Being Australian 30b: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 16 — fair, reasonable, and far from radical — 2

See Being Australian 30a: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 16 — fair, reasonable, and far from radical — 1.

Reprise

Multiculturalism is a policy based on rights and responsibilities which has been endorsed by Australian governments for managing a unified nation which is culturally diverse. The policy of multiculturalism replaced the previous policy of assimilation.

There are important overriding principles of multiculturalism which can be summarised in the following way:

· LOYALTY TO AUSTRALIA: all Australians should have an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia’s interests and future first and foremost;

· ACCEPTANCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN SYSTEM: all Australians are required to accept the basic structures and principles of Australian society—the Constitution, Australian laws, tolerance, equality, democracy, freedom of speech and religion, English as the national language and equality of the sexes; and

· MUTUAL RESPECT: all Australians have the right to express their culture and beliefs and this involves a reciprocal responsibility to accept the right of others to express their beliefs and values.

Multiculturalism is about inclusion and recognition within the principles enshrined above. It recognises the right of all Australians to enjoy their cultural heritage (including language and religion), and the right to equal treatment and opportunities for everyone regardless of their backgrounds. Multiculturalism also aims to ensure maximum use of the skills and talents of all Australians to assist economic efficiency.

Now honestly: what’s not to like about that formulation? Even Philip Ruddock, Howard’s Immigration Minister, seems to be conceding the point about language – scrapped by his government – when interviewed on the occasion of SBS’s birthday. Again, see the video on the previous post.

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Waiting for the Wollongong train, Central Station yesterday

I deliberately quoted there the “most radical” formulation of our policy of inclusive multiculturalism, the version John Howard saw fit to alter:

What is multiculturalism? (John Howard version)

Australia is made up of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Multiculturalism celebrates this diversity and recognises the challenges and opportunities that come with it. The main principles of Australia’s policy of multiculturalism are:

  • Responsibilities of all – all Australians have a civic duty to support those basic structures and principles of Australian society which guarantee us our freedom and equality and enable diversity in our society to flourish.
  • Respect for each person – subject to the law, all Australians have the right to express their own culture and beliefs and have a reciprocal obligation to respect the right of others to do the same.
  • Fairness for each person – all Australians are entitled to equality of treatment and opportunity. Social equity allows us all to contribute to the social, political and economic life of Australia, free from discrimination, including on the grounds of race, culture, religion, language, location, gender or place of birth*.
  • Benefits for all – all Australians benefit from productive diversity, that is, the significant cultural, social and economic dividends arising from the diversity of our population. Diversity works for all Australians.

And yet, as you see, it is essentially the same.

In neither case is inclusive multiculturalism a blank cheque.

Your culture favours cannibalism, infanticide, clitoral excision, blowing people up? Sorry, not on.

There are important overriding principles of multiculturalism which can be summarised in the following way:

· LOYALTY TO AUSTRALIA: all Australians should have an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia’s interests and future first and foremost;

· ACCEPTANCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN SYSTEM: all Australians are required to accept the basic structures and principles of Australian society—the Constitution, Australian laws, tolerance, equality, democracy, freedom of speech and religion, English as the national language and equality of the sexes; and

· MUTUAL RESPECT: all Australians have the right to express their culture and beliefs and this involves a reciprocal responsibility to accept the right of others to express their beliefs and values.

But what the migrant is told is that, aside from anything likely to disrupt the way of life and values we all subscribe to when we take our oath of citizenship, what you bring to us is valued and respected. Yes, you can be a Muslim. Yes, you can speak Swahili with your friends at home or on the bus. Yes, you can wear “funny” clothes. Yes, you can practise whatever customs of your culture that give you comfort and are part of your identity. Yes, we even may delight in sharing these with you.

Radical? Divisive?

I don’t think so.

The divisive ones are the ones who try to force what are for the most part outmoded ideas of being Australian on their fellow citizens, who fill the media and the blogosphere with erroneous information and hate speech.

They are the ones who spread disharmony. They are the ones so unpatriotic as not to rejoice in something our country has done very well, in the main.

Inclusive multiculturalism is simply the extension into the 21st century of those values of the fair go and mateship we pride ourselves on.

Don’t knock it. Understand it. Embrace it. Enjoy it.

Thanks Jim Belshaw

Neil Whitfield has continued his discussion on multicultural Australia. I find that my hackles rise quickly on this one. Just mention Paul Keating and multiculturalism in one breath and past resentments arise. I cannot help it.

