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?
¡ 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)