Second Diversity Matters Forum

The Second Diversity Matters Forum, designed to develop and implement pragmatic approaches towards promoting social cohesion in Commonwealth countries, took place in London in 2003.

Held on March 17 and 18, the forum aimed to further develop themes from the first ever Diversity Matters Forum held in Brisbane in 2001.

The first forum was a bi-partisan approach between the Commonwealth Institute and the Australian Multicultural Foundation and was designed to run alongside CHOGM. Due to CHOGM's postponement, the forum was run as a project in its own right and successfully concluded with the development of a number of resolutions and projects to be undertaken.

This second forum was co-hosted by the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit and the Australian Multicultural Foundation and supported by the Commonwealth Foundation, London Development Agency and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office London.

It was designed to further develop themes initiated by participants from the first forum. The program ran over two days and was divided into segments that included plenary addresses by expert presenters in the area of diversity.

This was followed by group discussions and time for questions from participants. In addition four concurrent workshops addressed the themes raised in the plenary addresses with a view to developing resolutions.

The second day of the forum was designed to showcase examples of how to make multicultural communities work, including examples from Mauritius, Malaysia, Australia, the UK, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The forum concluded with the preparation of an action plan for diversity including the following key recommendations and actions:

  1. The Statement of Principles from the Brisbane Diversity Matters Conference be endorsed by Commonwealth Ministers.
    These Principles can best be summarised in the following way: the obligation of all to have an overriding commitment to the host country; the acceptance by all of common norms and values and of basic structures; cultural respect and the acceptance by all of the right of each to express his or her own cultural or religious heritage; the removal of all barriers of discrimination and equal access to all opportunities; and, the need to maintain, develop and utilise effectively the skills and talents of all regardless of their background. It should also be recognised that these Principles must take into account the special position of Indigenous peoples.

    Action
    The Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit, Australian Multicultural Foundation and the Commonwealth Foundation to action this.
  2. The Second Diversity Matters Conference Report and Recommendations to be presented to the Commonwealth Summit, Nigeria 2003, and to the Commonwealth Education Ministers' Conference.

    Action
    The Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit, Australian Multicultural Foundation and the Commonwealth Foundation to action this.
  3. The Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit research typology of communal conflict in different areas, varied responses and success and failures of measures.

    Action
    The Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit offered to undertake such research, subject to funding being made available.
  4. Encourage the Commonwealth to initiate a study to identify multi-faith initiatives with the overall view of setting up a Commonwealth Multi-faith Advisory. The Commonwealth to use existing NGOs with previous experience and knowledge in the area.

    Action
    The Australian Multicultural Foundation, subject to funding being made available, agreed to coordinate a gathering of all relevant institutions and NGOs within the Commonwealth to further the Recommendations.

For a copy of the Second Diversity Matters Forum Report, download '2nd_Diversity_Matters_Conf' (1mb). (Click here to install Adobe Acrobat Reader).

This report is also available without picture content for slower downloads: '2nd_Diversity_Matrs_no_pics.pdf' (172kb).