Multiculturalism in Australian Society

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Multiculturalism denotes to many cultures where different customs of different race groups can be seen in the society. Multiculturalism derives from two Latin words ‘Multus’ means many and ‘Cultura’ means cultivation. Multiculturalism conveys the meaning of many different racial groups mixing their culture into one nation (Multiculturalism in Australia).

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Multiculturalism is a contradiction of the truth that cultures clash. The supporters of multiculturalism counter this truth by arguing (Philip Atkinson, 2000, Para 2):

“All the different cultures can live like big happy family as soon as we get rid of the bad people-the racists, sexists, fascists, chauvinists, bigots, red necks etc.- all those people who will not change their benefits to match fashion” (Philip Atkinson, 2000, Para 2).

The narrower and broader ideas of multiculturalism cannot be analyzed separately. Post immigration multiculturalism has its own unique concerns which can be destroyed if we see them according to general multicultural terms. It can be connected with racism, which could be little different when the right to settle is not considered as a problem or it can be connected with sexism when there is differentiation in the culture of sexual norms or the gender roles (Tariq Modood, 2007).

Australia is known as demographically and culturally ‘multicultural’ following the immigrants of ethnically diverse groups but the government views have also played an important role in the ideal social composition of Australian society. The main point for consideration is whether the government respects diversity or it supports ‘assimilation’ into the majority of culture (Historical Background).

In the post war period ‘assimilation’ was te term to describe government policies for migrants who were settling in Australia. It was to support then for getting jobs, settling in the local community, finding accommodation to become the part of Australian life get a similar treatment like other Australians (Brian Galligan and Winsome Roberts, 2003). After the government’s choice, Australia can have multicultural policy. The multicultural policy has the tendency of accepting diversity and then it reacts symbolically with some particular practical programs, which are targeted to help ethnic minorities (Geoffrey Brahm Levey, 2008).

Multiculturalism first came into existence in 1970 (Multiculturalism, 2005). During 1972-1975 Al Grassby in Gough Whitlam’s government adopted the word ‘multicultural’ from the Canadians and it was used in the Australian context and during 1976-1983 Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s Liberal National Country Party coalition government executed the policy widely for the first time (Historical Background). Nationality and citizenship Act 1948 gives the rights of citizenship to the Australians who have lived in Australia for five years and can speak English (Brian Galligan and Winsome Roberts, 2003). Till date the Australian government has not specified any particular act about multiculturalism (Geoffrey Brahm Levey, 2008).

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Though the policies were made for the migrants yet they felt themselves alone in the country and they chose to be housed in old army bases and kept themselves separated ordinary civilian life. Many people got work in remote locations. The migrants had to work on low paid jobs as their overseas qualifications were not recognized properly. They had to work with compatriots and had to live in cheap rented houses, which were typically available in the inner suburbs of capital cities.

Due to all these reasons the first generation migrants became inclined towards their own fellow migrants and they formed then clubs and associations. Though there were strong assimilation pressures because of work places and schools where their children used to learn English, the migrants having non English speaking background were keen to join the broader Australian community as they wanted to take up the citizenship (Brian Galligan and Winsome Roberts, 2003).

The Australian natives are the population from many different countries who brought their own culture and mixed them to each other. They settled in Australia for a better life. Now Australian is full of many different cultural groups which make the country a multicultural country that has many races, cultures and ethnic groups. Due to this multiculturalism in Australia, there is a multicultural literature and that is why the Australian government has made the policy to keep control on the society and its cultures. Therefore, the government has made the law to preserve the rights of all ethnic groups’ culture (Multiculturalism in Australia).

Australia is supposed to be the most successful culturally diverse societies in the world where the population of immigrants is approximately six million. Here, in Australia almost 40% are either born overseas or they have one parent born outside Australia. Australia is the home of people who have come from almost 200 different countries. Intermarriage is also supporting in mixing the culture (Benjamin Chow).

Australian government’s national multicultural policy supports community harmony and promotes the cultural, economic and social benefits of Australia’s cultural diversity that is concerned with all Australians. This multiculturalism holds the heritage of Indigenous Australians and encourages mutual respect and equality to enrich the social solidity which can be supportive for Australia in handling both external and domestic pressures (Benjamin Chow).

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The contradictory views in understanding cultures turn different cultures people into enemies who fight for the stand of their own views and want to force their views on each other. Western civilization is built by different cultures which struggle to occupy one another and this happens through war. Multiculturalism’s immediate effect on Australia is cultural suicide. Australians are giving permission to their culture to be swamped by aliens by allowing the different people from different countries in Australia (Philip Atkinson, 2000). Non-Anglomorph migrants get no benefit from language and cultural factors.

Still, the intermediary problems of new immigrants can be analyzed for preserving ethnic cultures. Multiculturalism’s objectives have organized interest groups within ethnic communities but it’s not clarified whether they have enthusiasm for them in such communities (Dr Mark Cooray, 1995).

Today, Multiculturalism has no importance in democratic society. The democratic society’s classification is based on individual freedom. Such kind of society always has cultural and conscience freedom. A person can involve himself in a cultural activity which either he himself does or he relates himself to others. If the person likes not to involve with any social activity and he wants to live on his own, he can chose for that too but he is free to mix up with others and interact with them. Imposing the rules of behavior on completely free society is not appreciating. Culture is meant for people and its future is in their hands only.

A society where peoples’ needs are satisfied is a very good place for cultivating and enhancing culture. The nonstop flow of immigrants to Australia shows that it is not because of state guaranteed cultural environment rather it is due to fulfillment of people’s expectations who aspire for freedom and opportunity for their personal growth and which Australia has given them, The Anglomorph culture of Australia does not discourage migration and by adopting liberal political policies, it has become a big attractive place for immigrants (Dr Mark Cooray, 1995).

The Australian society is fulfilling the expectations of immigrants by giving them opportunities and satisfying their material, spiritual and cultural needs. This has been possible because of the liberal character of the Australian institutions and also because of Australian community’s flexible way of life. The governments are trying multiculturalism to improve the defects of society (Dr Mark Cooray, 1995). Immigration has affected the economy of Australia through (Fact Sheet 4 – More than 60 Years of Post-war Migration, 2008):

  • Business expansion
  • Immigrants own spending on food, housing, entertainment etc.

Growth of government services like education, health, welfare etc.

It has also affected (Fact Sheet 4 – More than 60 Years of Post-war Migration, 2008):

  • Skills, labor and capital commenced in Australia
  • New business developed by migrants
  • Contribution of immigrants to technology
  • Enhancing production through knowledge of international business markets

Immigrants also pay taxes like other Australians. The government gives them benefits, goods and services. Some researches depict that the contribution of the migrants in taxes is ore than they consume for benefits, goods and services so the result is that migrants can contribute in surplus income for government. The economic growth of Australia is going up due to this fact that migrants put influence on the economy through supply and demand and indirectly it gives the government surpluses (Fact Sheet 4 – More than 60 Years of Post-war Migration, 2008).

Migration has affected Australia a lot. After World War II, Australia’s population was just approximately seven million where ninety percent were born in Australia itself but according to 2006 census Australia’s population became 19.9 million where one in four people was born in outside of Australia. Immigration has also affected the population growth of Australia. In 1993 it grew up to 23.1 percent and 2007 it contributed 55.6 percent (Frank L Scicluna). It is expected that in coming 30 years immigration will keep on contributing in the population growth of Australia (Fact Sheet 4 – More than 60 Years of Post-war Migration, 2008).

Some myths have also been associated with multiculturalism (John Menadue, 2002):

  • Media says that crime rates are higher in migrants than any other native Australian but if we take migrants as a whole, there is no proof about this.
  • It is believed that multicultural societies do not stay for a longer period and they collapse easily but it is seen that new migrants want to live within their community for mutual support and later after getting adjusted they move outside of their own community in the wider Australian community (John Menadue, 2002).

Multiculturalism policies make sure that all the Australians have equal opportunities so that they can be active and equal participants in the society. They should have the liberty to follow their own religion under Australian law. People have their secure economic and social future and they do not have to sacrifice their social and cultural identity. All Australians have equal share in future and democratic institutions and support for the rule of the law where English is as a common language (John Menadue, 2002).

Benjamin Chow mentions that now a days multiculturalism is facing lots of challenges. Some challenges has to be responded effectively and calmly. The threat of violence is spreading everywhere in the world. The bombings in London, Bali and India are showing a threat for maintaining community. Australians are also becoming suspected discriminated and are under the threat of violence because of their religion, background and culture.

If we want to create a safe, tolerant and productive future we will have to remove this rift from our society. Ignorant behavior and misunderstanding about other’s religions and also improper use of the religion by the people who want to divide the world in different parts according their preferences are standing like a challenge. Benjamin Chow further mentions that everyone should feel himself involved in the life of Australia to convey the exact sense of multiculturalism (Benjamin Chow).

Australia has become the model of successful multicultural nation. Millions of migrants have contributed in Australia’s unique ethos which is balanced by equal rights and responsibilities (Benjamin Chow). The media and the political institutions of Australia have become concerned with the need of those migrants who adopt the cultural values and language of the country to gel with the society.

Some conservative institutions have become worried about some particular migrant groups as they think such kinds of migrants will cause tensions in the Australian society when they will grow larger. Australia’s policy of mixing with various cultural groups and its recognition as a nation will make the reputation of this country as a desirable place for all migrants (Spotlight – Australia’s struggle with multiculturalism, 2007).

List of References

Atkinson, P 2000, Multiculturalism: Its Real Nature And Origin. Web.

Chow, B, Multiculturalism in Australia: Current Issues. Web.

Cooray, M, 1995, Multiculturalism In Australia. Web.

“Fact Sheet 4 – More than 60 Years of Post-war Migration”, 2008. Web.

Galligon, B & Roberts, W, 2003, “Australian Multiculturalism: Its Rise and Demise”, Australasian Political Studies Association Conference, University of Tasmania, Hobart. Web.

Levey G, 2008, Political Theory and Australian Multiculturalism, Berghanhn Books, P.316. Web.

Menadue, J 2002, “Australian Multiculturalism: successes, problems and risks”, Online Opinion. Web.

Modood T, 2007 Multiculturalism: a civic idea, Polity Press, Cambridge, p. 193.

Multiculturalism, 2005. Web.

“Multiculturalism in Australia”, Australian Studies CenterWeb.

Scicluna, F L, Australia a Multicultural Society. Web.

Spotlight – Australia’s struggle with multiculturalism, 2007. Web.

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