Australia

   
TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 5.5 8 8 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.

   
Affirmation Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Prior to the adoption of official policies on multiculturalism, the Prime Minister of Australia made speeches about Australia'smulticultural character as early as 1975 (Commonwealth of Australia 2011) and the 1973 Grassby Report recognized the increasing diverse nature of Australia (Grassby 1973, 2).
  • 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. Multiculturalism policies in Australia have been reaffirmed in 1989 (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs 1989), 1996 (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs 1997, 2), 1999 (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs 1999, 6), and 2003 (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and Immigration Affairs 2003). In 2003, the government released Multicultural Australia: United in Diversity, which set the strategic direction for the following three years. This policy statement was updated in 2011 with the launch of People of Australia: Australia’s Multicultural Policy (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2011). This policy introduced the Australian Multicultural Council, an independent body that replaced the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council to consult on policies and current issues related to diversity and multiculturalism (Commonwealth of Australia 2011). With these changes, the policy discourse has shifted somewhat in recent decades 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 2009c). 
  • Although the responsibility for multicultural policies principally fell under the purview of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, in 2013, it was transferred to the new Department of Social Services (Department of Home Affairs, 2019). The most recent policy statement on multiculturalism was issued in March 2017 by the Turnbull government (Department of Home Affairs, 2019). This policy, Multicultural Australia – United, Strong, Successful, has been described as one of the most significant changes to Australia’s multicultural policy agenda (Levey 2019).
  • At the sub-national level, all states have policies, agencies, or ministries responsible for multiculturalism (Koleth 2010). 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 Department of Local Government, Sport, and Cultural Industries, making clear the institutional link between municipalities and multiculturalism (Office of Multicultural Interests 2020).

 

2. THE ADOPTION OF MULTICULTURALISM IN SCHOOL CURRICULUM

    Yes.

   
School Curriculum Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Support of multiculturalism in education dates back to the 1970s (Leeman and Reid 2006, 57) with government reports favouring multicultural education for migrants as early as 1975 (Foster and Stockley 1988, 52-53).
  • 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. Multicultural 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). Incorporating multiculturalism into schools was again identified as a government priority in the 1990 National Agenda for Multiculturalism (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs 1989, 37).
  • 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, the Multicultural Education Policy includes a focus on intercultural understanding, anti-racism initiatives, and refugee support programs (New South Wales Government 2020). 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; see http://www.multiculturalaustralia.edu.au/). In 2000, the Government of South Australia created the Multicultural Education Committee, now known as the Multicultural Education and Language Committee (MELC), which advises the Minister of Education on language and multicultural education programs (Government of South Australia 2020).

 

3. THE INCLUSION OF ETHNIC REPRESENTATION/SENSITIVITY IN THE MANDATE OF PUBLIC MEDIA OR MEDIA LICENSING

    Yes.

   
Media Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0.5 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The government funds the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), which is the country’s multicultural and multilingual broadcaster; it has television, radio and online components. Section 6 of the SBS Act 1991 posits that the SBS is intended “to provide multilingual and multicultural radio, television and digital media services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society.”
  • In 1975, the SBS set up two experimental ethnic radio stations in Sydney and Melbourne to broadcast in different languages to ethnic-minority communities (Special Broadcasting Service 2020). By 2007, SBS Radio had national reach. Funding for the SBS was permanently established in 1977 (Foster and Stockley 1988, 168) and funding increased substantially in 1988, going from$688 million in 1987-88 to $1138 million 1988-89 (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs 1989, 48).
  • 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, video, and text content in more than 68 languages. Eighty percent of the SBS’s funding comes from government sources (Jolly 2007).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In addition to SBS and ABC, the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) was also founded in 1974 (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia 2020). It is comprised of over 500 broadcast and narrowcast services (primarily operated by volunteers with  partial government subsidy). One fifth of these services constitute “ethnic broadcasting”, which are represented by the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council (NEMBC). The NEMBC’s radio sector also produces multicultural programming in over 100 languages (Lawe Davies 2005).  

 

4. EXEMPTIONS FROM DRESS CODES (EITHER BY STATUTE OR COURT CASES)

    Yes, although uneven.

   
Exemption Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0.5 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Exemptions have emerged gradually over the past two decades, largely in response to demands from affected communities. The Racial Discrimination Act in 1975 provided Australia's first anti- discrimination legislation. A section of this law prohibits employers from imposing work requirements that “impair recognition, enjoyment, or exercise on an equal footing” of a human right or fundamental freedom (Racial Discrimination Act 1975). The New South Wales Equal Opportunity Tribunal in 1977.
  • Applied the Racial Discrimination Act to a religious group, ruling that Jews were covered by the Act (Mortensen 1995, 217)
  • In 1990 a prohibition against indirect discrimination was inserted into Chapter 3 of the Racial Discrimination Act (Australian Human Rights Commission 2005, 30-31).
  • Although religious freedom is protected under section 116 of the Commonwealth Constitution, and both Coalition and Labour governments have generally refrained from imposing restrictions on religious dress or symbols in Australia, the Constitutional provisions leave significant room for policies to emerge at the sub-state level, primarily by state governments (Furse-Roberts 2017). Some states have instituted strong protections for religious dress exemptions. For example, in 1988, the New South Wales government included an exemption in a law preventing people from wearing knives for Sikhs wearing kirpans (Summary Offences Act- Section 11C 1988); Victoria granted this exemption in 1990 (Victoria Police 2012). 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 (see Lim 2018). 
  • Still, there is some policy debate regarding religious accommodation, particularly in New South Wales and South Australia. In a review of current policies and challenges, an expert panel identified that some individuals – especially Muslim women – often face barriers regarding religious dress (Religious Freedom Review 2018). In New South Wales, for example, the Identification Legislation Amendment Act 2011 requires persons to remove face coverings if requested by state officials, regardless of the severity of the crime (Barker 2019). While this legislation does not expressly refer to the burqa or niqab, evidence from the New South Wales Ombudsmen’s review of the legislation suggests that 7 of the 8 instances where the legislation has been used include driving-related incidents with Muslim women drivers (Barker 2019). Given that Muslim women make up less than 4% of the population in the state, this suggests that the law disproportionately affects Muslim women (Barker 2019). 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). In effect, the variation in policies pertaining to religious dress across the states does suggest that protections are uneven in the Australian case. 

 

5. ALLOWS DUAL CITIZENSHIP

    Yes.

   
Dual Citizenship Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 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 2009b).

 

6. THE FUNDING OF ETHNIC GROUP ORGANIZATIONS OR ACTIVITIES

    Yes.

   
Funding Ethnic Groups Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • In the late 1960s, 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.
  • Funding for ethnic programs with a multicultural character was developed in 1978 with the Galbally Inquiry (Foster and Stockley 1988, 14). Ethnic minority organizations received a 78% increase in funds between 1983 and 1988 (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs 1989, 13). 
  • In 1998, the Living in Harmony Program, a new community grants program, was initiated to address local issues affecting community harmony. It was successively renewed until it was replaced in 2007 by a new program, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Diverse Australia Program. The Diverse Australia Program was “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 provided 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 was available for small community projects (typically cultural or sporting events, workshops, and youth engagement activities), while grants of up to $50,000 were 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 was project-based and only available for the duration of the activity. The project’s objectives were to fall within the scope of the Diverse Australia Program parameters, and a number of organizations—not exclusively ethnic groups—could apply. The funding was thus not given specifically for cultural activities, nor was it only for ethnic groups, although certainly both may be eligible.
  • In 2010, the Diverse Australia program and the National Action Plan to Build on Social Cohesion, Harmony, and Security program were merged to form the Diversity and Social Cohesion Program (Lopez 2013). This program was very similar to the Diverse Australia program, where funds were provided through the Department of Social Services. Although websites and application information available for the Diversity and Social Cohesion Program are not available as of 2018, the Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Program: Community Languages Multicultural Grant was initiated in 2019 (Department of Social Services 2020a). These grants, which are premised on maintaining, developing, and acquiring languages other than English, are available to not-for-profit community language schools. The Australian government will provide $10 million over 2 years for the Community Languages Multicultural Grants, and Stream One funding will include a base payment of $1,500 plus a per capita amount based on student enrolment, capped at a maximum of $30,000 per school (Department of Social Services 2020a). Fostering Integration Grants are also available from the Department of Multicultural Affairs, primarily targeting organizations that assist newly-arrived migrants and ethnic communities (Department of Social Services 2020b). Grants of between $5,000 - $60,000 are available to organizations across Australia. 
  • 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 2009d).
  • At the state level, groups may apply for a wide array of grants through states’ multicultural commissions. These can include, for example, the “Multicultural Festivals and Events Program” in Victoria, which provides up to $70,000 to not-for-profit organizations hosting multifaith and multicultural events (State Government of Victoria 2020), or South Australia’s “Multicultural Grants Program” (Department of the Premier and Cabinet 2019). 

 

7. THE FUNDING OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION OR MOTHER TONGUE INSTRUCTION

    Yes.

   
Bilingual Education Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0.5 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Bilingual teaching was started in Melbourne in 1974 (Grassby 1973, 8-9).
  • The National Policy on Languages, introduced in 1987, had the aim of encouraging the learning and maintenance of ethnic minority languages (Castles 1992, 556). 
  • The 1989 National Agenda for multiculturalism considers the maintenance of mother tongue language as an asset for Australia (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs 1989, 40-41). Victoria province had an advisory council on languages other than English starting in 1993 (Extra and Yagmur 2002, 52).
  • 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 (Minister for Employment, Education, and Training 1991).
  • 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 2020).
  • 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.).
  • As noted above, the Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Program: Community Languages Multicultural Grant was initiated in 2019 for not-for-profit community language schools to ensure that non-English languages are maintained and taught throughout Australia (Department of Social Services 2020a). 

 

8. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR DISADVANTAGED IMMIGRANT GROUPS

    Yes.

   
Affirmative Action Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Racial Discrimination Act was adopted in 1975, but did not include programs for affirmative action (Gaze 1998, 138).
  • 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.
  • Policies pertaining to affirmative action are increasingly utilizing the language of “special measures”, which are defined as forms of “differential treatment between racial groups which are identified as necessary in order to address an existing inequality or disadvantage” (Australian Human Rights Commission 2011). In recent years, there has been an increased focus on special measures applying to Aboriginal or Indigenous peoples, specifically through the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy (initiated in 2015). 
  • 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).