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Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia



Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia


In 2002, the Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, commissioned the Australian Multicultural Foundation in association with the World Conference on Religion and Peace (Australian chapter) and RMIT and Monash Universities, to conduct a series of consultations with religious, government and community organisations. It is part of a broader study in religion, cultural diversity and social cohesion in contemporary Australia.

The fundamental approach of the project was to place the role and activities of religion and faith communities within the context of the creation of social and moral capital, and to relate them to citizenship in a multicultural democracy built around the four principles of (1) civic duty (2) cultural respect (3) social equity and (4) productive diversity as outlined in the 1999 report of the National Multicultural Advisory Council, Australian Multiculturalism for a New Century: Towards Inclusiveness . However, given the broadness of the brief, it is essentially a mapping exercise.

Research Personnel

The project was conducted by three researchers:

Professor Desmond Cahill , Professor of Intercultural Studies, is head of RMIT’s undergraduate international and cross-cultural programs He has conducted numerous consultancies for the Commonwealth government, especially in immigrant and refugee education and ethnic minority youth. He is Chairperson of the Australian chapter of the World Conference on Religion and Peace.

Professor Gary Bouma , Professor of Sociology, is the associate dean (research) at Monash University’s Faculty of Arts. He is a leading religious sociologist, and is widely published in the area of religion and cultural diversity. He is Deputy Chairperson of the Australian chapter of the World Conference on Religion and Peace.

Mr Hass Dellal OAM has been the Executive Director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation since 1989 (the Foundation is currently chaired by The Hon Sir James Gobbo AC CVO). Hass has extensive experience within Australia and internationally in multicultural affairs. He is currently Special Adviser to the National Police Ethnic Advisory Bureau, a Trustee of the European Multicultural Foundation and a former commissioner of the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Aim and Objectives of the Project

The project aimed to examine the place and function of faith traditions and religious groups in an increasingly multicultural Australia operating in a world that is also increasingly globalised. It aimed to identify current and emerging issues as a basis for policy recommendations to government, and provide a basis for informed debate and concrete action in different sectors of the Australian community. It also indicated areas for further research and exploration.

Aims of the project:

  • to profile the current religious diversity context in Australia within a brief historical framework, and map the extent of inter-faith dialogue and co-operation
  • to examine the current contribution that religious frameworks and religious groups are currently making and can make to the development of the four civic values of civic duty, cultural respect, social equity and productive diversity
  • to identify current and emerging issues, challenges and possibilities regarding the interface of religious groups with Australian society and each other, including areas for further research and exploration
  • to document and analyse recent occurrences of racist and bigoted attacks, both verbal and physical, on faith communities and their members, including post-September 11 th ., and to develop educational material about Islam, the Islamic diaspora and the history, role and contribution of Muslim Australians
  • to suggest policy and program initiatives that foster a healthy, interactive religious diversity and that utilizes religion as an asset and resource for Australia’s social, political and economic well-being in a globalising world
  • to develop material for an information kit to facilitate and encourage dialogue, interaction and co-operation between Australia’s faith communities at local, state and national level
  • to investigate the feasibility of Australian inter-faith bodies and structures to advise the Council for Multicultural Australia and other government and non-government bodies
  • to investigate data sources for the construction of an electronic network for the transmission of information to religious groups at local, regional and national levels.

The Report and research outcomes were launched at 11:00am on Tuesday 21st December 2004 and are available here for downloading.

To download the PDF report titled “Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia” please click here.
Document size:1,350kB (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

To download the PDF resource manual titled “Australian Muslims:  their Beliefs, Practices and Institutions” please click here.
Document size: 1,650kB. (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

To download the PDF multi-faith kit titled “Constructing a Local Multifaith Network” please click here.
Document size: 700kB. (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)