Our Multicultural Society

Contrast the following multicultural view with the nationalist view in ‘Belonging to a “Civilisation”: The Purpose of History’ in the previous part of this chapter.

This is how the NSW Department of Education wanted to portray Australian history by the early 1980s—very differently to the nationalist story, but still a rather rosy one which left out a lot of uncomfortable realities that came with differences:

Throughout its history, Australian Society has always been culturally diverse. Prior to culture contact with Europeans, Aboriginal belief systems, social patterns, exchange systems and local group identity varied considerably from one environment to another.

Likewise, English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish immigrants of the early colonial period varied considerably in terms of geographical origins, social class, religion, folk traditions, education and political outlook.

Since 1788 [the year in which the first British settlement was established in Australia], the cultural diversity of Australia has been expanded. Immigration and the interaction of a wide range of Australian ethnic groups have been instrumental in the development of an Australian multicultural society.

New South Wales Department of Education. 1983. Our Multicultural Society. Sydney: Directorate of Special Programs, NSW Department of Education. p. 53. || WorldCat