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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 90

(Question No. 309)


Senator Elstob asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 20 May 1985:

(1) Is the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs aware of recent surveys which have highlighted the attitudes of young people, in particular, their negative attitudes on the Australian immigration program and the effects it has by reducing their employment opportunities.

(2) Can the Minister indicate if any of the school educational materials developed by the Human Rights Commission have referred to or explained the facts of the issue referred to in (1) above; if not, would the Minister consider addressing the link between community relations and unemployment.


Senator Grimes —The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Yes.

(2) I am advised that none of the current educational materials developed by the Human Rights Commission directly refers to or explains the issue of Australia's immigration program and its effect on employment opportunities for young people. However, the Commission's manual for teachers ``Teaching for Human Rights; activities for schools'' raises the issue of unemployment in a very open-ended way (p. 98) and any link to the immigration program could well be canvassed in discussions. The manual also has a section on Non-Discrimination-Racism under which attitudes to the effect of immigration on employment opportunities might readily become a subject for analysis. This is particularly so as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which the Human Rights Commission promotes, includes the right to work among aspects of Article 5.

I understand that the teachers manual will be re-written shortly at which time more attention will be paid to immigration and employment and related attitudes. The Commission is also preparing an anti-racism handbook, designed for community relations work more generally, which will refer to the debate about immigration and unemployment, and highlight the need for better socio-economic and political explanations for what some Australians see as a link between the two.

My Department conducts and is expanding a community awareness program which focuses on explaining the level and composition of migrant and refugee intakes and the social and economic implications of these intakes. One of the aims of the program is to foster among young people positive attitudes towards the multicultural nature of our society. Resource materials for schools are developed as a part of this program.

The Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs, which is located in my portfolio, also plays an important role in developing community awareness of the diverse cultures in Australia and promoting tolerance, understanding and a society which is just and equitable. A recent initiative was the preparation, in conjunction with the Victorian Department of Education, of an educational display of materials to further awareness among primary and post-primary students of the different peoples who make up Australian society. The display has been exhibited throughout Victoria and plans are being made to take the project to other States in 1986.