As a Director of the Institute for Cultural Diversty, I am interested in the scope of the social questions which research needs to address.

1. A new agenda for Australian cultural diversity must engage groups of Australians that, for various reasons, felt peripheral or marginalised in the old Multicultural agenda – in particular, Indigenous Australians and Anglo-Australians. Research around Cultural Diversity must engage the various participants in ways that give all a stake in the process.

2. In the current proliferation of multifaith dialogues which surround the question of Islam in the West, many Australians who have a cultural rather than religious identification as Moslems, Jews, Buddhists, Christians etc) feel left out of the discusssions dominated by imams, reverends, monks and rabbis. How do we open a space and give a voice to those whose engagement may be secular and cultural, rather than religious?

3. Media and cultural diversity as identified by Dreher and McLean is a key issue for the agenda. Could this be extended to include literature in a broader sense as a bridge to understanding and engaging with different worlds. If you can’t hear the voice of another culture how can you understand it?

SPORT/PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

The HREOC report What’s the Score: A Survey of Cultural Diversity and Racism in Australian Sport (2007) indicated that people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are much less likely than other Australians to engage in organised sport or to be physically active on a regular basis. The report cited issues constraining CALD participation, such as feelings of ‘not belonging’ in dominant sports in Australia (i.e. cricket and rugby). http://www.humanrights.gov.au/blog/2007/10/whats-score.html

There have been some important initiatives – post-Cronulla – in surf lifesaving, where the involvement of individuals from CALD backgrounds has improved considerably. http://www.surflifesaving.com.au/SurfLife_CMS/Clubs/OTSW/

Some of the larger professional sport bodies, such as the Australian Football League, have for several years championed anti-vilification policies and been proactive in terms of broader community engagement by committing resources and staff to indigenous and multicultural involvement in Australian football. For examples, see: http://www.afl.com.au/Development/Multicultural/tabid/10286/default.aspx http://www.aflsportsready.com.au/programs/page.asp?id=11

The Rudd Labor government has just released a policy agenda for sport under the title of Australian Sport: emerging challenges, new directions. Disappointingly, this document does not make any reference to cultural diversity, ethnicity, migrants, multiculturalism, etc. There is discussion of indigenous needs and priorities, but nothing about how sport might better engage people from CALD backgrounds. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/sport-australian-sport

CIVIC RITUAL

(to come)

Multicultural education: education in and for a culturally diverse society requires national attention. Key research questions are: identifying and defining the range of issues regarding values, competencies and world views; the role of the school community in ensuring students’ capacity to operate in a culturally diverse society, and the effect of privatised schooling; the role of language pluralism as the basis for cross-cultural communication confidence.

Cultural diversity and the arts: the creative cities/creative nation/ economic development nexus is becoming increasingly apparent. As nations compete for high quality/ value adding immigrants, the quality of cultural life and the capacity of cities and regions to offer deep cultural support and creativity will become an increasingly improtant part of their “pull”, their attraction for potential immigrants. Australia has a very poorly developed sense of this important role and national arts policy barely notices its implications. An arts research agenda that documents the issues and the potential strategies for building a more creative culturally complex society is now of major importance.

The role of DIAC’s Multicultural Affairs as a driver in partnerships with Education and the Arts is central in building such a set of research agendas.