Time to revitalise multiculturalism in Australia: Deakin report featuring Professor Fethi Mansouri

Multiculturalism in Australia is alive and well but needs recalibration if the country is to live up to its reputation as a multicultural success story, a Deakin University report has found.

The Doing Diversity Project conducted by the University’s Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation examined the current state of multiculturalism in Australia through stakeholder consultations and a large survey of the public’s understanding and attitudes towards multiculturalism.

The researchers found that while there is general public support for and celebration of minority cultures, there is also acknowledgement that this awareness does not translate to equitable social inclusion and meaningful intercultural engagement.

“Around 64 per cent of survey respondents reported that Australia was a successful multicultural society and 68 per cent considered cultural/ethnic diversity as a fundamental positive characteristic of Australian culture,” said the Institute’s director, Alfred Deakin Professor Fethi Mansouri.

“However, a sizeable majority of participants in the multicultural sector (75 per cent) and the wider public (51 per cent) reported that multiculturalism, while positive for society, needed refocusing and reinvigoration.

“This view appears to be formed from a lack of clarity on the meaning and ethos of multiculturalism among the general public which is a reflection of the focus of current policies.

“While multicultural policies provide room for self-expression and belonging among minority groups, they have been limited by their exclusive focus on cultural minorities, leaving members of the dominant culture outside their radar.”

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Fethi Mansouri