Report shows strong support for multicultural Australia
10 September 2009
A new report shows that migrants born overseas are not considered ‘un-Australian’, the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, Laurie Ferguson, said today.
‘The Monash University report, Perceptions of Multiculturalism and Security in Victoria, will be used by the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council and Australian Government in the development of new cultural diversity policies,’ Mr Ferguson said.
‘In this context, the Victorian research on community attitudes is most welcome.
‘The research shows that Australians define ‘Australianness’ by behaviour rather than through ethnic origins. ‘Australian’ behavior is defined as obeying the law, respecting others, integrating within communities and developing a working knowledge of English.’
The report’s findings come from a group of surveys conducted in metropolitan and regional Victoria, involving some 120 people.
‘The vast majority of participants believe that multiculturalism enhances Australia economically, socially and culturally,’ Mr Ferguson said.
‘Participants believe Australian identity is fluid and dynamic, are supportive of the nation’s diversity, and are optimistic about the country’s ongoing potential for maintaining and strengthening social harmony.
‘The report reflects public acceptance of diversity as being about all Australians and a preference for a whole-of-community perspective on issues and solutions. This is very positive.’
The research also uncovered some areas of public concern.
‘Generally participants were very critical of the way the media portrays minority groups such as the Islamic and Sudanese communities,’ Mr Ferguson said.
‘In addition, some people expressed concern that some migrants do not properly integrate into Australian communities, and that settlement services should focus even more on building social inclusion.’
‘Overall, the report reminds us of the need to stay vigilant to protect our democratic approach to diversity. It is essential that we continue programs to bring opportunity to all Australians and support their active participation in community life. We must stand united and reject all forms of racial or religious vilification.’
A full version of the Perceptions of Multiculturalism and Security in Victoria report is available on the Monash University website.
See: Perceptions of Multiculturalism and Security in Victoria (519KB PDF file)