Skip to main content

Multiculturalism paper - Annexure 2

Annexure 2


Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Clth)

protections outlined in Racial Discrimination Act 1975 are in accordance
with the International Convention of International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) 1969.

Section 9

“It is unlawful for a person to do any act
involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race,
colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of
nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal
footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic,
social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

Section 9(1A)


(a) a person requires another person to comply with a term, condition or
requirement which is not reasonable having regard to the circumstances of the
case; and

(b) the other person does not or cannot comply with the term, condition or
requirement; and

(c) the requirement to comply has the purpose or effect of nullifying or
impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, by
persons of the same race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin as the
other person, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political,
economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”.

Section 20 sets out the following functions for the Human Rights and
Equal Opportunity Commission:

(b) “to promote an understanding and
acceptance of, and compliance with, this Act;

(c) to develop, conduct and
foster research and educational programs and other programs for the purpose of:
(i) combating racial discrimination and prejudices that lead to racial
discrimination; (ii) promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among
racial and ethnic groups; and (iii) propagating the purposes and principles of
the Convention;

(d) to prepare, and to publish in such manner as the
Commission considers appropriate, guidelines for the avoidance of infringements
of Part II or Part IIA; (e) where the Commission considers it appropriate to
do so, with the leave of the court hearing the proceedings and subject to any
conditions imposed by the court, to intervene in proceedings that involve racial
discrimination issues; and

(f) to inquire into, and make determinations
on, matters referred to it by the Minister or the Commissioner”.

Australia: United in

Updating the 1999 New
Agenda for Multicultural Australia: Strategic directions for

“The Commonwealth
Government is committed to ensuring that all Australians have the opportunity to
be active and equal participants in Australian society, free to live their lives
and maintain their cultural traditions. This social equity is enshrined in
Commonwealth, State and Territory

Australian multiculturalism
recognises, accepts, respects and celebrates cultural diversity. It embraces the
heritage of Indigenous Australians, early European settlement, our
Australian-grown customs and those of the diverse range of migrants now coming
to this country.

The freedom of all
Australians to express and share their cultural values is dependent on their
abiding by mutual civic obligations. All Australians are expected to have an
overriding loyalty to Australia and its people, and to respect the basic
structures and principles underwriting our democratic society. These are the
Constitution, Parliamentary democracy, freedom of speech and religion, English
as the
national language, the rule of law,
acceptance and equality.

These civic
obligations reflect the unifying values of Australian Citizenship. Australian
Citizenship involves reciprocal responsibilities and privileges and enables
individuals to become fully contributing members of the Australian community.
Citizenship is a strong unifying force in our diverse multicultural community.
Our commitment to and defence of Australian values of equality, democracy and
freedom unite us in our diverse origins, and enhance the ability of us all to
participate fully in all spheres of Australian

In summary, the Government’s
aim is to build on our success as a culturally diverse, accepting and open
society, united through a shared future, and a commitment to our nation, its
democratic institutions and values, and the rule of law. This vision is
reflected in the four principles that underpin multicultural

Responsibilities of all – all Australians have a civic duty to
support those basic structures and principles of Australian society which
guarantee us our freedom and equality and enable diversity in our society to

Respect for each person – subject to the law, all Australians have the right to express their own
culture and beliefs and have a reciprocal obligation to respect the right of
others to do the same;

Fairness for each
– all Australians are entitled to equality of treatment

opportunity. Social equity allows us all to
contribute to the social, political and economic life of Australia, free from
discrimination, including on the grounds of race, culture, religion, language,
location, gender or place of birth; and

Benefits for
– all
Australians benefit from productive diversity, that is, the significant
cultural, social and economic dividends arising from the diversity of our
population. Diversity works for all

This multicultural policy
provides a framework for maximising the social, cultural and economic benefits
that cultural diversity brings to all Australians. But more than that, it
actively promotes good community relations and social harmony among us

South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission
Act 1980

Multiculturalism is defined in this Act as policies and
practices that recognise and respond to the ethnic diversity of the South
Australian community and have as their primary objects the creation of
conditions under which all groups and members of the community may:

  • live and work together harmoniously;
  • fully and effectively participate in, and employ their skills and talents
    for the benefit of, the economic, social and cultural life of the community;
  • maintain and give expression to their distinctive cultural

“It identifies the three dimensions of
multicultural policy as:

  • cultural identity: the right of all Australians to express and share their
    cultural heritage, including language and religion;
  • social justice: the right of all Australians to equality of treatment and
    opportunity, and the removal of barriers of race, ethnicity, culture, religion,
    language, gender or place of birth;
  • productive diversity: the need to maintain, develop and utilise effectively
    the skills and talents of all

Multicultural Victoria Act 2004

The Act recognizes the diversity of the people of Victoria and classifies
it as a “united community with shared laws, values, aspirations and
responsibilities” in which people have the freedom to “preserve and
express their cultural heritage”. “Article 4(3) defines the core
principles of multiculturalism:

  • an entitlement to mutual respect and understanding regardless of background;
  • a duty on all Victorians to promote and preserve diversity [...] within the
    context of shared laws, values, aspirations and responsibilities;
  • a demonstrated ability of all Victorians to work together to build a
    positive and progressive future
  • a responsibility for all Victorians to abide by the State’s laws and
    respect democratic processes”.

