Australia is a multicultural nation. It has experienced an explosion of diversity that is almost unheard of worldwide; since white colonisation in 1770 the country has taken on waves of European convicts, Irish potato farmers, Chinese gold miners, Afghan cameleers, Eastern European Displaced Persons, Middle Eastern and Vietnamese refugees to name a few. It is a land of optimists – of people who have crossed the seas in search of fortune, safety, political freedom, or a new life.
A growing appreciation for Australia’s cultural heritage has also lead to increasing respect for its Indigenous population.
Australia’s 2011 census revealed that 43.1% of citizens have at least one overseas-born parent. We are an eclectic conglomeration of cultures; in our streets we hear languages from all corners of the Earth, and in our restaurants we taste the flavours of every cuisine. Recent globalisation has only opened Australia’s eyes wider to the possibilities that are created by the amalgamation of civilisations. Economic and political advantages have become apparent as countries are taking advantage of the power of cooperative minds to create solutions and harmony.
Even as wars rage, countries are signing treaties to put an end to them; as people languish in poverty, nations are working together to overcome it. Of course, globalisation doesn’t always have positive outcomes; greed has been known to get the better of rich countries when they prioritise capitalistic revenue over moral soundness. Take, for example, instances where wealthy Western companies have been known to take advantage of low wage thresholds that exist in various third-world countries to generate maximum profits.
However, globalisation (and a good dose of nifty 21st Century media technologies) ensures that the public is able to remain informed of current affairs. Criticism of dodgy practices can be more easily heard than ever before and online petitions now offer a key avenue for support to be rallied for ‘underdog’ causes that would previously not have been circulated outside the country or town.
Citizen journalism now dominates as the most effective way for news to travel, with social media forums such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter allowing people all over the world to access instant news updates. It has also generated an increased interest in other cultures, as people are constantly bombarded samples of exotic and intriguing civilisations that are no longer considered to be out of reach. With a booming tourism industry, people are taking it upon themselves to seek out those experiences for themselves. Travel to any corner of the globe is now within the tangible realms of possibility, and that is causing a universal surge of interest – and an expectation that all people will embrace, and seek out, multiculturalism.
With a greater general awareness of other cultures, we can only expect public attitudes to become more tolerant and appreciative of the strikingly unique cultural features and learning experiences that globalisation offers to us.
O’Shaughnessy M & Stadler J, 2012, ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford