Over forty percent of Australian citizens are born overseas or had one parent born outside of Australia. People from almost two hundred countries have moved to Australia. The culture of Australia is not only diverse in race, but also in religion. Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam are all quite prevalent, while approximately one fourth of the population states no religious preference at all. (Chow) Multiculturalism is caused by many different factors. One of them is the heavy migration to Australia by many different nations and ethnic origins.
A second is intermarriage, which not only combines ethnicities but also religions to a certain extent. Multiculturalism promotes respect for and complete tolerance many different religions and cultures using integrated, structural plans in church, school, organization, and corporate affairs. One of the largest factors for multiculturalism is, of course, religious and cultural tolerance and maintenance of the individual. Individual beliefs and personal choice are crucial to a healthy society, and Australia has taken strong measures to maintain tolerance for these rights and choices.
In fact, Australians consider it part of their national identity to have a “melting pot” of races combined together in harmony. Religious and ethnic tolerance prevents racism, genetic cleansing, religious oppression, and suppression of freedom of expression. (Kerkyasharian) A second reason why multiculturalism is beneficial is that religions and cultures which have been suppressed by their native governments now have free expression after moving to Australia.
What might have been cause for death, fines or other penalties in native societies now have a safe haven to be developed and practiced in public, safeguarded under Federal Australian Law. Now, there are still a couple of reasons to not have standardized and regulated multiculturalism, one of them being a hard hit to economic success. Migrants to Australia enjoy completely equal treatment to that of native Australians, and the benefits from this might result in the prevention of a second class of citizens.
Also, citizens which are part of communities which, in other parts of the world, are being aggressive, might find themselves victims of social discrimination since cultural communities are not as grouped together or well-defined in Australia. A second reason against multiculturalism in Australia is the disintegration of an Australian national identity. So much multi-racial and multi-cultural tolerance and affinity could prevent building of a unique Australian identity. Who are Australians? What is Australia? We need to understand the “land down under” on a more personal level.
Too much emphasis on ethnic diversity can hack away at the history and culture of Australia itself. (Soutphommasane) Australia is a melting pot with specific federal guidelines to facilitate and enable multiculturalism. Taking a look at pros and cons, withholding opinion until all facts are gathered, and looking at current national stresses that arise from multiculturalism can help understanding Australia as a nation. Resources: Chow, Benjamin, Multiculturalism in Australia: Current Issues, Council for Multicultural Australia, accessed on June 5, 2010 at: http://www. acmro. catholic. org. au/docs/one_in_christ/a_benjamin_chow. pdf
Kerkyasharian, Stepan, Multiculturalism in Australia – Today and Tomorrow, Ethnic Affairs Commission of New South Wales address to the 1998 Annual Conference of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, accessed June 5, 2010 at: http://www. crc. nsw. gov. au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/1342/multiculturalism_in_australia. pdf Soutphommasane, Tim, After Cronulla: Debating Australian Multiculturalism and National Identity, Australian Mosaic, Iss. 13, March-April 2006, accessed June 5, 2010 at: http://oxford. academia. edu/TimSoutphommasane/Papers/206/After-Cronulla–Debating-Australian-Multiculturalism-and-National-Identity