Australian Assimilation

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In his 2006 Australia Day speech, Prime Minister John Howard said, “all Australian’s have the right to express culture, beliefs and participate in National interests” 1. This essay raises the question about whether assimilation will create a tolerant Australia. Or is it a case of how long does a free society have to tolerate the intolerable? Assimilation by definition, is “the acceptance of a minority population into a majority population on the condition that the minority takes on the values and norms of the dominant group”2. It encourages uniformity and harmony. This clearly was not demonstrated on Sunday, December 11, 2005, where “at least 5000 angry people converged on the beach after simmering anger and disputes”3 flared between racial groups. It is difficult to comprehend uniform tolerance by the Australian public with such under-lying racial tensions and misinterpretation of ethnicities.

A person’s educational level is also a factor in culture tolerance. Betts states that two groups stood out from the general trend of anti tolerance: Tertiary educated persons; and immigrant Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds (Betts 1988:84). It can be concluded that a more tolerant Australia would be reached if the citizens were more informed and the immigrants better educated as to the benefits of assimilation.

Various aspects of ethnic culture have been seen as beneficial to society. Families, kinship networks, migrant newspapers, churches, social clubs and community schools, rather than being a barrier to assimilation have acted as a bridge between cultures (Bulbeck 1998:134). But this is deemed harmful by assimilationists. If an ethnic culture is determined to preserve their culture, that is, clinging to inappropriate norms, sex roles, education and employment, it is seen as undermining the cohesion of society and is viewed as detrimental to the interests of the ethnical community (Castles 1989:212).

It has been argued that...
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