Ethnic Associations, Networks and the Construction of Australian Multiculturalism
Refereed paper presented at the Canadian Political Science Association Annual Conference, Montreal
19 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 3, 2010
In the last 60 years, Australia has transformed from a country 95 per cent white and 90 per cent British, to country where half the population was born overseas or has at least one parent born overseas, from over 260 countries. This dramatic change in racial and ethnic composition was accompanied by an equally dramatic reversal in community attitudes to immigration and racial and cultural diversity – from 90 per cent opposed in the early 1970s, to 90 per cent in favor in 2009. This paper offers a new explanation for this remarkably quick and harmonious transformation - that it was due to the direct participation of migrant and ethnic groups in shaping Australia’s multicultural policy framework, and their ability to function as a policy community, issue network and cohesive interest group. It is based upon a two-year study of Australia’s oldest federation of migrant, refugee and multicultural groups, the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria. This was the first study of the united ethnic movement in Australia and thus provides a new perspective on Australia’s multicultural history and politics. Primary sources included previously unexplored government, organizational and personal archives, and interviews with key leaders within and beyond the united ethnic movement. Data was qualitatively analyzed, drawing upon network and interest group theory, within a participatory-policy framework.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation