a multicultural History of Australia

Making multicultural Australia

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Commentary on: Queensland’s multicultural turn »

Prof Andrew Jakubowicz.

Text Commentary

Since the early 1990s Queensland governments have become increasingly involved in advancing the benefits of cultural diversity to Queensland. The Department of Ethnic Affairs moved from the Welfare Minister to the Premier, and was reconstituted as a major agency of government in Multicultural Affairs Queensland. Throughout government there are programs, strategies and projects that show what multiculturalism can mean in practice.

Many cities and towns in Queensland now recognise the cultural diversity that energises them – and they have become more public about their commitment. Brisbane City has refocused itself as a multicultural metropolis, while councils from Caboolture to Townsville, from Logan City to Mt Isa, are supporting their local communities to explore, develop and share their cultures. In particular the arts have blossomed with the participation of people from all over the world who have made Queensland their home.

At the same time there is a growing awareness about social problems and unmet needs in communities often affected by poverty, isolation and cultural exclusion. Both government and community organisations are working on these issues, looking for solutions that are sensitive to cultural identity, while empowering people to participate in Australian society. Emerging issues include problems experienced by Muslim communities, communities from Africa, and refugees. These all demand government and society responses that recognise the human rights issues for Queensland as a multicultural society.