a multicultural Research Library

Making multicultural Australia

Search the complete site: ... Sitemap » ... Links to other sites »

multicultural Audio »

Category: Audio Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »


Mobilising Ethnic Communities

Arthur Faulkner.

Arthur Faulkner speaks his view on ethnic community demands.



Date Added:

26 June 2002


Making Multicultural Australia


mov (Quicktime);

File size:



32 secs


Senior Policy Officer, Victorian Department of Human Services, and former researcher, Centre for Urban Research and Action

My view in the 1970s of when ethnic communities were articulating demands, (was that) the teachers in the Australian system, for example, cottoned onto that fairly quickly. A lot of people in the church accepted that. A lot of people in welfare. It touched a response by all of these people so that certainly the professionals - teachers, welfare workers, the church, those sort of institutions of society - were going with ethnic communities. Academics were tending to move in that direction.


And I guess at the heart of my view is that it hasn’t been changed by individuals or a government. There has been a social change in Australia which tends to have been reflected in government. And what you see is a gradual process marked, I think, by a number of features.

First of all, the fact that in the 1970s - and I think it is important that it was in the 1970s - people began to realise that in fact, we had a multicultural society. They may not have used that term, but used that concept. They did that by just sheer examination of numbers.

By the 1970s, there were large numbers of non-English speaking background migrants. These were largely Italian migrants, Greek, Yugoslav, and numbers of others. So their presence began to be noted.

As well as that, the period of time in which they were in Australia, coming basically just after the (Second World) war and increasing in the 1960s, this meant that by the 1970s you had large numbers of people who had been in Australia for a fairly long period of time. They were increasingly confident of their role in Australian life. They may not have liked the things that had gone on, but they were increasingly confident, strong and articulate.

Australians too, they were initially tentative about non-English speaking background migrants. The Australian community were very ill at ease about Italian and Greek migrants. These were people, southern Europeans who carried knives, did all sorts of funny things. By the 1970s, I think people had a far different appreciation.

First, this was superficial in terms of the food eaten. They’d moved from the friendships they’d built up, appreciation of the culture, to a much greater acceptance.

Because of the large numbers, we had increasing numbers of ethnic clubs, which began as sporting and cultural associations. Later, Australian Greek Welfare and FILEF, and other associations became concerned about welfare in the wider sense and concerned for rights.

Interview for Making Multicultural Australia, 1994.