South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission (SAMEAC)

The South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission is a statutory body whose members are nominated by the Minister for Multicultural Affairs to Cabinet and appointed by the Governor.

Section 12.1 of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission Act, 1980 states that SAMEAC’s primary functions are to:

  • increase awareness and understanding of the ethnic diversity of the South Australian community and the implications of that diversity
  • advise the Government and public authorities on, and assist them in, all matters relating to multiculturalism and ethnic affairs.

The South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission Act, 1980 was assented to on 13 November 1980. It established a Commission comprising one full time member with the combined role of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and seven part-time members. The Commission began operating in June 1981 when Mr Bruno Krumins was appointed the first Chairman and the Ethnic Affairs Branch was transferred into the Commission. The focus of the Act in its original form was on ethnic affairs issues relating to migrant settlement and welfare.

Following a review of the Commission (the Totaro Report) in 1983, the Act was amended to broaden its functions to give the Commission a more active role in advocating the rights of ethnic groups. Furthermore, it strengthened the Commission’s role in influencing Government agencies in the appropriate design and delivery of services that serve the needs of all ethnic groups. The size of the Commission was increased from 8 to 11 Members.

In 1989 amendments to the Act gave a sound legislative base to the Government’s desire to define and broaden the scope of multiculturalism as a public policy and to establish its central importance to the social and economic future of the State. Multiculturalism as a public policy was defined in legislation for the first time in Australia. The 1989 amendments further increased the size of the Commission from 11 up to 15.