‘Diversity is a reality in Australia’!

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I was a member of the panel to discuss a major research presentation, conducted by Pollinate Group (CEO Howard Parry-Husbands) on behalf of SBS, as part of Vivid Sydney programme on Wednesday, 28th May, 2014, at Museum of Contemporary Arts (MCA).

Other panellists were Prof Ian Buchanan, University of Wollongong and Dr Eman Sharobeem, Immigrant Women’s Health Service and Human Rights Campaigner.

It was attended by more than 150 key people from various segments including opinion leaders, media and businesses. SBS Managing Director, Micheal Ebeid, was there too. Ricardo Goncalves, SBS News Presenter was the MC.

The key points of the research were:

  • The representative sample had fair distribution of age, gender, location, income and language spoken at home.
  • Australians recognise the key Australian traits of Optimism & positivity, Give it a go, Fair Go, Can do, Easy connections, Expressive nature with not much deferential language.
  • Australians believe in seeing good side of things, rather than dwelling too much on what went wrong or whinging.
  • They are concerned about immigrants coming in and not buying into our way of life, threat to work life balance and threat around shrinking space in the neighbourhood.
  • They recognise that identity of Australia has changed significantly over the last 20 years.
  • Australian identity has shifted towards a more complex, progressive and cosmopolitan identity.
  • Peoples current behaviour follows more individual path, being more active and seeking new experiences.
  • Australians are seeking meaningful connections on shared passions and interests.
  • There is a steep rise in materialism accompanied by more creative, open-minded mindset, but also some increase in being social. This follows the pervasive consumer model with a shift to things rather than people, from relationship values (‘us’) to individual traits (‘I’).
  • Australia becoming more diverse and yet more conservative because immigrants bring conservative values.
  • Those closest i.e family and close friends are the most trusted.
  • People are certain of one thing: the future will be even more multicultural.
  • Australians are divided on their views of future prosperity: over a third think their lives will improve and over a quarter think it will deteriorate.
  • Australians are most concerned about economic cost of living and housing, deterioration of healthcare and job/employment security.
  • Australians are also concerned about quality of Government/politicians.
  • Most Australians believe immigrants should adopt our values and also agree that we are all immigrants.
  • The overall theme is that Australia is a young nation of immigrants with a great lifestyle who should all adopt the same values and traditions.
  • Recent immigrants often bring more conservative values with them and may in fact reinforce a more conservative mindset.
  • People of non-English background have higher perceptions of arts and culture and have higher beliefs on “Can do/Lucky country/Land of opportunity” values of Australia.
  • There appear to be 3 views of Australia: Cosmopolitan (embrace change and see opportunity), Open-minded ( Open to change as long as it does not conflict with my values) and Conservatives (reject change and react to changes as a threat).
  • A more multicultural future is viewed with either “horror” or “wonder” depending on whether you fear diversity or welcome it.
  • ABC and SBS have the highest trust and credibility from the media, followed by Seven and Nine.
  • Diversity in programming is highest in SBS. ABC and others are far lower in this regard.

With approximately 25% Australians born overseas and approximately 50% of Australians having at least one parent born overseas, diversity is something which is undeniable and not invisible.

Despite this, diversity is however not visible in Media, debates on policies, views, marketing and advertising. This is neither smart nor right.

It is about time that this sad, regressive and disappointing reality in Australia is addressed effectively. Media houses like Fairfax, News Corps, ABC, Chanel 7, Chanel 9, Chanel 10 and Radio stations should review this and act positively.

Diversity is not a dirty word. It is existing in Australian population, and is needed and in fact overdue in many spheres of Australia including Media and politics.

Advertisers can not only be the harbingers of change but will also do a great favour to them if they stop ignoring this significant segment of our society when allocating money for marketing and advertisement.

After all, multicultural community is neither invisible nor stays away from spending money and buying (consuming) things.

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