The extent to which Mr Keating and his policies, especially the way he expressed those policies, contributed to the rise of One Nation and a popular resentment that actually seemed to threaten a multi-ethnic Australia should now be left to the historians. Neil’s broader point, current Australia is at it is, is more important.

James O’Brien’s pleasant and gentle post on Australia Day, More Than Thongs, was a helpful reminder to a natural pontificator like me. He wrote:

Unfortunately, one of the great dilemmas of Australia Day is the way in which people on the fringe have appropriated the day in the media and in a very public way.

Most of us aren’t on the extremes. We are comfortable in our notion of national identity. I’m pleased that, as a nation, we’ve gone down the path of quiet national pride compared with the more outspoken elements of American nationalism, for example. Most of us simply enjoy the holiday, enjoy catching up with friends and family and do something vaguely nationalistic which generally amounts to little more than wishing someone else “Happy Australia Day”. And that’s how I spent Australia Day: a walk around the portrait gallery, a trip back from Canberra to Sydney on the bus, and a catch-up with friends at a pub on New Canterbury Road.

I think that’s pretty right.

Among younger Australians, my daughters and her friends are the group I know best. Before Helen left for Copenhagen, one big issue was just what strange and fictitious elements of Australia might be put on show to the hopeful confusion of fellow residents at the Copenhagen Business School. Drop bears were one candidate, although Helen kind of destroyed this one in Copenhagen by breaking into laughter at the wrong moment!

Now this is no different from Brother David and I when we went to Asia for the first time all those years ago. Drop bears, of course, didn’t exist then. After all, they are in fact mainly an advertising created concept. Yet the principle was the same.

Just so long as Australians don’t take themselves too seriously, the country will get by.  

And that seems a good enough way to end this series!    

PS

Another factoid we learned along the way.

Only 1% of the total immigration intake since 1976 is from boat people.

And here is another:

The Humanitarian Program for 2010–11 is set at 13 750 places and comprises:

  • refugees from overseas – 6000 places
  • other humanitarian – 7750 places (this includes places for the offshore SHP and onshore needs).

Number without boat people: 13,750

Number including boat people: 13,750

National Library

Just to remind you that this blog is archived in the National Library of Australia’s Pandora Project. I hope somebody who finds it there will enjoy this January 2011 series.

The Dowager Empress’s wake

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See Requiem for a Dowager Empress.

Death Is Nothing At All
Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
whatever we were to each other
that we still are
call me by my old familiar name
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used
put no difference in your tone
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together
pray smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
without the trace of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
it is the same as it ever was
there is unbroken continuity
why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you
somewhere very near
just around the corner
All is well

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Being Australian 30a: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 16 — fair, reasonable, and far from radical — 1

So what is all the fuss about? Scary monsters. Toothless tigers. Nightmares rather than reality. Fantasies. Raging presuppositions and prejudices. Something nasty in the wood shed.

Multicultural and multi-ethnic Australia: no other Australia exists.

This is the Australia you are standing in right now:

OVERSEAS BORN POPULATION

Australia, along with New Zealand, Canada and the United States, is often described as a ‘settlement country’. All four countries have experienced positive net overseas migration in recent years (OECD 2010). These countries have relatively high proportions of the population who were born overseas, when compared with other OECD countries. Australia has the highest proportion aside from Luxembourg, where over one third of the population are foreign-born.

Foreign-born in selected OECD countries – 1997 and 2007

Percentage of population
Country
1997
2007

Australia
23.3
25.0
Canada
17.7
20.1
Finland
2.2
3.8
Italy(a)
2.1
5.8
Japan(a)
1.2
1.7
Luxembourg
31.9
36.2
Mexico(b)
0.4
0.4
United Kingdom
7.2
10.2
United States
10.7
13.6

(a) Foreign population rather than foreign-born population.
(b) Data for Mexico are for 1995 and 2005.
Source: OECD, OECD in Figures 2009

Australia has experienced successive waves of immigration over the past century, and each wave has been characterised by a different predominant region of origin, usually related to world events of the period. In the post Second World War period, immigration from Europe increased markedly. In recent times, the proportion of Australians who were born in European countries has declined. As those earlier immigrants have grown older and returned to their country of origin or died, current levels of immigration from these regions have not been high enough to replace them. However in 2007-08, North-West Europe and Southern and Eastern Europe were still the most common regions of birth for Australians born overseas (7.2% and 3.8% of all Australians were born in these regions). The proportion of Australians who were born in the various regions of Asia has continued to increase over the last decade, part of a trend that began in the late 1970s.

