It is often argued that Australian multiculturalism as a public policy has never been explained. This is quite untrue, but it remains true that changes of emphasis between governments of different persuasions have created a confusing impression. Different usages of the term in various European and North American democracies have added to this confusion. However, Australia has good claims, along with Canada, of having developed and implemented a coherent set of policies over a period of almost forty years. A range of public and private institutions has taken part in this process. What is still lacking is a widespread understanding of the ethnic, cultural and linguistic changes which have occurred in Australia during this period. Partly this reflects the fact that multicultural interactions are largely confined to metropolitan areas (in which the majority of Australians live), a few provincial cities, and irrigation and mining districts. They have only marginally impacted on the provincial and rural districts on which so much of the ‘myths’ of Australia continue to rest. They have also been resisted by many established politicians, bureaucrats, academics and business leaders who still conceptualise Australia as an homogenous and uniform society, as it largely was in the era in which they grew up.
James Jupp and Michael Clyn
Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
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