By -Vish Viswanathan
Is Australia truly multicultural? This question is being asked from time to time by many immigrants settling in the lucky country over many years and trying to find a true answer. However, many in the community seem to be not aware that it is purely in their hands to make Australia a truly multicultural nation.
In a simple sense multicultural in Australia is simply a term which describes the cultural and ethnic diversity of contemporary Australia. The Commonwealth Government has identified three dimensions of multicultural policy: cultural identity, social justice and economic or skill efficiency.
However multicultural policies have also limitations; the right to express one’s own culture and beliefs involves a reciprocal responsibility to accept the right of others to express their views and values. Apart from the Federal Government, each of the States have their own multicultural policies and programs.
New South Wales being a predominant State in Australia has been in the forefront to develop and implement multicultural policies over long number of years irrespective of the political leadership. Through the effective implementation of these policies and programs engineered through dedicated organisations like the Community Relations Commission (CRC), NSW has managed many chaleenges to muliticulturism from time to time such as the Cronulla Riots in 2005, the International Student attacks in 2009 and minor incidents of racial vilification.
Multicultural NSW is the new name given to CRC and according to its website “Our vision is for a stronger NSW: social, cultural and economic prosperity through cultural diversity”.
However, as the multicultural fabric of NSW is getting stronger, so are the complex issues having a potential to damage the multicultural objectives. divided communities and radicalisation are emerging as big challenges to the growth of multiculturalism in NSW.
Dr. G. K. Harinath, OAM the eminent medical professional in Sydney and chairman of Cricket NSW was appointed by the Barry O Farrell Government in 2014 as Chairperson of community Relations Commission which became later on as Multicultural NSW. Since his appointment Dr. Harinath has been in the driving seat to steer the dynamic multicultural programs, policies and initiatives in the Premier State. With over 200 communities speaking in 200 dialects, the State of New South Wales is perhaps the most multicultural state in Australia and perhaps Sydney being one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
In his exclusive interview with the Indian Telegraph Dr. Harinath shares his vision and thoughts for achieving a truly multicultural NSW.
IT: What are the current or emerging challenges to be a true multicultural NSW (for example inter– community issues)?
Dr. Harinath: Multiculturism is the soul of the state. Social Harmony and Harmony in action. What we can prevent a disaster happening we can play a major role. Inter community issues if any need to be dealt with by the respective communities in a responsible only. The biggest challenge is change in the thought process from instead of asking not what you can do for me to what I can do to the Government. Unity is strength. Involvement of youth is a challenge.
IT: How effective is the community engagement strategy?
Dr. Harinath: This is a work in progress to keep the Harmony in action.
IT: What are the initiatives are projects for younger generation to actively participate to promote multiculturism in NSW?
Dr. Harinath: This is a very good question. How do we get younger generation or women involved in promoting multicultural objectives? The Board of Multicultural NSW is a true example to involve youth and Women. We have a number of initiatives and projects involving youth and Women.
IT: Community Consultative Committees – any possibility of revival?
Dr. Harinath: We have regional Advisory Councils doing the similar community engagement activities, discussions and identifying plans for the benefit of the community. Through effective Governance our office ensures active community engagement.
IT: How multiculturism is promoted in NSW Govt agencies?
Dr. Harinath: We are constantly in touch with the various Government agencies to work with them and promote multicultural projects and initiatives. The Premier’s Annual Harmony dinner event many of the achievements of various community members are recognised through awards.
IT: Indian community – how they can contribute to multiculturism in NSW?
Dr. Harinath by participating in multicultural initiatives and incorporating multicultural segments in the community festivities and engaging with the Government and Multicultural NSW
IT: Parramasala – how are the plans, funding, outcomes?
Dr. Harinath: Parramasala is looking brighter and better. It takes some time to take shape for projects like Parramasala, multicultural festival. We are hoping at the right time Government will announce funding. Parramasala is not only song and dance but also about arts and cultural festival owned by the community.
IT: How can media support?
Dr. Harinath: The more you promote, in many ways of spreading the word for example on the multicultural march, or a food festival.
IT: On a lighter note what will be your message to Donald Trump, if he becomes President of USA?
Dr. Harinath: on a lighter note; whether he visits Australia or we go there let us meet him as a multicultural troupe to show we Australians are truly multicultural
IT: Any other key message?
Dr. Harinath: please do not lose hope in multiculturalism, we have to work hard, be patience and be sharing with others. Be patient, be good to neighbour, be good to one another
IT: Any Message to the Indian Telegraph?
Dr. Harinath: My special congrats to the team of the Indian Telegraph for its coverage, editorials, and comprehensiveness of the presentation. Wish you continue the same good work.