Australia is one of the most diverse societies in the world. Multiculturalism is one of the characteristic features of this country as its history began with mass immigration that has never ended (Nicolacopoulos & Vassilacopoulos 2012). Australia was the place where people from Europe started immigrating in the 18th century. Soon, individuals from different parts of the world (especially from Asian countries) came to Australia due to variety of reasons. Thousands of refugees have escaped from wars, political, social and economic unrest. The country developed different policies to respond to the challenges associated with immigration. The policies ranged from highly restrictive to very liberal and now the Australian government is aimed at developing a truly multicultural society. However, numerous conflicts among ethnic groups poses certain threats to this process, as many Australians argue that it is essential to establish specific monitoring systems to regulate relationships among different ethnic groups, especially in places where immigrants and refugees settle. Nonetheless, there are numerous agencies focusing on the issue and additional systems will be cost-ineffective and even harmful as they may lead to increase of tension in the society.
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Up to the 1970s, the White Australia Policy was in the place and numerous obstacles for the people of non-European heritage immigration appeared, and the traces of the policies are still apparent in Australians’ desire to restrict immigration and control severely immigrants. For instance, the 1901 Act was aimed at promoting European and restricting Asian immigration by requiring immigrants “to pass a dictation test” in any European language they knew (Hampshire 2013). Clearly, this was a toll to ban certain ethnic groups from coming to Australia. In the 1980s, an era of liberalisation started but there were still political forces that tried to restrict immigrations (especially when it came to Asian immigrants and people from the Middle East). Thus, the Australian Party opposed to immigration of Asians, as they were afraid of possible negative outcomes for the labour market (Short 2012). Clearly, there has long been certain opposition to non-European immigration in Australia and these perspectives are still in the air.
Apart from fears concerning labour market, many Australians have been afraid of extremist groups who, they thought, could settle in Australia and pose numerous threats. The 9/11 terroristic act was one of the most potent impetuses that made Australians even more suspicious and hostile to Muslims immigrating to the country (Castles, Vasta & Ozkul 2014). It is necessary to add that the country is still quite unprepared to the true multiculturalism as there is a lot of tension in the society and different ethnic groups are often in conflict. A result of those fears and conflicts is Australians’ desire to develop specific systems and agencies that would control activities of immigrants. Some people see this as a solution as they think that immigrants often engage in unlawful activities and if their activities will be better monitored numerous conflicts will be prevented.
However, such measures are likely to increase tension and lead to other conflicts. As has been mentioned above, Australia was the host country for Europeans for more than 200 years but the 20th and 21st centuries brought new trends. Thus, in the 1990s, a half of immigrants that came to Australia were from Asia (Valtonen 2012). This means that the number of Asian immigrants is rapidly growing and the Australian society is becoming more culturally diverse. The government acknowledges the changes occurring and is undertaking the necessary steps to “set multicultural agenda” (Stobbs 2012, p. 19). There are numerous organisations that focus on the rights of immigrants and the government comes up with various regulations that set certain conventions and help people to develop proper relationships. Immigration policies are quite strict and flexible at the same time, which enables people from different backgrounds come to the country but it is also ensured that the people are eager to live according to the rules and contribute to development of the Australian society (Crock, Howe, McCallum 2014). Cully (2011) notes that these policies with their restrictions and opportunities have proved to be effective and have had a positive impact on development of the Australian labour force. Jupp (2013) state that immigration is unlikely to decrease in the near future and, therefore, it is necessary to employ the same policies.
At this point, it is necessary to add that there are certain agencies that deal with certain supervision and control. Police focuses on the order while numerous organisations help immigrants to adapt to the new environment. Of course, it is possible to create the agency that would focus on conflicts existing within areas where several ethnic minorities dwell. However, the agency will simply duplicate activities of police and organisations mentioned above. Creation of the agency will be associated with significant resources as it involves staffing, development of methodology, and so on. In the period of financial constraints, creation of new agencies is quite inefficient.
However, it is also important to add that the government should still enhance its efforts aimed at creating multicultural society. This can be achieved through inclusion of media. Birrell (2013) stresses that media have played an important role in shaping public opinion. As has been mentioned above, there were different trends at different times and media contributed greatly to creation and maintenance of the trends. Hence, it is crucial to make sure that the efforts aimed at development of a truly multicultural society in Australia obtains the necessary media coverage. It is important to develop a comprehensive strategy that would address challenges and opportunities existing in the contemporary Australian society. Such values as the good of all, tolerance, trust, support should come to the fore. Australians as well as newcomers should understand that together they will be able to make a difference and contribute to development of the Australian society. Media will be the most important tool in proliferation of these ideas.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that Australia is one of the most culturally diverse countries and people in the country have had quite different views on the matter. There were times when certain ethnic groups were unwanted and could hardly enter the country where people of European heritage dominated. At present, the government is trying to promote multiculturalism and many Australians share similar ideas on immigration. Even though some still think that immigrants have to be strictly controlled in order to prevent crime and conflicts, it is clear that it is far more effective to develop a new paradigm and work on development of the multicultural society. Sufficient media coverage will make the process efficient and Australians will be able to work on development of multiculturalism in their society.
Birrell, B 2013, ‘Media effects and immigration policy in Australia’, in GP Freeman, R Hansen & DL Leal (eds), Immigration and public opinion in liberal democracies, Routledge, New York, NY, pp. 254-271.
Castles, S, Vasta, E & Ozkul, D 2014, ‘A classical immigration country in transition’, in J Hollifield, P Martin & P Orrenius (eds), Controlling immigration: a global perspective, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, pp. 128-151.
Crock, M, Howe, S, McCallum, R 2014, ‘ Conflicted priorities? Enforcing fairness for temporary migrants’, in AW Mellon, C Costello, M Freedland (eds), Migrants at work: immigration and vulnerability, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 423-447.
Hampshire, J 2013, The politics of immigration: contradictions of the liberal state, Polity, Cambridge, UK.
Cully, M 2008, ‘Skilled migration selection policies: recent Australian reforms’, Migration Policy Practice, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 4-8.
Jupp, J 2013, ‘Australia and labour market’, in S Mantu & E Guild (eds), Constructing and imagining labour migration: perspectives of control from five continents, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, Surrey, UK, pp. 175-189.
Nicolacopoulos, T & Vassilacopoulos, G 2012, ‘Australian multiculturalism: beyond management models’, in R Hasmath (ed), Managing ethnic diversity: meanings and practices from an international perspective, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, Surrey, UK, pp. 141-163.
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Stobbs, N 2012, ‘Australia’, in G Antonopoulos & J Winterdyk (eds), Racist victimization: international reflections and perspectives, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, Hampshire, UK, pp. 19-43.
Valtonen, K 2012, Social work and migration: immigrant and refugee settlement and integration, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Surrey, UK.