Australia is known throughout the world as one of the most successful multicultural societies in modern times. The Australian people pride themselves on the diverse and tolerant society they live and work in.
The success of the multicultural attitudes in Australia is one of the key reasons that Australia has grown to become the world political and economic power that it is today.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of Australia’s immigration some of the benefits its multiculturalism has offered.
Australia’s immigration history
Australia has a long and diverse history with immigration; the country, as it currently stands, was founded by immigrants. That very immigration history is a large part of what makes Australia such as successful as it is as a multicultural society.
Australian immigration history begins in 1788 with the overpopulation of British prisons. In the 80 years that followed, Britain transported more than 150,000 convicts from their prison system to Australia, marking the first immigration steps from Europe and laying the groundwork for the future multicultural attitudes. Upon arrival in their new home, these initial immigrant convicts found the land was not as deserted as they may have originally assumed. The indigenous Aboriginals of the land massively outnumbered the new immigrants to the tune of nearly four to one.
In the years that followed the initial convict immigration from Britain, hundreds of thousands of others decided to follow and start a new life in what would become Australia. These following immigrants were not convicts as had come before but were instead primarily agricultural workers and other low-level domestic staff. While these immigrants hailed from all over Britain, they were mostly from England rather than Scotland or Ireland.
During the mid-19th century, gold was discovered in locations throughout New South Wales and Victoria. The allure of gold attracted new settlers from across the world hoping to make a new for themselves and discover their fortunes in the ground of this new land. Whether they found gold or not, the majority of these fortune seekers stuck around, solidifying Australia’s economic status and national identity.
In more recent history, a significant portion of Australia’s immigration has come from asylum seekers. After the Second World War, nearly half a million people, mostly Europeans, sought asylum in Australia, and the multiculturalism at the core of the Australian way of life was a core factor in that push. The influx of asylum seekers only served to strengthen and reinforce the multicultural society, as hundreds of thousands of new people, from the numerous different cultures and societies in Europe, began to settle. Since the post-Second World War immigration, Australia has become a popular destination for asylum seekers from across the world, for a variety of reasons: war and conflict, social-economical, political affiliation, religion.
The higher education boom
Currently, one of the main types of immigration in Australia is students seeking higher education. Australia has cultivated a world-renowned and highly regarded higher education program that attracts the attention of students from around the world. While these students don’t all stay in Australia after they have completed their studies, although some do, even their presence during the 4 – 8 years while they are studying helps to further develop the overall multicultural attitudes and thinking of the nation.
Harmony is the golden keyword when it comes to forming a multicultural society. It is impossible to mix the wide range of different backgrounds found throughout Australia and have identical values, issues, and lifestyles, so the key area of focus and attention is on working harmoniously with the different peoples and cultures in the country. As a nation, Australia took the promotion of harmony amongst the various cultures and people living within to the next level by dedicating a specific day each year as Harmony Day. This day is generally celebrated by organised events promoting cross-cultural interaction and sharing, with the goal of forming better social bonds and cohesion.
Influx of skills with industry demand
As Australia positions itself in the world as a place for people of any race, religion, culture, or background to live and work in harmony, it also naturally attracts new talent. This draw of living in a successful multicultural society has resulted in Australia being one of the foremost countries for the development and implementation of new technologies. Key issues such as environmental responsibility, waste disposal, and recycling attract top skill-based talent from around the world to Australia making them one of the world-leaders in a wide variety of fields, both from a research perspective and overall everyday job skill. The emphasis elevates and pushes people all across Australia to focus more on skill-based development to keep up with the ever-increasing skill level.
Benefits of multiculturalism
A diverse and multicultural society offers many great benefits, and Australia’s success at multiculturalism is a key factor in why it has a well regarded and strong relationship around the world. When a society consists of mainly one culture and value system, it can easily fall into the echo chamber trap, wherein ideas aren’t fully discussed and expressed. A multicultural society forces differing points of view and ideas to be debated and discussed, helping to shape new thinking and ways of living.
Another benefit of Australia’s multiculturalism is that it enables the nation to form better relationships with other nations on issues of world politics and trade. This place’s Australia in a unique position to negotiate and form treaties and trade deals with other nations around the world, with a better and deeper insight into their values and culture.
Australia’s multicultural society isn’t without its issues and problems. Wherever in the world you have a high number of different peoples and cultures, you are guaranteed to find and face disagreements and conflicts over a wide range of issues. The goal of a successful multicultural society isn’t to be conflict or issue-free. Achieving success is about enabling different peoples and cultures to live and work alongside each other, acknowledging their differences and the problems that come with them, and this is where Australia excels. Australia doesn’t run away from the problems of blending and integrating different cultures, it embraces them allowing for a unique and world-renowned multicultural society.