The Federal Parliament’s Migration Committee has launched an inquiry into multiculturalism in Australia.
Chair of the Committee, Maria Vamvakinou MP, has welcomed the opportunity for direct feedback from migrant communities, saying Australia is unique in its diversity.
“Some European leaders have suggested that multiculturalism has failed in Europe. The lessons from Europe are important, but multiculturalism in Australia and Australian society is quite different,” Ms Vamvakinou said.
The inquiry will examine the benefits of migration from a social and cultural point of view, Ms Vamvakinou told Neos Kosmos.
“We’ll look at the diasporas in Australia and try and get an understanding of how they are useful to Australia given their relationships in many communities,” she said. “The Greek community is an obvious one that has active ties to Greece.”
The inquiry will look at European, Asian and African diasporas and their benefits on the Australian economy as well as settlement services, and skills shortages that can be addressed by migration.
“We’ll be looking at issues and trying to come up with solutions,” Ms Vamvakinou said. She pointed to the highly educated Iraqi population in her electorate.
“Many have come with PhDs in sciences and maths yet cannot find work”, she said.
University degree recognition and other “hurdles” need to be looked at, she said.
“It is time to look at this ‘M-word’ that’s been maligned in recent time and closely tied into racism,” Ms Vamvakinou said. “We need to do something about it in a methodical and thoughtful way.”
Racial stereotyping stems from misunderstanding but also convenience, Ms Vamvakinou said.
“Scott Morrison and his behaviour and by extension the leaders of the Opposition, racial stereotyping is done deliberately as electorally favourable,” Ms Vamvakinou underscored.
She accused Federal Liberal leaders of having “very short term goals – the ballot box”.
Over six weeks people are encouraged to make submissions. “We really want to know what people have to say. The timing wasn’t deliberate but it’s just turned out to be consistent with what the government is doing on the issue of multiculturalism,” Ms Vamvakinou said.
The Committee wants to hear from individuals, communities, the businesses and service providers.
The deadline for submissions is Friday 8 April.
For information go to: www.aph.gov.au/mig or ring (02) 6277 4560.