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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »

Milestones in Queensland

Uri Themal.

Community leader Uri Themal reviews some of the major developments which built multicultural policy in the state into a coordinated approach across government and the community.



Date Added:

16 February 2006


Uri Themal interviewed by Andrew Jakubowicz for MMA


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

12.6 MB


5 min 29 s


Uri Themal

Activist, Administrator, Community Leader

Former Head, Bureau of Ethnic Affairs and Multicultural Affairs Queensland

Multiculturalism comes to Queensland

When I arrived in 1990, which was about three months, I think, into the Goss government, the atmosphere was quite euphoric. It was an amazing atmosphere, like a liberated nation. It was full of enthusiasm, full of energy, full of creativity. And especially the public service was bustling with new ideas and reforms, and just tremendous energy…

To start with, there was no homogenous and systematic approach to any policy as such. There was no community relations policy. There was no multicultural policy. There wasn't even an ethnic affairs policy, if you wanted to limit it…

We should work towards a multicultural policy as it existed by then in the rest of Australia and build it up to that kind of capacity…

To work across government, to ensure that all government departments understood the principles of equality of opportunity, non-discrimination, the policies of serving a diverse society, which included such things as language policy, and access and equity to programs and services…


The establishment of the Bureau of Ethnic Affairs, the establishment of policy principles, which addressed ethnic affairs as much as brought in the broader concept of multiculturalism; the public service adopting equality of opportunity legislation and implementing it across the public service; the creation of the Anti-Discrimination Commission…

The creation of a grant, which began to grow, of the government committing itself to funding multicultural events; the development of the Queensland multicultural policy through its various stages; the move from where the Bureau of Ethnic Affairs originally sat – that is, in the Department of Family Services, for some reason – to being in the Premier's Department and initially relating directly to the Premier, through the Director General of the department…

The development of advisory and consultative processes across the state; the creation of special programs supporting multicultural activities and events across the state. And finally, I think most importantly, the move of the office, which is now called Multicultural Affairs Queensland, from Yungaba outside the city, in a place which was identified with migrant reception, to the city, now in the Premier's Department, in the mainstream of the centre of the political will of the state…

We created a lead group among CEOs, who wanted to model best practice in multicultural administration…

LAMP policy – the Local Area Multicultural Policy - which provided a grant by the Premier, a budget, to I think initially 14 councils that were prepared to participate, to place a multicultural officer in council to advise the council and develop for them a multicultural policy and implement it. And so that LAMP program was a very important vehicle to get multiculturalism into the third level of government…

We can never sit back and say – ah! we've reached nirvana, multiculturalism universally accepted and that's it, we don't have to do anything anymore. We continually have to work at it and we continually have to progress.