Multiculturalism in Australia

From Theorising to Policy-Making

July 6 2012


On the 6th of July the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation hosted a national symposium bringing leading theorists of culture and ethnicity together with multicultural policy makers and practitioners from across Australia. This symposium enabled leading practitioners and academics the opportunity to engage on the topic and to discuss the various challenges as well as current developments. In this way a broader understanding of the complex relationship between academic theorisation, government policy and community needs can be gained. It further aimed to explore future directions for the good governance of cultural diversity as a basis for building cohesive and inclusive societies. Since the late 1970s multicultural policy in Australia has constantly evolved in response community needs and social change. It is this ability of multiculturalism in Australia to evolve which ensures that it remains robust and relevant as well as providing a model for other countries. This workshop was a timely way of responding to the global swing against multiculturalism which has not gone unnoticed in Australia.

Key themes to be addressed by presenters will include the following:

  • Trends, challenges and developments in multicultural governance and migrant settlement support
  • Practical challenges to implementing policy and challenges relating to public or media misconceptions
  • Multiculturalism's role vis-a-vis the new discourse on global citizenship and cosmopolitanism
  • The alternative frameworks of transcultural capital and inter-sectionality
  • The link between multicultural and feminist thought
  • Multiculturalism, religion and secularism

Download the symposium program.


Dr Hass Dellal, Executive Director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation, Melbourne

Dr Hass Dellal was appointed Executive Director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation in 1989, an organisation established to promote a strong commitment to Australia as one people drawn from many cultures. Between 2002-2004 he was also appointed a part time Special Adviser for the Australasian Police Multicultural Advisory Bureau by the Conference of Commissioners of Police, Australasia and the South West Pacific Region.

Dr Dellal has had extensive experience throughout Australia and internationally on multicultural affairs and has spearheaded a number of initiatives for the benefit and development of the general community. He serves on a number of committees and boards and has prepared numerous reports, programs and conferences that deal in community relations, community capacity building, business, police relations, youth issues, access and equity, cultural and religious diversity, skill recognition, cross cultural training, second language development, philanthropy and the arts as well as research for policy development on behalf of Government, Community and the private sector.

Ms Carmel GuerraChief Executive Officer, Centre for Multicultural Youth, Melbourne

Carmel is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) based in Melbourne. CMY is a community based organisation that provides services to and advocates for the needs of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

Carmel has over 20 years' experience in the community sector. She has contributed to a range of research reports relating to multicultural youth. These include: Ethnic Youth Gangs in Australia: Do they exist? and Wealth of all Nations, the first comprehensive study undertaken into the needs of refugee young people in Australia. She is a frequent contributor to discussions on multicultural youth, providing commentary to local and national press, television and radio.

Carmel has served on numerous boards and committees for the Government and non-Government sectors and is a member of the Australian Multicultural Council, Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council (RRAC), Centrelink's National Multicultural Advisory Group (NMAG) and currently convenes the national Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN). 

In 1994 Carmel was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate issues of refugee and migrant youth overseas. In 2003 she earned a Centenary Medal for services to young people, migrant and refugee communities and in 2005 was entered into the Victorian Women's Honour Roll for her services to the community.

Mr Warren Pearson, Assistant Secretary, Multicultural Affairs, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Canberra

Warren joined the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in 2012 as Assistant Secretary, Multicultural Affairs. His focus in the role is leading the development and implementation of social inclusion policy for culturally and linguistically diverse Australians, and social cohesion policy promoting multicultural Australia. Previously he specialised in the promotion of civics and citizenship as the CEO of the National Australia Day Council and the Australian of the Year Awards. He has a long background in community engagement, civic events, communications management and Australian identity. Warren was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001 was made a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in 2010 for service to the community through leadership roles, promotion of the celebration of the Australian identity and citizenship, and reconciliation.

Mr Chin Tan, Chairperson, Victorian Multicultural Commission, Melbourne

Mr Chin Tan has broad experience and involvement in the legal profession, business and community service. Mr Tan is committed to active involvement in the area of multiculturalism having held various community and government board positions. Mr Tan brings to his role at the Commission valuable legal, community and leadership skills, as well as prior experience with the Commission.


Emeritus Professor Gary BoumaProfessor of Sociology and UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations - Asia Pacific, Monash University

The Changing Shape of Religious Diversity in Australia: Census 2011 findings

The 2011 Australian Census results are due out on June 21, this presentation outlines significant changes in the past 5 years and discusses their implications for the future of religion in Australia. There is reason to believe that there will be interesting changes in patterns of religious identification as the realities of religious diversity take hold. Be among the first to take careful look these data.