Regions of birth, Proportion of Australia’s population, 30 June – 1999 and 2009

1999
2009(a)
%
%

Australia
76.9
73.5
Oceania and Antarctica (excl. Aust.)
2.4
3.0
North-West Europe
7.9
7.2
Southern and Eastern Europe
4.6
3.8
North Africa and the Middle East
1.2
1.5
South-East Asia
2.8
3.4
North-East Asia
1.6
2.8
Southern and Central Asia
0.9
2.3
Americas
0.9
1.1
Sub-Saharan Africa
0.7
1.3

(a) Estimates for 2008-09 are preliminary.
Source: ABS Migration, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 3412.0)

Religion: one indicator of culture

Screen-shot-2010-10-13-at-2.09.45-PM

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Those figures come from the 2006 census via Ben Kwok.

He seems to have left something out though:

In the 1960s, 45 per cent of all new arrivals were born in the United Kingdom or Ireland. By the 1990s, this had fallen to 13 per cent, with the number of new settlers increasing from countries in the Asia–Pacific region, Africa and the Middle East. One result has been that non-Christian religions are now growing at a faster rate than Christian religions—in the past 10 years, the number of people affiliated with non-Christian faiths has almost doubled.

In the 2006 Census, 12.7 million reported that they were Christian, compared to around 12.6 million in the 1996 Census. However, as a proportion of the total population, the number of Christians fell from 71 per cent to 64 per cent. During the same period, people affiliated with non-Christian faiths increased from around 600 000 to 1.1 million and collectively accounted for 5.6 per cent of the total population in 2006, compared to 3.5 per cent in 1996.

The biggest Christian denominations continued to be Catholic (25.8 per cent of the population) followed by Anglican (18.7 per cent) and the Uniting Church (5.7 per cent). The biggest non-Christian religions were Buddhism (2.1 per cent), Islam (1.7 per cent) and Hinduism (0.7 per cent).

The number of Australian residents who stated in the Census that they had no religion increased from 2.9 million in 1996 to 3.7 million in 2006—almost 19 per cent of the total population.

Major religious affiliations—Census figures 1996 and 2006
Religion 1996
(’000)
% 2006
(’000)
% 1996–2006 (change %)
Christian 12 582.8 70.9 12 685.8 63.9 0.8
Catholic 4 799.0 27.0 5 126.9 25.8 6.8
Anglican 3 903.3 22.0 3 718.2 18.7 -4.7
Uniting Church 1 334.9 7.5 1 135.4 5.7 -14.9
Presbyterian and Reformed 675.5 3.8 596.7 3.0 -11.7
Eastern Orthodox 497.0 2.8 544.2 2.7 9.5
Non-Christian 616.4 3.5 1 105.1 5.6 79.3
Buddhism 199.8 1.1 418.8 2.1 109.6
Islam 200.9 1.1 340.4 1.7 69.4
Hinduism 67.3 0.4 148.1 0.7 120.2
Judaism 79.8 0.4 88.8 0.4 11.3
No religion 2 948.9 16.6 3 706.6 18.7 25.7
Not stated 1 550.6 8.7 2 224.0 11.2 43.4

Source: DFAT

Languages: another indicator of culture

Wikipedia offers the most convenient summary.

English is the de facto national language of Australia and is spoken by the vast majority of the population.

The most commonly spoken languages other than English in Australia are Italian, Greek, German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Chinese languages, Indian languages, Arabic and Croatian, as well as numerous Australian Aboriginal languages. Australia’s hearing-impaired community uses Australian Deaf Sign Language.

Language Speakers
Only English 15,581,333
Italian 316,895
Greek 252,226
Cantonese 244,553
Arabic 243,662
Mandarin 220,600
Vietnamese 194,863
Spanish 98,001
Filipino + Tagalog 92,331
German 75,634
Hindi 70,011
Macedonian 67,835
Croatian 63,612
Australian Aboriginal Languages 55,705
Korean 54,623
Turkish 53,857
Polish 53,389
Serbian 52,534
French 43,216
Indonesian 42,036
Maltese 36,514
Russian 36,502
Dutch 36,183
Japanese 35,111
Tamil 32,700
Sinhalese 29,055
Samoan 28,525
Portuguese 25,779
Khmer 24,715
Assyrian 23,526
Punjabi 23,164
Persian 22,841
Hungarian 21,565
Bengali 20,223
Urdu 19,288
Afrikaans 16,806
Bosnian 15,743

Many of the people listed there – in fact probably most – would have sufficient to excellent English as well.

