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The later 1960s and early 1970s was a period of significant change in official attitudes towards immigration and the absorption of migrant groups coming into Australia. This period marked the end of the White Australia policy and, by 1973, new regulations to permit entry based on skills only, regardless of country or race of origin. It also saw a change away from previous policies of assimilation and integration, whereby immigrant groups were expected to become part of the ‘host’ society, though without losing their identity, to a policy of ‘multiculturalism’.

The new multiculturalism (Dept. of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs – DIMA – 2003):

... recognises and celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity. It accepts and respects the right of all Australians to express and share their individual cultural heritage within an overriding commitment to Australia and the basic structures and values of Australian democracy.

Among a range of strategies, policies and programs developed to serve these ends, DIMA refers specifically to the promotion of ‘social harmony among the different cultural groups in our society’.

It is the relationship between multiculturalism as a policy issue and social harmony among different cultural groups, specifically that of avoiding spatial (and implicitly social) segregation, hence pluralism, that most concerns social scientists and commentators.

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