Deakin University, under the auspices of the UN Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), will bring the UN Forum on Social Inclusion to Australia for the first time on October 7th, 2011 at the Melbourne Town Hall.
Deakin University expert on migration and intercultural relations and Director, Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Professor Fethi Mansouri said the forum would provide different perspectives on policies of migrant integration, intercultural relations and governance of cultural diversity.
“This really is a terrific demonstration of how, by working with key partners - the Ethnic Community Council of Victoria (ECCV), The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), The Australian Multicultural Foundation of Australia (AMF), the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC), the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), Darebin City Council and many other state and commonwealth agencies - these important issues can be addressed,” he said.
Professor Mansouri said the UN Forum had attracted the attention of world leaders and State and Federal Ministers. Speakers would include former President of Portugal Jorge Sampaio (who is the UN Higher Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations); The Hon Nicolas Kotsiras, Victorian minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship; The Hon Chris Bowen, Federal Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Senator Kate Lundy. Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd also agreed to take part in a pre-forum public seminar on the morning of 6 October with confirmation and details to follow.
“UNAOC is an initiative of the UN Secretary General which aims to improve understanding and cooperative relations among nations and peoples across cultures and religions,” Professor Mansouri said.
“One of UNAOC’s key fields of action is migration and its IBIS “Integration: Building Inclusive Societies” program showcases best practice research and projects related to migrant integration across the world.
“A key aim of the Forum is also to launch the IBIS initiative in this part of the region, and to use the occasion to explore and debate multiculturalism, citizenship, identity and social inclusion.”
The Forum follows on from Professor Mansouri’s successful visit to the UN in New York earlier this year to work with leading experts providing advice on the drafting of Millennium Development Goals or MDG-type targets for member states in the areas of migration, integration, education and youth.
“Australia, being a multicultural society with one of the highest levels of diversity in the world, should be at the forefront of these debates and policy developments not least to ensure that we showcase the rest of the world the unique characteristics of our migrant integration policies and also to learn from other successful models in areas where we need to improve,” he said.
Professor Mansouri ‘s passion is understanding the complexities and issues refugees and migrants face as they arrive and settle in their host countries, particularly Australia, and their varied paths to citizenship. He is specifically interested in the integration of migrant youth into the host country. He is also a leading expert on the relationship between Australia and the Middle East.
Professor Mansouri - through his extensive publications and public speaking- has consistently argued for better integration policies and increased educational resources for youth in general and migrant youth in particular. His research has called for migrant youth to be engaged more meaningfully and connected more systematically to the mainstream institutions and networks.
His work has explored the social and structural impediments to social integration and intercultural understanding both nationally and internationally and what can be done to change it.