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Creating a Virtuous Society: Immigration and Australia's Policies of Multiculturalism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2000

Paul Baerwald School of Social Work, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt Scopus Campus, Jerusalem, Israel 91905


Australia's post-war programme of mass immigration has been accompanied by growing ethnic and racial diversity. This process of diversification accelerated markedly from the 1970s onwards after the abandonment of the White Australia Policy in the 1960s. Despite this diversification, Australia has been able to sustain itself as a peaceful liberal democracy. It is the contention of this article that Australia's policies of multiculturalism have played an important role in contributing to this state of relative peacefulness. This article seeks to assemble some evidence from the Australian experience to ‘test’ the notion that the peacefulness of Australian society may, in some measure, be understood as a product of the contribution of its policies of multiculturalism to engendering and reinforcing those very virtues which liberal democracies require in order to sustain themselves over time.

Research Article
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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Acknowledgement: The author wishes to acknowledge with sincere thanks the constructive comments made by Dr James Jupp, Director, Centre for Immigration and Multicultural Studies, Australian National University, Canberra on an earlier version of this paper. He also most generously assisted the author in securing copies of a number of the sources cited in this paper. Of course, Dr Jupp bears no responsibility for the final product.