Social Cohesion

The Australian population is founded entirely on migration.  Even the Australian Aboriginals migrated here as recently as 60 000 years ago.  While this seems a long time in the context of our current national identity, it is but a blink in terms of the natural history of our land.

At the time of white settlement, it is estimated there were up to three quarters of a million Aboriginal people from as many as five hundred distinct social groups with a diverse range of dialects.  It seems that for nearly as long as there has been human settlement of Australia there has been significant social diversity in its population.

Fast forward to today and we have a population of approximately twenty-four million people with a much more diverse social matrix.  Recent Census data lists approximately three hundred different ancestries.  Just under sixty percent of Australians had both parents born in Australia, while just over thirty percent had both parents born overseas.  Although approximately ninety percent of the population claims a European ancestry, this is in itself a diverse social group.

Overlay our existing demography with an increasingly displaced and mobile global population and associated social and ethnic pressures will continually undermine a stable society within Australia and globally.  This can only be countered with fair and equitable policy treatment of all sectors of our society.

The rise of right wing populist political groups globally and in Australia in recent years citing anti ethnic immigration and citizenship policies is a direct result of growing global population pressure.

Part of the problem that is confusing and confounding popular sentiment around how we, as a nation, manage our population demographics is the real and perceived loss in affluence and opportunity for our nation.  This is not a uniquely Australian problem, but this sense of loss is a breeding ground for racial, ethnic and religious conflict as people naturally look to assign blame for their loss, real or perceived.

Much of the rhetoric used in the current discussion around Australia’s social identity is using the same logic that was used during rise of the Nazi Party in Germany in the nineteen thirties and ultimately lead to the second world war and genocide against the Jewish population and other minority groups under Nazi rule.  There are many other examples of this same thinking and similar ethnic atrocities throughout history.

Australia needs to lead and develop mature and sensible policies to facilitate a stable, tolerant and peaceful society.  Australians need to decide what kind of society they want their children to inherit and set about creating it.

CountryMinded is founded on a strong opposition to any persecution or prejudice toward any people or person based on race, religion, sexuality or ability.  Equally CountryMinded stands against any affirmative bias on the same basis because by definition it implies a lesser consideration to the non-favoured group. 

Anglo Australians have a relatively poor record in terms of social equality in regards to the modern standard and context.  However, as with all institutions, be they state, church or corporation, the social standards continue to evolve and develop with enlightenment and understanding.  Our cultural attitudes to racial diversity, sexuality, gender, physical impairment, etcetera have changed remarkably in the past century in ways most would argue are for the better.

Populist right wing activists and political groups describe sections of the population they see as problematic and a threat to our future and security as if they were homogenous (ie all the same).  They deliberately dehumanise sections of our society by suggesting the individuals within the group are incapable of (individual) reason. 

In truth this is not helped by the establishment of ethnic enclaves that, through a range of means, become exclusive of mainstream Australian culture.  This voluntary exclusivity fuels suspicion and increases ethnic tensions based almost entirely on a lack of genuine understanding. 

Human nature prevails and as one group applies pressure or demonstrates any level of distrust, the opposing reaction is to push back and promulgate further distrust.  The natural reaction is to try and isolate the perceived problem, when in fact this isolation further fuels the problem and leads to rapid escalation.

This problem is increasingly apparent and prevalent in closely populated urban environments, but it exists in regional Australia too. 

Invariably, the conflict and prejudice around race or religion is broken down on an individual basis.  When we stop considering all individuals within an ethnic or social grouping as being homogenous and typical of the stereotype being promoted around that group, we are able to understand and engage with the individual.  This is easier done in small communities, but it is essential that we seek to break down the social barriers to foster integration and acceptance for all minority groups in all settings.

If history has taught us anything, it is that xenophobic and non-inclusive social integration/segregation policies do not result in social cohesion and ultimately fail.  It has been demonstrably so in all cultures for millennia.  The solutions to social cohesion lie in education, understanding and familiarisation. 

