Most Australians think multiculturalism works well, with only occasional problems.
A Galaxy poll of 1000 people run exclusively for News Limited revealed people’s attitudes in the run up to Australia Day to the sometimes divisive issue.
One in 10 said multiculturalism worked very well and made Australia what it is, while just over half said it worked generally quite well, causing only the occasional issue.
One quarter said multiculturalism generally did not work very well and seemed to create more problems than the benefits it brought. Thirteen per cent said it caused lots of cultural issues and problems.
Australian National University immigration expert Dr James Jupp, who worked with the late Jerzy Zubrzycki, the Polish-born sociologist often called the father of Australian multiculturalism, said the result was good news after the damage John Howard did when he abolished the position of minister for multicultural affairs as prime minister.
He said Australians’ growing love of travel had helped open up minds to different cultures. People had always travelled to Bali, but were now expanding their appetites to places like China, Burma, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, Dr Jupp said.
“People are going to and coming from practically every country in Asia, except North Korea, and that’s really very different from 15 years ago,” he said. “And it’s mostly young people.”
Dr Jupp said racist elements existed in the community, but they were a minority.
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister and Acting Multiculturism Minister Chris Bowen said migration had made an enormous contribution to Australia’s culture, economy and social fabric. “Australians are overwhelmingly very tolerant and the majority of Australians appreciate the benefits of our diversity,” she said.
Of Australia’s 22 million people, about 44 per cent were either born overseas or one or both of their parents were born overseas.