National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Dr Susan Thompson
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of NSW

-presenting on behalf of self and Dr Kevin Dunn (Geography, UNSW) and Dr Bronwyn Hanna (FBE, UNSW)

Inter-communal Relations and Local Government in Australia

This paper discusses results from a national survey of Australian local government regarding multicultural policy. The particular focus of this paper is local government involvement in community relations policy. The discussion is set within a context of recent calls for a politics of difference from cultural minorities and from critical multiculturalists. Community relations policy was found to be poorly developed in Australian local government. Community relations interventions by most local governments are limited to festivals and local hallmark events. Many councils are involved in information provision campaigns, aimed at building Anglo-Celtic tolerance of other groups. Very few have formulated anti-racism interventions. Even those councils in areas with
acknowledged inter-ethnic discord have been reticent to involve themselves in inter-communal relations. While some local governments celebrate and respond to the diversity of their citizenry, as many again refuse to recognize that heterogeneity, often constructing minorities as a problematic Other, refusing to recast governance and broaden the local citizenry.

Dr Susan Thompson is a Senior Lecturer in the Planning and Urban Development Program within the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of NSW, Sydney Australia.

Susan teaches social planning, local planning and qualitative research methods. She is particularly interested in developing innovative educational techniques to facilitate students' understanding of difference and diversity in the city. Susan has several research interests including meanings of home for migrant women, multiculturalism and its impact on the city, the implementation of multicultural policy at the local government level and the development of culturally inclusive planning education and practice.

Susan is presenting on behalf of her research colleagues at the University of NSW, Drs Kevin Dunn and Bronwyn Hanna. Together, the team has been examining local government and multicultural policy as part of a large Australian Research Grant.

Presentation Type
30 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops