a multicultural History of Australia

Making multicultural Australia

Search the complete site: ... Sitemap » ... Links to other sites »

multicultural Timeline »

Period: This Generation »


Commentary on: Victoria’s Changing Communities »

Prof Andrew Jakubowicz.

Text Commentary

(Audio file available at a later date)

By 2006 the top ten source countries for migrants to Victoria were: India, New Zealand, China (not including SARs and Taiwan), U.K., Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Sudan and Afghanistan. Victorian debates about multiculturalism increasingly reflected the changing world environment of increasing globalisation and economic and security uncertainties. New communities were becoming the focus of public attention, as they became more deeply integrated into Victorian economic and social life. Government policies identified and responded to the needs of new groups, though at times some communities experienced a degree of stereotyping or even animosity on the part of some sections of the public or media.

Victorian refugee support services also needed to respond to the new cultural and other kinds of challenges facing new refugee groups from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. However the state government also saw both skilled and humanitarian immigration as a critical part of its economic development strategy. It directed refugees to rural centres in need of labour, though refugees also often moved there by preference. It drew on the more skilled groups to support its globalisation efforts, seeing their links into Asia and other potential trading partner countries as being of great value to all Victorians.

Ethnic communities were also experiencing major changes, including ageing leadership amongst some communities, a reflection of ageing populations among the post-war arrivals. Younger members of Victoria’s ethnic communities, on the other hand, had to navigate a new education system and employment landscape; many adjusted to this new environment with considerable success. Emphasis was given to building new leadership among established communities which would develop alliances with new arrivals, such as in the Australia Africa democracy project run by the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria.

The government worked steadily through its reform agenda, undertaking another review of the Multicultural Victoria Act in 2008. The review proposed a series of revisions to the Act, with particular focus on social inclusion issues like the needs of women, the elderly and young people at risk. Following the review, the Government proposed to strengthen its “mainstreaming” agenda that already required all government departments to report their progress under cultural diversity plans. Departments were to apply these more effectively in rural and regional parts of the state and to promote human rights as defined in the 2008 Charter.

New strategies in multicultural education were announced in March 2009, reflecting the changing communities of the state and the wider context of accelerating globalisation.