Emeritus Professor Bouma

Gary D Bouma is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations - Asia Pacific at Monash University and an Associate Priest in the Anglican Parish of St John's East Malvern. From 2006-2010 he was Chair, Board of Directors for The Parliament of the World's Religions 2009. His research in the sociology of religion examines the management of religious diversity in plural multicultural societies, post modernity as a context for doing theology, religion and terror, religion and public policy. He is the author of over 20 books. Recent books include: Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge University Press); Democracy in Islam (Routledge);Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands: National Case Studies (Springer); and Freedom of Religion and Belief in 21st Century Australia (Australian Human Rights Commission). His latest book is Being Faithful in Diversity: Religions and Social Policy in Multifaith Societies (Australasian Theological Forum).

 Associate Professor Val Colic-PeiskerAssociate Professor of Sociology in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT Multiculturalism and Fear in Australia

This paper analyses the current state of Australian multiculturalism, focusing on fears that colour the multicultural nation-building through immigration. Australia's immigration and multicultural policy is generally considered a success. This success has been largely due to Australia's economic prosperity and a sharp economic-pragmatic focus of its immigration, with the dominant emphasis on skills and employability of migrants. This is particularly the case over the past 15 years with a large, increasingly economically-focused but also increasingly 'un-humanitarian' immigration. In the Australian public imagination, discourse and policy, the orderly, planned, economically-focused immigration is sharply separated from the humanitarian and especially asylum seekers' intake, often presented as chaotic boat-arriving, inherently a 'burden to taxpayers'. This perception of humanitarian immigration primes the public for 'punishing' such behaviour by supporting policies of mandatory (sometimes indefinite) detention, temporary protection visas and other un-humanitarian measures. These two types of immigration seem to correspond to two different ideas of multiculturalism: one that is known, safe, controlled and economically advantageous for the sovereign nation firmly in charge of its cultural diversity as well as borders; and the other that represents the unwanted and uncontrollable trans-national aspects of globalisation that expose the nation to social change and causes fear.

Associate Professor Colic-Peisker

Val Colic-Peisker is an Associate Professor (sociology) in the School of GSSSP. She previously worked at Monash and Murdoch Universities and University of Western Australia.

Before becoming a full-time academic, Val worked as a radio-producer at the Croatian National Radio in Zagreb, a journalist and translator in the Croatian Press Agency (HINA) and as a freelance author. She has published extensively, in academic and mainstream media.

Val's research is interdisciplinary, theoretically as well as policy-oriented, spanning sociology, political science, social psychology and economics, and uses qualitative as well as quantitative research methods. Val's central research interests are in the areas of migration, mobility, globalisation, cosmopolitnism and Australian immigration and settlement policies. Her research has focused on notions of ethnicity/race, identity, community and class. Val 's recent publications cover topics such as labour and residential integration of immigrants in Australia, especially those from NESB; development of Australian multiculturalism; and home ownership in Australia.

Associate Professor Anita Harris, ARC Future Fellow, Monash University

Diversity, Youth and The Limits of Social Cohesion

Over the last decade youth-driven civil unrest, 'home grown' terrorist attacks and the visibility of large and youthful immigrant populations in global cities have become constructed as inter-related problems that call into question the sustainability of diversity and the future of the nation as we know it. A new agenda of social cohesion has emerged that aims to engender consensus and shared values at the level of the community, in part to manage the problem that youth seem to pose. But how might this new generation of ordinary social actors be experiencing and shaping multicultural civic life within and beyond the cohesion agenda? Drawing on research with young people in Australia's most diverse neighbourhoods, Anita Harris illustrates how ideals such as consensus, shared attachment to place and an absence of conflict can be out of step with the often productive, everyday multiculturalism enacted by young people today.

Associate Professor Harris

Anita Harris is an ARC Future Fellow undertaking a project entitled 'Young People and Social Inclusion in the Multicultural City' and an ARC Discovery Project (2011-2013) on 'The Civic Life of Young Australian Muslims: Active Citizenship, Community Belonging and Social Inclusion'. Anita returned to Monash in February 2011 after undertaking a Mid-Career Research Fellowship at the University of Queensland, where she was also Deputy Director of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies.  Her research interests include youth identities and cultures; citizenship, participation and new politics, and globalisation and multiculturalism, and she is best known as a leader in the interdisciplinary field of girls' studies. She has recently completed an ARC Discovery project on young people's emergent practices of political engagement and civic connection (2005-2009; with Johanna Wyn, University of Melbourne).

Dr. Geoffrey Brahm Levey, ARC Future Fellow, School of Social Sciences, University New South Wales

Inclusion: The Missing Step in Australian Multiculturalism

Like other liberal democracies, Australia's public life and institutions have been informed by the universal values proclaimed in the French Revolution: liberty, equality, fraternity. Yet, looking back over some thirty-five years of multicultural Australia, one is struck by how little emphasis there has been on the value of fraternity or inclusion compared with that on the values of liberty, equality, and public goods. Curiously, inclusiveness has been largely absent in the land of mateship and constitutes a missing step in Australia's effort to build a harmonious, multicultural democracy. In this discussion, I detail the inadequate attention given to inclusiveness in Australian multiculturalism, and attempt to outline the key principles and practices that follow from trying to honour fraternity or inclusiveness as a value in its own right.

