A Multicultural Act for Australia

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Ly Ly Lim


Multiculturalism as a public policy framework depends on states identifying cultural differences among their citizens as salient for resource allocation, political participation and human rights. The adoption of multiculturalism as a term and a framework signifies the recognition of a politics of difference within a liberal democratic framework of identities and aspirations. Yet the national government in Australia unlike any other country with espoused policies of multiculturalism has chosen to have neither human rights nor multicultural, legislation. This paper argues that multicultural societies require either or both sets of legislation to ensure both symbolic affirmation and practical implementation. Taking inspirations from international, Australian State and Territory based multicultural and diversity legislations, and modelling on the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Act of 2012, this paper explores what should be included in a national multicultural legislation and how it could pragmatically operationalise in Australia to express multiculturalism’s emancipatory agenda.

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