Multiculturalism good for Australia

November 16, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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About 85 per cent of the population agree that ‘multiculturalism has been good for Australia’.

Hakan Harman

Hakan Harman

The information has been published in the latest instalment of the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion Report, which assesses the impact of immigration on social cohesion.

The CEO of Multicultural NSW, Hakan Harman, today welcomed the latest report:

‘This year’s report shows us again how comfortable Australians are with our multicultural society, consistent with last year’s results.’

In NSW, the proportion that strongly agreed with this sentiment was 33.9 per cent. But there is undoubtedly work to be done, as this was about three per cent below the national average.

The heightened media attention on overseas conflicts and Australia’s Muslim community during the year was also reflected in the survey results. NSW, which is home to the largest Muslim community in Australia (46 percent of the national total) had a higher proportion of people who held negative attitudes towards Muslims.

‘We need to be vigilant about tackling racism and prejudice of any kind. I am proud that in NSW we have many people who are willing to take a stand against racial and religious abuse to support those who are being victimised’ said Mr Harman.

At the same time there is support for Australia’s migration intake with 58% indicating that it is about right or too low. The report also highlights the need to actively build social cohesion. It found that an important influence on people’s attitudes to diversity was the actual experience of interacting with people from other backgrounds and seeing different ethnic groups get along at a local level.

‘This shows we are taking the right measures to improve social cohesion in NSW’ said Mr Harman. ’A core part of the Harmony in Action: Strategic Plan 2014-17, released in August this year, covers supporting initiatives that bring different communities together. Our community engagement and grant strategies are refocused on fostering unity through common values and a commitment to Australia.”

‘It is important to remember that attitudes to diversity and multiculturalism are only one component of social cohesion. Multicultural NSW already has a strong focus on enabling the participation of all communities in public life and on making sure NSW Government services are equitable and accessible.”

The Scanlon-Monash Index of Social Cohesion identifies five elements of social cohesion: a sense of worth, participation, acceptance/rejection, belonging, and social justice and equity.