Sunday, 26 February 2012

Why Multiculturalism Works in Australia

Several months ago, I read the report Selection, Migration and Integration: Why Multiculturalism Works in Australia (and fails in Europe) written by Marc Hartwich and published on the Australian Policy Online website. He compares Australia with the UK and Germany and claims that it is not any other policy towards migrants - such as education or integration - but the very policy of selection that makes AU newcomers so successful.

Skilled selection is therefore a prerequisite for skilled multiculturalism as opposed to multiculturalism - a concept used in abstract ways. I am not sure this figured in the report but multiculturalism in Australia as well as in Canada is supported by laws -  there are legal dimensions attached, which is certainly not the case in Europe.

While Europeans normally understand multiculturalism as the co-existence of many cultures, in Australia and Canada (whether or not people are acquainted with the laws), there are obligations in additions to the freedoms and celebrations of cultural diversity. There are two basic pillars. Quite opposite to what one might imagine, the policy of multiculturalism does not force people to identify with one group or another but leaves them the freedom of belonging. The second important thing is that migrants cannot be different from others when laws are concerned - rather, the latter should be observed by all citizens, even when they are in contradiction with one's cultural values, beliefs and interpretations. 

Maybe the difference between the multiculturalism in continental Europe and in the English-speaking countries is marked by something other than being able to implement a good selection policy. It is the stability of the legal and justice system coupled with the culture of individualism.

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