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Geoffrey Brahm Levey

Abstract

In recent years, an international debate has erupted over whether and how interculturalism differs from multiculturalism as a response to cultural diversity. An influential argument in this debate is that multiculturalism itself militates against intercultural dialogue. This article scrutinises this argument and challenge its applicability in the Australian context. I examine two case studies of fraught intercultural dialogue: the 2006 clash between the Howard government and the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria over the proposed introduction of a citizenship test; and the Abbott government’s proposed reform of the anti-vilification provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) during 2013–14. The cases suggest that far from undermining intercultural dialogue, respecting the terms of Australian multiculturalism would help to make it possible. Moreover, the cases suggest that if pursued genuinely, intercultural dialogue could contribute improved policy outcomes.