria, for example, funding is available for projects in seven categories: multicultural festivals and events, organizational support (general assistance for costs related to running an organization), senior citizens grants, buildings and facilities improvement, educational programs, and strengthening multicultural communities (Victorian Multicultural Commission 2009). Queensland’s Multicultural Assistance Program provides funding for multicultural festivals, cultural celebrations, capacity-building and small community projects (State of Queensland 2009).


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

    Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 1 1

Evidence:

  • The National Policy on Languages was introduced in 1987, and throughout the 1990s there was a conscious effort to improve fluency in languages other than English (Lo Bianco 1987). Attention was paid primarily to “languages of commerce” (e.g., Asian languages). This was affirmed in the Australian Language and Literacy Policy, which was introduced in 1991 (Rugins 1997).
  • The National Statement for Languages Education in Australian Schools, introduced in 2005, also explicitly recognizes the importance of learning languages other than English (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs 2005). Some of these programs are taught in mainstream schools, while others are offered through ethnic or community languages schools. The latter provide language instruction, as well as cultural maintenance programs (Community Languages Australia 2005).
  • Although language education is primarily the responsibility of state and territorial governments, through the School Languages Program, the federal government provided $110 million in support from 2005–2008 to assist states and territories in implementing Asian, European and Australian Indigenous language programs in schools (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 2009). It also supported, from 1995 to 2002, the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Strategy, and presently provides funding to Community Languages Australia, which is the Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools Associations (ibid.).
  • Community Languages Australia (2005) reports that more than 100,000 students participate in ethnic language programs.


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

    Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • Australia has legislation to protect racial minorities from discrimination, namely the Racial Discrimination Act, 1975. Policies related to affirmative action were generally conceived as a means of removing discriminatory barriers in the workplace, rather than as a way to redress past discriminatory practices (Gaze 1998).
  • Nonetheless, affirmative action policies for ethnocultural groups were instituted in the late-1980s. At the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act 1987 requires the Australian public service, as well as specified Commonwealth authorities (such as those created through an act or in which the Commonwealth has a controlling interest) to implement an equal employment opportunity for women and other designated groups, which include non-English-speaking immigrants and their children. The legislation gives employers considerable latitude in designing the equal employment opportunity program, although the act requires that the program include data collection on the employment of designated groups, an identification of any policies, practices or patterns that might be indicative of a lack of equality of opportunity, as well as measures and indicators to support an evaluation of the program’s effectiveness. While employers may choose to implement a program that addresses past disadvantage, this is completely voluntary.
  • Some states have initiated more extensive affirmative action policies. For example, the Government of Western Australia has moved toward a policy of substantive equality, rather than formal equality, although the policy framework largely pertains to public service delivery and access, and not specifically to hiring (Substantive Equality Unit 2004).

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000