10 January 2012

Australian coalition slams multicultural immigration strategy

The Australian opposition has claimed the Gillard government is too preoccupied with "symbolism" for its multicultural strategy to work and is ignoring the majority of immigrants who are struggling to integrate with Australian society.

Australia visa

The Australian opposition claims the government's multicultural aims are failing.

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced in February 2011 that the government would upgrade the Australian Multicultural Council so that it could advise the government on how best to help new migrants and become a "champion for multiculturalism". This announcement also coincided with the government's establishment of a "national anti-racism and partnership strategy".

However, less than one year after this announcement, the Australian opposition has condemned the scheme, with opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison claiming that "a year down the track I don't think anything has changed. The government made some announcements and appoints some committees and published some glossy brochures."

Morrison said "to dress [the anti-racism and partnership strategy] up as anything more than symbolism is disingenuous" and that the parliamentary debate on multiculturalism hadn't gone as expected for the Gillard government.

The opposition's main concern is reportedly that "more than half" of the Australian immigration intake, particularly those on a temporary Australian visa were largely unaddressed.

"We need to deal with how we engage with temporary migrants because they fall completely through all the cracks and I think present a very real threat to social cohesion, if not managed proactively."

He also highlighted the government-funded English language course which is "the most important service the government provides" yet which he claimed is failing to properly teach and help immigrants, especially temporary immigrants successfully integrate into the community.

"English is your ticket to a productive and engaged life in Australia and I would hope the committee would be able to reach agreement on proactive reforms" he concluded.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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