Multiculturalism in Australia: who needs it?

Essay by evanslim April 2005

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John Howard's draft for the proposed preamble to the Constitution during the 1999 referendum for a republic included this line: "The Australian nation is woven together of people from many ancestries and arrivals". Indeed, all the authors of the other drafts sought to include some mention of an Australia made up of people from different cultures and to have that enshrined in the new preamble to the Constitution. On the face of it, this would appear to be evidence for and recognition of a multicultural society. I beg to differ. The term "multiculturalism" is a farce. It hides the fact that a society could never be truly multicultural. A "multicultural" society, as we understand it, is simply one where individuals and their communities have compromised and submitted to the dominant culture. By adapting their way of life to that of the dominant culture, what we have is in fact individuals and communities that have evolved and embraced the "official" culture.

In short, this society fails to be truly multicultural. Having said that, the adaptation to another culture might not be so drastic for some cultures. It could possibly involved learning to speak a new language and getting to understand a new culture. For others however, it could mean abandoning a way of life. What is in place in Australia is not the beginning of a multicultural society, it should simply be called a culturally diverse society. I will go on to show the various problems that a society made up of people from different cultures faces and that the challenges to a truly multicultural society are insurmountable by focusing mainly on the Aboriginal and muslim communities.


Ideological Aspects

The common law system handed down to Australia by the British has proved inadequate in dealing with...