To capture what was believed to be the ethnic vote, both sides of politics once offered very expensive policies – a parallel migrant settlement service operated by settled ethnic communities; and a multicultural policy which involved these communities telling one another, and anyone else who cared, how to relate to one another. This exercise in ethnic empowerment achieved nothing more than had been achieved by mainstreaming. Mainstreaming refers to each official agency providing its services in a language-sensitive manner.
Strangely, it was about 25 years after the initial entry of non-English speaking Europeans that the claim was made that the national settlement service was inadequate. Two matters come to my mind. At a gathering chaired by me in the early 1980s, immigrants who had settled in successfully criticised the new policy; why is it needed now, they challenged. In the mid-1990s, two outstanding ethnic community leaders stated publicly that 10 years should have been the lifetime of the new policy. In the meantime, millions had been spent; I had been given responsibility for accounting for much of that money.
As for the term multicultural, it merely describes a multi-ethnic polity, the ethnic diversity of the nation. Multicultural policy is unnecessary, unless ethnic empowerment is intended. We, the multicultural mix, mix freely, dress alike, behave alike, pray to the one and only Creator, pay our taxes, protect our families, and serve civil society; while some live on welfare or rip off others. It is not government policy which led us immigrants (not all of us being ethnics) to relate to one another peaceably. As governments subsequently indicated, it is a shared citizenship which eventually bonds us, not by being within a salad of ethno-cultural identities.
From a lifetime of careful observation, I conclude that there is an innate tendency for many of us to reach out to one another, especially migrant to migrant. Most importantly, I have observed little children in migrant hostel childcare, from 3 continents, with no shared language, playing together and sharing toys, and somehow communicating with one another. Is not there something in human nature which guides us thus?
Read ‘Destiny Will Out’ to see how much the Australian government had done to settle immigrants; and ‘The Dance of Destiny’ for some discussion about broader issues. ‘The Karma of Culture’ highlights migrant adaptation, and ‘the Footprints of Unity’ leads to broader issues such as national identity and the hope of a Family of Man. ‘Musings at Death’s Door’ seeks to place mankind in the Cosmos.