What is multiculturalism?

As defined in the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission Act 1980, "multiculturalism" means 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 heritages.

Australia is, and will remain, a culturally diverse society. Multiculturalism as outlined in national and state policies encompasses measures designed to respond to the reality of Australia's cultural diversity as well as policies and programs such as community relations, access and equity, social justice, equal opportunity and anti-racism.

The three dimensions of multicultural policy are:

  • 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 Australians.

Further information:

In March 2017, the Australian Government release a new multicultural statement: Multicultural Australia - united, strong, successful. This is available online in various languages.

What does multiculturalism mean? (PDF 87.2 KB)

What is culture? (PDF 79.6 KB)