Friday, September 23, 2005

Thinking about Cultural Diversity

Negotiating the complexity of Australia’s cultural diversity is a challenging task. But managing diversity is a task that must be done.

Cultural diversity is the variety of human cultures, social structures, belief systems, and strategies for adapting to situations in different parts of the world.

Over 43 per cent of Australians were born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas, according to the 2001 Census.

“Diversity is present in every aspect of our lives in Australia”, says John Cobb, the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.

“Our workforce and our consumer market reflect this diversity...Our diversity creates a wealth of opportunities for business in local markets”.

Since 1999, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs has commissioned over 90 research papers, toolkits, training resources, and case studies covering a wide range of cultural diversity topics and issues.

The findings of the research projects are shockingly familiar. They highlight a general lack of understanding of Australia’s cultural and linguistic assets by top management.

The research concludes that organisations need to take a diversity management approach which recognizes the implications of cultural diversity for Australia’s future prosperity.

On the whole, effective management of cultural diversity is seen as a good thing.

Stakeholder consultations have highlighted the need for the development of “Diversity Works!” program to encourage the teaching of cultural diversity in schools in order to maximize its benefits for all Australians.

Meanwhile, the resources for teaching and learning about diversity are available free of charge on the Diversity Australia website:

www.diversityaustralia.gov.au
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