Over the past decade the quality of knowledge about cultural diversity has declined dramatically. With the closure of the Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural, and Population Research as one of the first acts of the Coalition government, the evidence base on which cultural diversity policies were based has shrunk year after year. Except for a study of attitudes to race and cultural diversity commissioned by the government in 1997, no major study of the cultural dimensions of population change were initiated by government. Indeed even the report of that research, secreted by the government in 1998 as too inflammatory to be released, has continued to be suppressed.

While there has been very good research by independent researchers it has been sporadic and dependent on the drive of individual research groups or the partnerships with agencies with a specific interest in the outcomes of the research (such as SBS) or occasionally the Department of Immigration in its various guises. There has been no overarching national research agenda and no strategic relationship between research and policy. Compared with societies with similar demographic, cultural, political and social issues such as Canada, the UK or New Zealand, public policy debates in Australia are often instructed by nothing more than prejudice and anecdote.

Recent research initiatives, some funded through the Australian Research Council, have provided insight into the dynamics of communities, the interface between cultural groups, and the attitudinal and value changes that are influencing popular awareness. Links on this page point to some of this research and the groups and researchers that lead it.

A joint initiative of the Centre for Cosmopolitan Civil Societies and the Institute for Cultural Diversity, the creation of this blog and associated activities aims to facilitate a national research agenda and a network of researchers who wish to contribute to the conversation.

The first event in the process is a workshop on identifying key issues for the agenda. Participation is by invitation or on your approved request, and you will need a wordpress account to initiate blog entries (and contribute your own proposals) and a password to access the posts. The password is available from the CCS office (ccs@uts.edu.au).

Mr Laurie Ferguson, Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, will join the meeting.

DATE Friday 30 May

TIME 10 AM – 1PM

PLACE University of Technology Sydney room CB10.02.320

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