Bruce McDougall, Courier and Mail, September 5, 2011
School students are being targeted in a major new push to force acceptance of multiculturalism by “embedding” it in the national curriculum.
Young Australians will be trained in “cultural competency” during classes as part of the Gillard Government’s plan to boost support for multiculturalism and outlaw negative attitudes.
Thousands of teachers have been surveyed about how the policy is working and to uncover racism under special research entitled “Rethinking Multiculturalism/Reassessing Multicultural Education”.
The Government’s multi-pronged plan also involves sending 40 “People of Australia Ambassadors” into the community to spruik the benefits of multiculturalism and a new offensive against racism.
The Gillard Government, responding to 10 recommendations made by the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council, has agreed multiculturalism should be infused in the high school curriculum.
Australian teenagers should “understand and appreciate the value of other cultures”, the Government has decided.
“We will ensure that the development of students’ cultural competency in a globalised world is embedded into our national curriculum.”
Dr Megan Watkins from the University of Western Sydney, who is researching multiculturalism in schools with the NSW Department of Education and Communities, said an aim was to help students become “culturally competent citizens”.
“In particular the complexity of what culture is needs to be better understood,” she said.
Professor Kevin Dunn from the UWS School of Sciences said the research was “not a post riots-type response”.
“There is no really serious alternative to multiculturalism as a means to deal with our cultural diversity,” he said.
“It’s good that the policy has been reconfirmed particularly given that internationally we have had some Western governments making statements against multiculturalism.”
“There is racism, we know it, and that requires a response.”
Research shows about one in 10 Australians have racial supremacist beliefs and about the same number oppose inter-marriage and believe races should be kept separate.
A study by the Scanlon Foundation found about 9 per cent of Australians believed that “ethnic diversity erodes a country’s security”.
In its submission to the federal parliamentary inquiry into multiculturalism, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet says the Government is “working to build a stronger, fairer nation through its social inclusion agenda”.