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Subject: Cultural Studies »


An Office for Multicultural Affairs

Sev Ozdowski.

Dr Sev Ozdowski speaks about the achievements and failures of the Office of Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs.



Date Added:

18 July 2002


Interview for Making Multicultural Australia, 1996.


mov (Quicktime);

File size:



1min 42sec


Chief Executive, Office of Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs of SA and Former Senior Adviser, Office of Multicultural Affairs

OMA created a coherent system of notions, of ideas, of philosophies which were put together and which were supported by both parties. And I really do believe that it's the major achievement of OMA that cultural diversity was put on the map of Australia...

Possibly the biggest failure is that somehow because of this high profile we got, OMA started to be seen as an agency of alternative national identity - proposing alternative national identity - and as an ideological agency. We were somehow not able to convince some Australians that multiculturalism is simply commonsense, that it's a combination of practical Government policies to ensure openness of our society and efficiency of our society. Quite a number of our critics said that we developed an ethnic business industry, that we were putting some kind of multicultural ideology to replace national identity of Australia and we were not able in a way to effectively combat these things. We lost the debate on it...


(A key) achievement was the reform of the Commonwealth Public Service through Access and Equity. Basically what happened, OMA became responsible for Access and Equity and as a central coordinating agency was able to assist agencies to change their practices so they could better be able to serve a diverse clientele. And I believe that was a major achievement.

It was OMA which developed the term productive diversity and used that term on a national level. And it was OMA which started on a national level to push the notion that migrants are not only a welfare liability to Australia, but on the contrary, that they bring skills, capital and so on and that they are advantaging Australia's economy and Australia's standing in the world. In a way OMA was this central agency which provided additional impetus, and Prime Minister Paul Keating was very keen on this idea and embraced it with two hands.

Interview for Making Multicultural Australia, 1996.