Research: the process of identifying questions, clarifying evidence, reaching conclusions
A shattered landscape: shared realisation in 1980s and early 1990s that knowledge was crucial to addressing social issues was erased by systematic government action after 1996 designed to destroy capacity of society to debate issues on the evidence:
Closure of Bureau of Immigration Multicultural and Population Research 1996/7 ends regular national conferences and support for wide-ranging research
Freezing access to Eureka research on Australian attitudes to cultural diversity removes critical knowledge from public debate 1998: produces uncritical program of Living in Harmony rather than addressing racism. Reports released under FoI 2011/12.
Opposition waste watch committee attacks humanities and social science research, pledges to remove funding from ARC 2013.
Where is research now?: Research on issues of immigration, settlement, racism and community relations
Australian Multicultural Advisory Council: identified need for research development 2010 – nothing happened
Australian Multicultural Council: ALP government stated AMC would oversight development of national research agenda – nothing has happened
Joint Parliamentary Inquiry into Migration and Multiculturalism: Recommended major initiatives on research 2013 – Opposition agreed in principle but reserved position subject to funding – nothing has happened
Access and Equity Inquiry: 2012 That the Australian Government consider adequacy of current provision for research, including national research priorities, on the practical outcomes of the migration program. This assessment should particularly include research on interactions between the Australian Government and Access and Equity target groups and interactions with temporary entrants.
Immigration Department research publications: primarily program focussed though increasingly in recent years more broadly spread as governments slowly learn value of social research such as Current and Emerging Drivers for Social Cohesion Division and Conflict. Potentially subject to Government control as Minister approves release. Now split between two portfolios, and possibly due for pruning.
University research centres and programs: eg CCS:UTS, UWS, Macquarie, Deakin, Monash/Scanlon (also Prejudice Mob) struggling under limited resources facing an uncertain future as ARC comes under attack
Shaping a Strategy
National research network:
• coordinating hub with many associated nodes building communication between academic, community, government and private organisations
• use of social media and building of accessible research data bases (see MAIS and AUSSA)
• annual conferences to bring policy people, researchers, and NGOs together
• undertake research audit to develop broader national research framework reflecting approach in Canada and Europe
Government acceptance of Parliamentary Report framework to move forward
7.31 The Committee recommends increased collection, by the Australian Government, of accurate and up-to-date disaggregated data in order to identify trends in migration and multiculturalism, and to measure and address CALD related disadvantage.
7.32 The Committee recommends the establishment of a government funded, independent collaborative institute for excellence in research into multicultural affairs with functions similar to that of the former Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research.
The institute should have a statutory framework articulating key principles of multiculturalism, functions in research and advice to government, and a cross sectoral independent board.
This institute should actively engage with local communities, private business and non-government organisations and provide data for better informed policy.
The qualitative and quantitative research capabilities of the institute must enable up-to-date and easily accessible data and research analysis on social and multicultural trends.
More dedicated research into long-term migration trends occurring within Australia and the social effects of migration—such as the local impacts of migration on cultural diversity and social inclusion within Australian society—should be supported.
The Committee particularly recommends an increased emphasis on qualitative data collection.
Promotion of public debate about Australia’s people based on evidence rather than prejudice
I would like to hear back from people interested in advancing a collaborative research agenda about the future of Australia’s people :