In the wake of a series of major incidents in which anti-Islamic sentiment has spiked in Australia, there has been a call for a cultural diplomacy approach to address the growing trend.
But as we reported last week, the Federal government has made it clear it has no intention of engaging with community groups in a constructive way, and the National Council for Civil Liberties has slammed the government for its “categorical refusal to engage with any of the groups in Australia who have expressed their concerns.”
So how will the government engage with community voices in a way that minimises its impact?
It has yet to respond to ABC’s request for an interview, but in an interview with The ABC’s AM program, Attorney-General Scott Morrison has indicated he will engage with groups like the Council of Australian Governments (CAG) and the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in order to ensure that “people feel safe and supported”.
The Australian Government’s approach will involve not just engagement with CAG and AHRC, but also with groups such as the Australian Muslim Forum and ACT Human Rights Alliance.
However, the latter two groups are not just concerned about the rising numbers of anti-Muslim incidents, they are also concerned about what they perceive to be the lack of accountability.
The AHRC is currently investigating the use of racial epithets and homophobic slurs by Muslims in the ACT, and has also written to the Australian Federal Police to demand an investigation into the treatment of a woman at a mosque.
It also wants to know what is happening with anti-Islam videos circulating on social media.
The Council of Australians is also seeking answers from the Government about what the Government is doing to address racism, discrimination and Islamophobia in Australia.
“We have an obligation to address these issues, and to act on them,” Mr Morrison said.
“That is the core of what we’re doing, and that is what the communities need to know.”
As the ABC reported last month, Mr Morrison has also called on all Australians to “be the guardians of our nation”.
“We are an open society,” he said.
But it appears the Federal Minister is less interested in tackling these issues than in defending the Government.
He told the ABC he wants the “broadest possible range of people” to participate in the Australian government’s multiculturalism drive, including “those who are opposed to this”.
“The only way we can really move forward is to have as many voices as possible involved, and I think that the best way to do that is to be inclusive,” he told the program.
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