At the same time, it is incumbent on those who seek to join our society that they must likewise proactively integrate into our culture and not seek to isolate themselves within it.

As a nation we need to develop and implement policies that break down the social barriers, incumbent and introduced, to foster understanding and integration of people at a personal and societal level.

Prejudice is invariably broken down over generations as young people mix in social and educational environments and it is critical that this mechanism of generational integration to be promoted.

In Australia’s past and at various times populist anti-social sentiment has been channelled against Aboriginals, non-Anglo Europeans, Asians and Muslims.  This has resulted in some appalling public policy being implemented that sought to exclude and or eradicate these minority groups from our society.  These policies failed with significant social cost.  We do not need to repeat these mistakes.

The loudest condemnation from the right wing activists is currently aimed at Muslim people. The condemnation of the entire religion and all of its practitioners appears to be based on extremely literal interpretations of religious texts and the philosophy of a minority of extreme practitioners. 

Islam is not homogenous. 

There are ten schools within the Islamic faith with unique variants on their interpretations of their faith.  Further to this there is constant review and conjecture in relation to establishing the jurisprudence of Islam which is about interpreting the intent of the scripture rather than being bound by the literal interpretation of a document that is approximately 1500 years old. 

(In comparison Christianity has over thirty thousand distinct denominations and draws its spiritual guidance from a scripture that is even older.  The interpretation of the bible is equally diverse in orthodox and literal applications as well as more progressive interpretations of the intent and context.)

At this point it is very important to be clear that Australia is a secular state, albeit founded on Judeo-Christian values. 

“Australian Constitution - Section 116 - Commonwealth not to legislate in respect of religion

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

It is a fundamental right within Australia to practice whatever religion one pleases.  However, there is no provision or acceptance that any religious belief or affiliation permits any person or people to ignore or be exempt from the laws of the state. 

This means that most of the hysteria being promoted around the “Islamic Threat” to Australia, is already curtailed within our existing legal framework.  Furthermore, the increasingly extreme practices by people protesting against Islam in Australia are also clearly defined in our legal structures and should also be prosecuted accordingly. 

There is no justification to implement more draconian laws designed to specifically further curtail the freedom of a specific ethnic or religious group within our society.  To do so would be a retrograde step and erode our values of freedom and a fair go. 

No one citizen has more or less rights than another, irrespective of race, religion, sexuality or ability.  This is the law and a fundamental principle that underpins a stable society.  As previously mentioned this applies to the notion of affirmative bias equally.

Specifically, CountryMinded will promote policies that will:

  • Apply equity in delivery and prosecution of the law in relation to protecting equal rights of individuals, including to practice the religion of their choice in the spirit of section 116 of the Australian Constitution.
  • Enable the prosecution of any and all individuals who would undermine or break any and all laws associated with ethnic or religious tolerance in our society.  This is irrespective of the ethnic or religious background of the perpetrator.
  • Reinforce the absolute need for any and all people to follow the law of the land without exception or exemption.
  • Encourage and incentivise the social and geographical integration and distribution of any and all minorities within all sections of Australian society.
  • Establish a layperson advisory council to provide context and understanding of socio-religious and ethnic issues.
  • Provide incentives to non-ethnically aligned sponsors for new immigrants and asylum seekers to increase the geographical and ideological diversity of placement.
  • Ensures that no one ethnic or religious group receives more or less proportional public consideration than another, either in law or allocation of resources. 
  • Provide a citizenship framework the demonstrates a genuine commitment to Australia.
  • Revokes the tax concession and/or exemption status of any religious, ethnic or charitable institution found to have been, or be, aiding, abetting or engaging in any illegal activity.
  • Ensure any and all religious or ethnic leaders are subject to the same treatment under the law as any other individual in our society.
  • Provide equity in any laws around discrimination so that it is unacceptable to deliberately cause offence by racial, ethnic, sexual or religious slur, but that it is equally unacceptable to pursue a grievance where no such offence was intended regardless of the language.
  • Focus on education and understanding as the primary means to break down and manage ethnic tensions in our society.

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