8 February 2011—The gift Australia’s multicultural triumph affords us all

It’s a policy that has sparked no end of controversy and ill-informed conjecture since its introduction.  Yet few among even its harshest critics dispute its benefits and most would like to see them retained.

No, I’m not talking about US President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare legislation, but the Australian policy of multiculturalism which has once again found itself being debated with no one entirely sure what all the fuss is about.

Apparently, this latest storm in a teacup stems from recent comments made by British Prime Minister David Cameron.  Why Australians should feel so influenced  by the internal policy discussions of a country whose population size and demography, geo-political location, and current economic circumstances is now so different to ours is unclear.

We are Australians, we have a different experience, we make our own distinctions and our version of multiculturalism is ours to debate.

However, it is appropriate from time to time to acknowledge what continues to make the Australian brand of multiculturalism so successful.  Namely, its willingness to evolve and improve according to society’s changing aspirations and needs.

This is not say that the thriving nation of Australia is without its tensions and inequities.  Our very public struggle to reconcile with the first peoples of this country is a case in point

But as we have done countless times in the past, Australia will succeed in forging a truly strong way forward. Political leadership, the goodwill of all of us and the sensitivity to recognize one another’s unique hopes and dreams are all key determinants of that success.

Ultimately that is the gift our multicultural triumph affords us as Australians and it is the only one that truly counts.

Sam Afra JP

Chairperson

Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria

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