To email Andrew, click here.
To see Andrew’s speaking videos on these topics, click here
Some may like to say multiculturalism in Australia has not worked. They are wrong.
Australia has nearly half its population either born overseas or with at least one parent born overseas. Whilst large proportions are from Europe, many are from Asia, South Asia, Africa and elsewhere.
Has Multiculturalism worked?
Some of the oldest non-indigenous communities are the Afghanis and Chinese who arrived in the middle of the 18th century.
We are not only one of the oldest multicultural countries in the world, we are also one of the most multicultural countries in the world. According to surveys, Australia is the world’s second most multicultural nation behind Luxemburg and equal with Switzerland – a land with four official languages and 22 Cantons.
Melbourne is the world’s most liveable city and one of the most diverse and multicultural cities. Consider this:
- In 2006, 35.8% of its population was born overseas, exceeding the national average of 23.1%.
- In concordance with national data, Britain is the most commonly reported overseas place of birth, with 4.7%, followed by Italy (2.1%), Croatia (1.7%), Vietnam (1.6%), China (1.5%), and New Zealand (1.5%).
- Melbourne has the world’s third largest Greek-speaking population after Athens and Thessaloniki (Melbourne’s Greek sister city).
- The Vietnamese surname Nguyen is the second most common in Melbourne’s phone book.
- The city also features substantial Indian, Sri Lankan, and Malaysian-born communities, in addition to recent South African and Sudanese influxes.
- The cultural diversity is reflected in the city’s restaurants serving various international cuisines.
So if multiculturalism does not work, then surely Australia would be rated as a poor quality country to live in and Melbourne a poor city?
Yet we see that Australia is ranked as the second most liveable country in the world, with Melbourne considered as the most liveable city in the entire world. The truth is that we are a welcoming and well-functioning multicultural country, with all countries but Norway lower in multiculturalism ranked below Australia in liveability.
Whilst it is true that we our society is not perfect, and we have moments of tension, like the Cronulla riots, these negatives are far outweighed by the positives we get from multiculturalism.
Australia must promote the benefits of our multicultural image if we are to maximise the benefits further.
A concrete example is the live beef exports. Rather than arguing with Indonesia about how they kill livestock, why doesn’t Australia expand the Islamic halal abattoirs in Australia so we slaughter the beasts and sell the processed meat? We sell around $650 million worth of halal and kosher meat to around 40 regional countries already, so why not expand this?
Isn’t it a new thought if we think of our multicultural population as an asset not a problem? Isn’t it better to think of our multicultural population as a ‘trade opportunity’ not an ‘Alan Jones threat’?
Moreover Australia has a once in a multi-generation opportunity to cement a golden future for years to come – if we get our national psych around multiculturalism right.
Australia could be the hinge point between the Anglo-Saxon worlds on the one hand, and the Asian and Islamic worlds on the other. Australia could not only be the geographic and time-zone hinge, our nation could also be the cultural translator that brings the old and new worlds together.
More discussion like this is in: