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Part Two broadens the discussion of multiculturalism beyond Australia in recognition of the fact that the issues, events, and even rhetoric, that have animated Australian debates about multiculturalism, particularly in the past ten years, transcend national borders and have reverberated in various forms in other parts of the world.While there continue to be significant differences amongst the countries discussed there are also some interesting parallels.
Multiculturalism has served a variety of goals over the years, including, the pursuit of social justice, the recognition of identities and appreciation of diversity, the integration of migrants, nation-building, and attempts to achieve and maintain social cohesion.In both public and government arenas, debate on the benefits of integration and assimilation has re-emerged.Public discourse on the concept and policy of multiculturalism, and ethno-cultural diversity more broadly, have variously evolved in accordance with the particular historical and political foundations of the countries referred to in this paper.From its inception, multiculturalism has been a contested policy and concept, both in Australia and overseas, with detractors often criticising it as a divisive policy and a concept that was allegedly lacking in substance and precision. Government and other services established under multicultural policies have played a significant role in facilitating the settlement of immigrants, and many elements of the service infrastructure have endured despite the controversy surrounding the concept.In the past decade or so, in Australia, as well as a number of prominent immigrant-receiving countries in North America and Europe, the concept of multiculturalism has come under criticism.By the late 1960s, government policy had moved towards a policy of integration, reflecting a greater awareness of the difficulties faced by new migrants and an acceptance of the possibility that migrants could integrate successfully in Australian society without losing their national identities completely.
Echoing developments in other immigrant-receiving countries, notably Canada, by the late 1970s there was a growing acceptance of broader expressions of cultural diversity or 'multiculturalism' within Australian society.
We asked the Review to have regard to our Federalism policy and our objective of supporting the enterprise and dedication of community groups who provide programs and services to migrants ...
we recognise the special needs which migrants, particularly the non-English speaking and the more recently arrived, have in settling here.
From its genesis as a policy framework to respond to the needs of immigrants, multiculturalism became a concept that articulated the character of the growing ethno-cultural diversity of society in the latter decades of the twentieth century.
Always contested, multiculturalism and the ethno-cultural diversity that it symbolises have become increasingly controversial and subject to scrutiny in response to the security and social challenges of the early twenty-first century.
This paper provides an overview of Australia's federal multicultural policies, briefly draws attention to state and territory multicultural policy frameworks, and reviews some key issues in recent public debates about multiculturalism in Australia and overseas, with a focus on post-immigration multiculturalism.