Dr. Levey

Geoffrey Brahm Levey is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in political science at the University of New South Wales, where he was founding Director of the Program in Jewish Studies. He gained his Ph.D. from Brown University and an M.Soc.Sci. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prior to his UNSW appointment, he was the Biegun Warburg Junior Research Fellow in Human and Social Sciences at the University of Oxford. He is editor of Political Theory and Australian Multiculturalism (Berghahn Books, 2nd ed. 2012, 2008), and co-editor (with Tariq Modood) of Secularism, Religion and Multicultural Citizenship(Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Associate Professor Gabriele Marranci, Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University.

Multiculturalism and the "clash of civilizers": from the UK to Australia, stopping over in Singapore

From the UK to Australia, multiculturalism, as a concept and social practice, has been challenged, if not dismissed. Even Singapore, a state marked by a strong endorsement of multiculturalism, has seen Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in his last book "Hard Truths" declaring "we can integrate all religions and races except Islam". It is without doubt that the new emphasis on the alleged failure of multiculturalism has something to do with how mass media, commentators, politicians and also some scholars understand, represent and define Islam. Based on research in the UK, Singapore and Australia, this paper, starting from Mamdani's "Culture Talk" (2004), will argue that the widespread pronouncement of multiculturalism's failure is in reality the tip of the iceberg of a more complex and rather dangerous ideological discourse which is affected by what I have called - critically modifying Huntington's expression (1996 - "clash of civilizers" (Marranci 2009). Civilizer rhetoric can only perceive multiculturalism as a dangerous failure and a threat. As I will explain, the 'civilizer' ideology is fueled by "Culture Talk", mistakes of logical types (Bateson 2000) and Eurocentric historical evolutionarism'.

Dr. Marranci

Dr Gabriele Marranci has recently joined the Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. He is also an Honorary Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK, Cardiff University and was until recently Associate Professor within the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore. 

Dr Marranci is an anthropologist by training working on youth, religion and cosmopolitan society and multiculturalism with a specialization in Muslim societies. His main research interests concern youth identity, religion, extremism, political Islam and secularization processes. Dr Marranci has widely published on these topics in peer-reviewed journals and in book chapters.

He is the author of four monographs, Jihad beyond Islam (2006, London, New York: Berg), The Anthropology of Islam, (2008, London, New York: Berg), Understanding Muslim Identity, Rethinking Fundamentalism  (2009, London, New York: Palgrave Macmillan) and  Faith, Ideology and Fear: Muslim Identities Within and Beyond Prisons (2009, London: Continuum Books).

He is the founding editor of Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life, published by the international publisher Springer and the Chief Editor of the Handbook of Contemporary Islam, which is part of Springer Live Reference works. He has established (with Prof. Bryan Turner) the book series Muslims in Global Societies (Springer).

For more information

Professor Georgina TsolidisSchool of Education, University of Ballarat

Multiculturalism and Feminism - An assumed incompatibility

A range of social movements marked the 1970s and 1980s and arguably drove a shift in policy direction. Multiculturalism and feminism were two social movements with marked consequences, including for education policy and practice. A suspicion existed that these initiatives were incompatible and this played out most notably when policy was enacted. The assumed incompatibility of multiculturalism and feminism relies on a range of commonly unstated understandings. These will be explored paying particular attention to some of the debates surrounding the contemporary backlash against multiculturalism and how gender relations are implicated.

Prof. Tsolidis

Professor Georgina Tsolidis joined the academy after working with the Ministry for Education where she conducted research, policy analysis and professional development related to multiculturalism and gender equity. Her research is concerned with the relationship between gender and ethnicity with reference to education policy and practice and cultural reproduction in the diaspora. She has been the Chair of the Monash Centre for Intercultural Studies, a former Editor of the Journal of Intercultural Studies and is currently an executive member of the International Sociological Association Research Committee on Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations. Some of her monographs include Reproducing Cultures : Borderless identification as women's work, Fishponds UK: Intellect Ltd (forthcoming); Youthful Imagination - schooling, subcultures and social justice, Peter Lang Publications, New York; Schooling, Diaspora and Gender - Being Feminist and Being Different, Open University Press, Buckingham and Philadelphia. She is editor of Living Diaspora - family, education and identity, Springer (forthcoming) and Interculturalism, Meaning and Identity, Interdisciplinary Press, Oxford.

