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Australian Government's Multicultural Policy

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"Multicultural" is an expression that describes the cultural and linguistic diversity of Australian society. It is known that Australia has been a nation that is rich in different cultures, traditions, beliefs and languages from the past till now, and it has benefited the country's development in different aspects such as social, cultural and economics. The Australian Government's multicultural policy addresses the consequences of this diversity in the interests of the individual and society as a whole. It recognises, accepts, respects and celebrates this cultural diversity.

This investigation has focused the initiatives and ideas used in government policies from the past till now have been identified and elaborated in this investigation. The aim of this investigation is to gain a deeper understanding on the multiculturalism in Australia through its multicultural history, multiculturalism in practice and the transformation of multiculturalism in this new millennium.

In year 1901, the Australia Federation had established the "White Australia Policy" and The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 in an attempt to restrict "non-white" immigration into Australia. This policy however could not withstand the growing acknowledgment of Australia's responsibilities as a member of the international community. It was then replaced by "assimilation" process. In this case, the immigrants were expected to become identical as the Australians by abandoning their own cultures and languages. This process iss unthoughtful and unfair as deserting our own culture would be an impossible task for us. Culture and traditions are the roots and fundamentals of our life, we would hardly survive with our life uprooted from fundamentals of life.

Year 1999, the John Howard's government launched a report by National Multicultural Advisory Council (NMAC) known as Australian Multiculturalism for a New Century: Towards inclusiveness. This report aimed at correcting the misconception that multiculturalism was concerned mainly with immigration and minority ethnic communities only (National Multicultural Advisory Council, 1999). Multiculturalism must be seen as relevant to the interests of each and everyone in the nation and they would be benefited by this unique feature. Inclusiveness is of utmost important as it further enhances the acceptance and appreciation of the society towards different culture and contributions made by people of different skin colour.

The latest multicultural policy established by the government is Multicultural Australia: United in Diversity. The simple idea of this new policy will be to create oneness among variety and different peoples (Commonwealth of Australia, 2003). This document emphasises that multicultural policies are indispensably necessary at a time when international terrorism threatens to destabilise the society and endanger the national security. The tragic events of 11 September 2001 in the United States of America and 12 October 2002 in Bali have changed global environment in which Australians live. The vision of this policy is of powerful: Multicultural Australia, united by a shared future, an overriding commitment to the nation and its democratic institutions and values, and support for the rule of law, with English as a common language.

Indeed, unity is the most powerful and effective strategy in fighting terrorism. With impenetrable and unbreakable strong cohesion in the society of a nation, terrorism can hardly seep into the society. This is due to the fact that mutual respect, tolerance, trust and acceptance that have been cultivated in them makes them do not fall easily to the trap set by terrorists which is capable of destroying all the civilisations and achievements of one nation .

There are three important elements in this multicultural policy, namely, community harmony, access and equity and productive diversity. To create a strong social solidity, the government cooperates with a range of individuals and communities, businesses and government organisations, in reprimanding actions and statements which threaten community harmony. The main concern in access and equity is to ensure that government services and programmes are accessible by each and every individual in the nation. The productive diversity idea advocates that diversity in ways of thinking makes Australia's multiculturalism the most valuable resource as it stimulates innovation and creativity. It connects Australia with the rest of the world that are capable of delivering increased trade and investment (Commonwealth of Australia, 2003).

Promotions and policies have been essential in promoting multiculturalism in Australia. One of the important events is Harmony Day, which is celebrated on 21 March each year. Harmony Day is under the Diverse Australia Programme administered by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to celebrate the nation's consistent commitment and comprehensive nature towards multiculturalism meanwhile promoting the benefits of cultural diversity. This major event focuses on eliminating racial prejudice and intolerance. It is primarily organised by school boards and teachers



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