Does this look like a country where simplistic notions of “monoculture” could possibly help?

Faced with our actual population the question is how best to maximise the assets these figures represent, how to enable each individual to have the best possible settlement experience, to take a phrase from Philip Ruddock in the previous post, how to maximise the freedom each one has to be fully himself or herself in their new country.

Answer: inclusive multiculturalism, perhaps best expressed under the Keating government thus:

Multiculturalism is a policy based on rights and responsibilities which has been endorsed by Australian governments for managing a unified nation which is culturally diverse. The policy of multiculturalism replaced the previous policy of assimilation.

There are important overriding principles of multiculturalism which can be summarised in the following way:

· LOYALTY TO AUSTRALIA: all Australians should have an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia’s interests and future first and foremost;

· ACCEPTANCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN SYSTEM: all Australians are required to accept the basic structures and principles of Australian society—the Constitution, Australian laws, tolerance, equality, democracy, freedom of speech and religion, English as the national language and equality of the sexes; and

· MUTUAL RESPECT: all Australians have the right to express their culture and beliefs and this involves a reciprocal responsibility to accept the right of others to express their beliefs and values.

Multiculturalism is about inclusion and recognition within the principles enshrined above. It recognises the right of all Australians to enjoy their cultural heritage (including language and religion), and the right to equal treatment and opportunities for everyone regardless of their backgrounds. Multiculturalism also aims to ensure maximum use of the skills and talents of all Australians to assist economic efficiency.

Now honestly: what’s not to like about that formulation? Even Philip Ruddock, Howard’s Immigration Minister, seems to be conceding the point about language – scrapped by his government – when interviewed on the occasion of SBS’s birthday. Again, see the video on the previous post.

Muslim crime in Australia: a sense of proportion

Sure, some Australian Muslims have been investigated for terrorist activities, and some have been convicted. Sure, there are some prominent examples, especially in Sydney, of “Middle Eastern Crime.”

But how many? There are around 500,000 Muslims in Australia. How many fall into either undesirable activity? 1%? 10%?

You work it out… My guess would be LESS THAN 1%.

Then try googling afghan crime australia or iranian crime australia or iraqi crime australia or indonesian crime australia. You’ll be disappointed.

To be continued. I soon realised summarising would take more than one post.

Being Australian 29: fusion fried eggs and tomatoes

1951 style

  1. Eggs – free range (the only kind available)
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Onions – lots of them
  4. Potatoes
  5. Beef dripping, or whatever kind is in the ice chest
  6. Salt – lots
  7. Pepper
  8. Worcestershire sauce – if you insist

I’ll leave quantities to your imagination. The potatoes should be washed, dried and sliced into rounds about 1/8th of an inch thick. Whatever you do, don’t let them go crispy when you fry them. Add heaps of salt.

Tasty it is too.

2011 style

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  1. Tomatoes
  2. Free range  eggs
  3. Shitake mushrooms, dried or fresh. If dried, pour boiling water on mushrooms and soak for at least 20 minutes
  4. Garlic
  5. Extra Virgin olive oil
  6. Sesame oil – a few drops optional
  7. Oyster sauce – a very generous slurp.
  8. A little water to add to the tomato mixture during cooking.

Mix chopped tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, chopped garlic in a small bowl. Add oyster sauce and a few drops of sesame oil. No extra salt needed. Let this sit while you oil the frying pan and bring to high heat. Then add the mix and stir fry. Add the eggs, keeping them separate. Fry eggs until almost done. Add a little water to the tomato mix. Reduce heat. Cover and let cook until eggs and tomato mix are as you want them.

Very tasty.

I had it for dinner last night.

Bonus videos: more than food

People of Sydney

The Face of Australia: Chinese New Year 2010

SBS tribute. Believe it or not, John Howard’s former Immigration Minister/Attorney-General Philip Ruddock betrays considerable understanding of settlement issues, including the value of services like SBS!