Article 5 stresses that
article 4 does not intend to provide any person with any legal right or
“give rise to any civil cause of action” nor affects in any way the
interpretation of any law in Victoria.



Australian (WA) Charter of Multiculturalism 2004

The background to the Charter explains that the Western Australian
Government has sought to clarify the principles of multiculturalism, amidst
varying definitions and beliefs such as –among others- “the
perception that multiculturalism refers to a policy perspective that relates
specifically and only to people who are perceived to be a of a particular
cultural [...] background” and “the belief by some sections of the
population that cultural uniformity is a necessary prerequisite for societal

The purpose of the Charter is to recognise Western
Australia’s cultural diversity and “difference as a hallmark of
democracy” as well as to retain respect for this diversity whilst
conferring rights and duties on all West Australians. There is an explicit
provision which states that by adopting this Charter Western Australia is
implementing its duties under several international (human rights) instruments,
including the ICERD.

The principles of the Charter are identified as:

  • civic values;
  • fairness;
  • equality; and
  • participation

Various objectives for the Western Australian Government
are listed pursuant to these values, among others, to “encourage a sense
of Australian identity and belonging as citizens, within a multicultural
society” and to “enable the recognition and appreciation of the
diverse cultures and backgrounds from which members of the Western Australian
community are

Relations Commission and Principles of Multiculturalism Act (NSW)

The preamble of the Act recognises and values the different
linguistic, religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds of the people of NSW. It
promotes the notion of rights and responsibilities within a “cohesive and
harmonious multicultural society in which diversity is regarded as a
“strength and an asset” and “individuals share a commitment to

Article 3(1) states that the NSW parliament will
promote the principles of multiculturalism within an Australian legal and
institutional framework. In addition article 3(2) states that the principles of
multiculturalism are based on citizenship. Citizenship is defined not as being
limited to formal Australian citizenship but to the rights and responsibilities
of all people in a multicultural society who have “shared values within a
democratic framework governed by the rule of law” and who have “a
unifying commitment to

Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act
(Victoria) 2006

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities was
introduced to the Victorian Parliament by the Attorney-General in May 2006. The
Charter was passed by Parliament and became law on 25 July 2006. Section 19
relates to cultural rights and states

“(1) All persons with a
particular cultural, religious, racial or linguistic background must not be
denied the right, in community with other persons of

background, to enjoy his or her
culture, to declare and practise his or her religion and to use his or her

(2) Aboriginal persons hold
distinct cultural rights and must not be denied the right, with other members of
their community—

(a) to enjoy their
identity and culture; and

(b) to maintain
and use their language; and

(c) to maintain
their kinship ties; and

(d) to maintain
their distinctive spiritual, material and economic relationship with the land
and waters and other resources with which they have a connection under
traditional laws and


Rights Act (ACT) 2004

The Act explicitly provides protections to
the cultural and religious rights of minorities. Section 27 of the Act states

“Anyone who belongs to an ethnic, religious or linguistic minority must
not be denied the right, with other members of the minority to enjoy his or her
culture, to declare and practice his or her religion, or use his or her

Multicultural Queensland 2004 – Making a world of

The Multicultural Queensland – Making a world of difference policy upholds the following values:

  • “Promoting the economic and cultural benefits of diversity – all
    Queenslanders share the economic and social benefits of cultural diversity.
  • Ensuring access – all Queenslanders have equitable access to programs
    and services regardless of their cultural, linguistic and religious
  • Assisting community development and participation – all Queenslanders
    enjoy equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities to participate in,
    contribute to and benefit from all aspects of life in Queensland.
  • Promoting community relations and cohesion – all Queenslanders share
    responsibility for the continuing development of Queensland as a cohesive and
    fair society”.

The Multicultural Queensland policy aims to foster an inclusive, cohesive and
open society so that everyone is:

  • “given opportunities to share their knowledge;
  • offered a fair go and equitable access to services;
  • able to exercise their civil rights and responsibilities; and
  • protected from

Territory’s Multicultural Policy – Building on the Territory’s

“The Northern Territory Multicultural Policy is
based on four key principles:

  1. valuing diversity;
  2. fair access;
  3. encouraging participation; and
  4. mutual respect”.

The Policy is a key aspect of the
Government’s broader community engagement strategies and policy

Multicultural Policy

“The Tasmanian Multicultural Policy is
linked to Tasmania Together – the Government’s 20 year
social, environmental and economic plan. It supports the achievement of the
Tasmania Together goals and benchmarks, in particular it:

  • ensures all Tasmanians have a reasonable standard of living with regard to
    food, shelter, transport, justice, education, communications, health and
    community services;
  • recognises, encourage and value the many contributions that volunteers and
    unpaid workers can - and do - make to their community;
  • fosters an inclusive society that acknowledges and respects our
    multicultural heritage, values diversity, and treats everyone with compassion
    and respect
  • increases job and meaningful work opportunities in

“The Multicultural Policy has four
interlinked objectives:

  • to increase the share of migrants coming to Tasmania;
  • to improve the retention rate of migrants once they have arrived in
    Tasmania; and
  • to improve understanding of the value and benefits of multiculturalism
    throughout the