Multicultural Policy and the Population Crisis: weaving our way between fear and opportunity

SSWAHS Multicultural Health Service and Health Language Service with the NSW Refugee Health Service
“Walking the tightrope to good health”: a conference on Multiculturalism to promote cultural integrity in quality health care. 23 June 2010   Karitane at Carramarr.

What population crisis?

¡  Too many people

§  For the eco-system; energy use; water; urban crowding; traffic

§  Of the “wrong sort”, too old, too young, wrong colour, ethnicity, religion, skill-set

§  In the wrong place: cities not rural and regional

§  Causing conflict; anger and aggression

§  Generating pollution and land degradation

§  Too many non-White babies

What population crisis?

¡  Too few people

§  We’re getting older

§  Fewer workers supporting more retirees

§  Not enough carers either voluntary or paid

§  Not enough skills to do the jobs we need

§  Rural towns becoming shells, with people moving to regional and urban centres

§  Not enough babies being born

§  Not enough “White” babies being born

§  Too much international competition for the “best” immigrants

Multicultural Policy is…

¡  Governments seeing society as being made up of continuing cultural groups based on common origins, values, and practices

¡  How will this “mix” be managed?

§  Permissively?

§  Education?

§  Regulation?

§  Prohibition?

Possible policies

¡  Assimilation: adapting to and adopting majority values, beliefs and practices

¡  Integration: focus on life in majority society while retaining “private world” of heritage practices

¡  Cultural diversity: cultural groups sustained and operate in wide realm of culture including services, education, communication

¡  Separation: parallel (maybe hierarchy) worlds including economic, most politics etc.

Current policy proposals

¡  “The people of Australia” 10 proposals went to Australian Govt in April 2010 asking that:

¡  1. All governments endorse cultural diversity

¡  2. Permanent advisory body

¡  3.Antiracism strategy, national human rights campaign

¡  4. Australian education curriculum include focus on civics and languages

¡  5. Productivity commission should monitor government services

¡  6. Protocols (eg impact criteria on migrants/ cultural groups) on all policy proposals

¡  7. Better resourcing of English, training, settlement services

¡  8. Social Inclusion Agenda to include migrants and refugees

¡  9. Local resources to foster opportunities

¡  10. Encourage “overlapping” social participation.

What we* fear about population?

¡  Overwhelming numbers

¡  Too much “difference”

¡  Alien practices

¡  Personal threat

¡  Destruction of environment

¡  Too many strangers

¡  Collapse of community

¡  Isolation and loneliness

Rise of neo-Fascist organisations

Who are the “we” who fear?

What are the opportunities?

¡  Creative frictions

¡  New skills, experience, knowledge

¡  New communities

¡  Learning to manage diversity for productive and creative outcomes

¡  Channeling social behaviour towards sustainability through energy efficiency, economies of scale, cross-communal collaboration

¡  Drawing on different world views to solve shared problems

Continuing issues: where population meets policy

¡  Cultural maintenance and heritage values

¡  Gender relations

¡  Inter-generational conflict and communication

¡  Faith-based communities: freedom or constraint?

¡  Relations between communities, esp. with Indigenous

¡  Media stereotypes

¡  (from AHRC African Australians social inclusion project)