To what extent does Australia promote acceptance of cultural diversity or promote assimilation of minorities into majority Anglo-Christian culture?
After Second World War, the ethnic foundations of Britain are less significant for the national identity of Australia because Australian community accepted a huge number of migrants. After the 1970s, the Australian government abolished the white policy, numerous migrants can move into Australia. According to the 2006 census, almost one-fourth of Australian people (23.9%) were born abroad and nearly half resident (45%) had at least one overseas-born parent. Europe occupied the largest percentage of overseas-born population with 47%, and following is Asia (28%) and Oceania (11%). Many different races come into Australia. As a result, Australia becomes one of the most diverse cultural communities in the world. Thus, how to integrate different culture together and make Australia a harmonious nation is the main mission for Australian government. Under this background, the essay will focus on the efforts that Australia promotes acceptance of cultural diversity and reinforces assimilation of minorities into majority Anglo-Christian culture.
The cultural diversity plays a foundation role in the multiculturalism policy in 1973. Multiculturalism refers to the public policy that society uses to manage its cultural pluralism. It takes the official approach to promote the mutual understanding and tolerance among different cultures within a community. Multiculturalism emphasizes the uniqueness of different cultures and is particularly important when it comes to accepting other peoples. Australia is a society that has paid high attention to multiculturalism. Indeed, Australian society has attempted to put the policy into practice since the 1970s (Moran 2017). On the one hand, Australian multiculturalism recognizes and respects the existence of multiple cultural expressions. At the same time, it has taken a series of practical measures based on the federal government policies, in order to improve the lives of Australians who have different cultural backgrounds in term of society equality (Monash 2015). For example, targeting to solve the religious defamation of Australian Arabs and Muslims in Australian society, Victoria has led the other states and territories with enacting Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Woodlock 2011). This action promoted mutual cultural respect and protected all Australians to express their varying cultures and beliefs, subject. In order to foster the acceptance of cultural diversity in Australia society, for instance, in 2011, the Australian Government launched in the Multicultural Arts and Festival Grants through the Diversity and Social Cohesion Program; The main purpose is to provide Australians from different backgrounds with the opportunity to experience different cultural heritage and traditions, so as to encourage and understand mutually (Harris 2013). Moreover, Hartwich argued that multiculturalism works in Australia is because the Australia policy and government pay much attention to educate migrants. There are numerous language centers to provide migrants and refugees English learning for free in Australia. It is positive for migrants to acquire English and other skills in both life and work. For example, Hartwich (2011) also pointed out that migrant children always do better education result than local population. However, some European migrate countries do not concentrate on the improvement of migrants’ language or other skills which lose the mobility of ethnic diversity. Because the ethnic diversity only works when the migration system can ensure that migrations willing and able to integrate enter the community. The policy of education migrations in Australia provides beneficial condition for migrations to enter the community. Additionally, the multiculturalism also can be reflected in the festival culture. For example, Australian community possesses various of activities and public holidays, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving Day and Easter Day for Christians, Antipode for Greek people and Lunar New Year for Chinese people. This shows respect for different culture. Participating in different cultural festivals helps to build up the harmonious society.
On the contrary, the policy of promoting assimilation of minorities into majority Australian culture contradict the concept of multiculturalism. Australia constructs an Anglo-Christian as known as British-oriented Australian culture. The assimilation process in Australia is to force the minority group like Arab, Chinese or Vietnamese, etc. to integrate into Anglo-Christian. Nationalism and racism can work in the assimilation process. Nationalism refers to the ideology of patriotic beliefs in support of national independence for a group of people based on common language, traditions, religion or ethnicity (Smith 2010). Based on the idea of nationalism, Australia society tends to exclude the groups, which have different religions, ethnicities or appearance with White Australians. They are labeled Un-Australian which has been discriminated by Australians. Australian policy takes the effort to guide the Un-Australian to study the culture of Australia. This can be considered as one kind of assimilation. There is an example that the Prime Minister in 2005 instructed Islamic leaders that they must follow in The National Framework in Australia Schools, teaching Muslim students Australian values (Block and Dreher 2009). Additionally, the existence of racism is an obvious feature of Australian society. Racism refers to a belief in the superiority of one race over another, and can often lead to prejudice and judgment based on ethnic origin. For instance, Galligan and Roberts (2004) held the view that Australia fails to become a multicultural society because they believed that Australian community is still influenced by racism. Moreover, it should be remembered that the ‘White Australian Policy’, was established based on the racism, and still influence current society. For instance, the ‘Cronulla riot’, reflected the conflicts between white Australia and Arab and this event exacerbated the dissatisfaction and hostility of Australian society towards ‘other races’ (of Middle Eastern appearance and Muslim). Most of Australia’s recent studies on racism and multiculturalism have focused on the topic of “place-sharing” and on the issue of sharing public spaces, especially after the ‘Cronulla riot’ happened in December 2005 (Bloch and Dreher 2009). For example, the senior citizens living near the beach ‘believed’ that the Muslim people were taking over the parks and beaches in that area and felt the sense of belonging was taken away (Bloch and Dreher 2009). Nevertheless, the prevalence of complaints and resentment over Muslims and Arab-Australians has not only appeared in Rockdale, but has been a wider trend. The prevalence of dissatisfaction and resentment at the society of Arab and Muslim Australians is not unique to the Rockdale region, but rather a typical, more widespread trend. From the research, many respondents in general regarded Muslims and Arab Australians as an exception. Indeed, respondents also saw them as a threat to harmonious community, and relate Arab and Muslim Australians to terrorism (Block and Dreher 2009). For instance, in 2009, Michael Smith who is a Brisbane radio announcer, conflated various types of Islamic dress and veiling and advocated to the public that these Muslims should be banned in public places such as banks, restaurants and shopping malls so as to avoid frightening children and strangers (Woodlock 2011). Thus, the wish to assimilate other races is fairly strong. Hence, there are still some challenge of Australia becoming a total multiculturalism community.
Overall, neither multiculturalism nor assimilation is the right way for the Australian society to promote the society’s harmony. By contrast, the effective way to promote harmony in the Australian community is education. In the educational institutions, all the citizens’ understanding of multicultural society will be strengthened. and the internal conflicts and arguments which are related to racism or religion also will be reduced. Finally, there will be a harmonious society in Australia.
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