 Dr. Ian Woodward, School of Humanities, Griffith University

Conceptualising the cosmopolitan encounter

Drawing upon the notion of openness as a principle discourse of contemporary cosmopolitanism studies, this paper explores cosmopolitanism as a form of openness to cultural difference which finds expression within social encounters. It critically considers the range of ways cosmopolitanism has been studied empirically and delineates between cosmopolitanism as a disposition, a cultural repertoire and as social performance. Arguing against the strategy of finding some type of authentic cosmopolitan identity, the paper shows how various material, spatial, cultural and performative dimensions actually constitute cosmopolitanism, and are constitutive of cosmopolitan social action. By exploring the usefulness of the concept of encounter to cosmopolitanism studies, the paper highlights the assembled and contingent nature of cosmopolitan sentiments, underlining the way such attitudes are afforded and constructed within particular social contexts. It is argued that the notion of encounter allows researchers to overcome some of the issues that currently exist within the field of cosmopolitanism studies.

Dr. Woodward

Ian Woodward is Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Humanities, Griffith University, Australia, and Deputy Director of the Centre for Cultural Research at Griffith University. His research on material culture, consumption, taste and performativity is widely published. His reconstruction of the field of consumption studies, 'Understanding Material Culture', was published by Sage in 2007. Woodward also researches dimensions and practices of cultural openness and his research on cosmopolitanism (most of which is co-authored with Zlatko Skrbis and Gavin Kendall) has been published in journals such as Theory, Culture and SocietyThe Sociological Review, Journal of Sociology and The British Journal of Sociology. Their collaborative research in this area, which connects classical sociological theory to ideas on mobility, hospitality, technology and community, 'The Sociology of Cosmopolitanism', was published by Palgrave in 2009. With a group of Griffith colleagues and an international team of authors, he is a co-author of the book 'Cultural Sociology: An Introduction', published by Blackwell (2012). Woodward has served on the Executive Board of The Australian Sociological Association. He is a board member on the new journal outlet, the American Journal of Cultural Sociology, and an Editor of The Journal of Sociology. In 2010-2011 he was a Fellow of the Kulturwissenschaftliches Kolleg, University of Konstanz, Germany.


Prof. Fethi MansouriCentre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University

Prof. Fethi Mansouri, Director of the strategic research Centre  for Citizenship and Globalisation, holds a Chair in Migration and Intercultural Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University. He is the editor of the A-ranked Journal of Intercultural Studies (Routledge) and an expert advisor to the United Nations (Alliance of Civilisations ) on cultural diversity and intercultural relations. His recent publications include: 'Political Islam and Human Security' (2008) and 'Islam and Political Violence: Muslim Diaspora and Radicalism in the West', (2007); 'Identity, Education, and Belonging: Arab and Muslim Youth in Contemporary Australia' (2008); 'Youth Identity and Migration: Culture, Values and Social Connectedness' (2009);  'Australia and the Middle East: A Frontline Relationship' (2011, second edition); and 'Migration, Citizenship and Intercultural Relations: Looking Through the Les of Social Inclusion' ( 2011). His recent books include:  'Muslim Diasporas and the Challenges of Representations and National Belonging' (2012);  and  'The Arab Revolutions in Context: Socio-Political Implications for the Middle East and Beyond' (2012). His forthcoming book is entitled  'Reframing Multiculturalism for the 21st Century' (2013).  His 2004 book 'Lives in Limbo: Voices of Refugees under Temporary Protection' was short-listed for the 2004 Human Rights Medals and Awards.

Dr. Vince Marotta, Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University

Dr Vince Marotta is Deputy Director of the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation and is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University.

Dr Marotta's main research interests include social theory, cosmopolitanism, theories of the stranger, urban sociology, immigration, multiculturalism and cultural identity.

As Deputy Director of the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Dr Marotta assist in the leadership of the Centre and its team, as well as the establishment and maintenance of collaborations with industry partners and community stakeholders.

As Managing Editor of the Journal of Intercultural Studies (Routledge), Dr Marotta brings together a range of high quality research papers for publication. Alongside this, he has organised and edited the Citizenship and Globalisation Research Papers, which is an in-house research paper series. In 2011 Dr Marotta sat on the organising committee of the CCG/UNAOC Integration: Building Inclusive Societies Forum. Dr Marotta was also on the organising committee for the International Multicultural Symposium which took place in late November, 2011 at the University of Ottawa, Canada.

 Dr. Alex Naraniecki, Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University

Alex Naraniecki is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation. His current research project is titled 'New Foundations for Multiculturalism' and is currently working on various publications including a monograph, research papers, scholarly articles and book chapters as well as research projects focusing on the development of multiculturalism in Australia. Dr Naraniecki is also working on collaborative empirical projects looking at the role of recognition and dialogue in promoting intercultural relations. Dr. Naraniecki is further involved in collaborative research projects within the Migration and Intercultural Relations Research Cluster.

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