Australia, one of the world’s greatest migration nations, is currently experiencing rapid increases in permanent and temporary migration. These new immigrants and sojourners not only become workers, but neighbours and school chums in the suburbs and, increasingly, in regional and rural Australian towns. Over the next decade Australia will face a number of major immigration and immigrant settlement issues. Strategies that increase immigrant attraction and ensure retention will become increasingly important, given the current global competition for scarce skilled and professional migrants. Most Australians live in neighbourhoods of great – and changing – cultural diversity producing the possibility of cosmopolitan, inter-communal dialogue, but also threats of racialised conflict. The nation will have to address the settlement issues of increasing cultural diversity, including troubled relations between some cultural and ethno-religious groups, inter-ethnic youth relations, the incorporation of cultural diversity into media and cultural production, and the building of cultural industries in creative cities that draw on that diversity.

Strong, independent and inter-disciplinary evidence-based research is required to assist policy development in these areas, including housing and urban planning, education, health and social services, racism and local community relations Yet research funding and research infrastructure to support such evidence-based research is severely lacking since the demise of the Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research. There is an urgent need to build the research infrastructure and funding to enable strategic and coordinated research on migration, cultural diversity and community relations.

We thus propose the establishment of a Migration, Cultural Diversity and Community Relations Co-operative Research Centre (CRC). This would bring together government, business and community stakeholders to fund and steer a new Australian Research Council CRC with a program of competitively-funded research grant and research networking activities. The CRC would convene national research conferences, policy workshops, and end-user symposia. The Migration and Cultural Diversity Co-operative Research Centre will also play the critical role of linking the Australian immigration research and policy community into important international migration research networks, such as the International Metropolis and the IMISCOE network. We have provided an list of potential partners below.

Jock Collins, Andrew Jakubowicz (UTS) and Kevin Dunn (UWS)
10 June 2008.

Potential partner organisations:
Government (DIAC, HREOC, relevant Federal and State Government Departments, Community Relations/Multicultural Commissions, state–based Human Rights Commissions; Local Government organisations)
Industry (Institute for Cultural Diversity; SBS; sectors of the economy employing temporary residents; etc).
Research Centres (Institute for Community Engagement and Policy Alternatives (ICEPA) (Victoria); Centre for Multicultural and Community Development (The University of the Sunshine Coast); The McCaughey Centre (The University of Melbourne); Centre for Research on Social Inclusion (Macquarie University); The Prejudice Mob Clearing House (Murdoch University); Centre for Cosmopolitan Civil Societies (University of Technology Sydney); The Centre for Cultural Research (University Western Sydney).