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Is Australia an Inclusive Society Essay

Reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2003a, 2003b, as cited in Ashman & Elkins, 2009, p. 7) show 25% of the Australian population is currently made up of migrants from around 200 countries. This fact demonstrates Australia, on the whole, has a tolerant and inclusive society. A society can be identified as a collection of people who live together in a relatively ordered community (Ashman & Elkins, 2009, p. 7). It could be said, Australia has one of the most inclusive societies on the planet; however, this was not always the case.

Net overseas migration has doubled from 146,800 in 2005-6 to 298,900 in 2008-9 (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2011). Migrants born overseas account for a quarter of the total population with 50% having direct links with relatives born overseas. Nearly 2. 5 million Australians speak a language other than English at home (ABS, 2003a, as cited in Ashman & Elkins, 2009, p. 7). These facts show how much multiculturalism is now an intrinsic part of Australian society.

Some traditional migrant countries, such as the UK, still remain dominant in the proportion of people arriving onto Australian shores; however, more recently, a larger percentage of migrants from Asian countries have started to show in census statistics (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [DFAT], 2008). Today migrants can be found in all levels of society and the workforce. Employers are bound by the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 not to exclude any persons on the basis of nationality, race, colour, descent or ethnic origin; however, this was not always the case.

The White Australia Policy (forming the basis of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901) from 1901 to 1973 was introduced primarily to prevent Pacific Islanders from being employed as cheap labour in the vast sugar plantations in the Northern part of the country (DFAT, 2008) . The policy was gradually abolished after the Second World War, but the emphasis on European immigration remained until 1966, when the government allowed the migration of ‘distinguished’ non-Europeans. The last vestiges of the policy were discarded in 1973. From 1901 to the early 1970s, policies towards newcomers were based on assimilation.

The preference for British migrants remained, and all others were expected to shed their existing cultural identities, including their native languages, to promote their rapid absorption into the host population. (DFAT, 2008, p. 2) A lively debate would ensue to decide if Australia could be seen as inclusive during this period of history. Even with the acceptance of Whites there were still racial undertones in the nicknames of migrants from certain countries. Wogs from Italy, Dagos from Spain, Poms from England (origin has not been verified, but several theories remain), to name but a few.

In conclusion with such a large migrant population from so many different countries, Australia has succeeded in becoming an inclusive society. Migrants will continue to arrive onto this big brown land and play a major part in shaping the country in centuries to come. Stereotypes. Collins Cobuild English Dictionary (1995, p. 1635) defines stereotype as an “a fixed general image or set of characteristics that a lot of people believe represent a particular type of person or thing. ” This is a thought that is conceived without actual basis or factual content.

Stereotypes can come in many forms. Commonly it is a belief that may have been subliminally imparted by peers, parents or the media. Stereotyping can cross all groups, genders, races, religions or even animals. It is possible social interaction or experience can lead to stereotyping especially if a negative experience is involved. People may all be guilty in some form of stereotyping, although not in a derogatory sense. Some common examples are, left handed people are creative, Asians are hard workers, blondes have more fun, fat people are jolly.

A negative consequence of stereotyping is what Sanderson (2010, p. 349) calls stereotype threat. Minority group members experience an apprehension that they may behave in a manner that confirms existing cultural stereotypes. Gender stereotypes are one of the most common encountered on a daily basis. The infamous ‘Glass Ceiling’ still exists in many areas of the professional world, restricting valid promotions simply based on gender. This type of concept can be verified by looking at comparative weekly wages of other professionals in a variety of industries.

Most people will generally see female dominated occupations, such as nurse, teacher and secretary as requiring feminine personality traits and physical attributes for success; whereas male dominated occupations such as doctor, lawyer, and business executive are seen to require male personality traits for success (Sanderson, 2010, p. 344). Racism The Cambridge Dictionaries Online (2011) defines racism as “the belief that people’s qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races.

In recent history massive wars, resulting in countless lives lost, have been waged simply over not belonging to the ‘right’ or ‘our’ race. Most people would agree the concept of disliking someone simply because they look different and belong to another race, is pure ignorance. To say that because a person has dark skin that they will respond or behave in a certain manner is again ignorant. For most people it is hard to believe that less than twenty years ago Apartheid was still a reality in South Africa. The word ‘apartheid’ is derived from the Afrikaans language and is directly translated as ‘separateness’ (P. Mason-Jones, pers. comm. , 1998).

Its basis was racial segregation for Blacks, Whites, Coloureds and Indians. The Coloureds in South Africa are from mixed race families, predominately White males procreating with Black females. The Indians were mainly from colonial Indian descent sent to South Africa as slaves. The concept of black South Africans not allowed on the same public bus as Whites is hard to grasp. A greater issue for the Black people during apartheid was the fact they were not allowed to vote and decide on their own future in a land they had lived in for centuries beforehand.

Modern racism can be described as someone’s negative feelings towards an out-group member, which is not based specifically on their group membership (e. g. , race, gender) but rather generalisations of their moral values (Sanderson, 2010, p. 337). This creates the conception that all Black people do not work hard enough and expect handouts and so are discriminated against for that instead of having dark skin. Prejudice The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1982, p. 809) defines Prejudice as a “pre-conceived opinion, bias (against, or in favour of, person or thing). The word itself can be split into two components, pre- before and jud- judging.

Forming an opinion of someone before there is a chance to talk to them or even meet them for the first time is ignorant. Prejudice can come in many forms; however, it is usually associated with negative or hostile feelings about a person or persons simply based on their belonging to a group. Some popular social examples are, people who wear hats while driving are bad drivers, and, older men who have long beards and ride Harley Davidson motorbikes are dangerous.

Similarly, pre-judging all the clean, well dressed and impeccably groomed students to be the most well behaved members of the group would not be substantiated. In the same vein, pre-judging the scruffy un-kempt student to be the most troublesome member of the group could be a terrible mistake for the teacher. Consider this scenario: Stephen Hawking is observed crossing the road at a busy intersection while an individual is travelling in the opposite direction. The individual will have no idea who he is or heard his name mentioned in any context.

Some people may consider sympathy with his plight, some may ignore him completely, some may even offer assistance. Yet how many would come to the conclusion he is one of the greatest minds on the planet? People may be guilty of pre-judging his condition, abilities or even intellect. Educational responses to diversity Under Section 22 of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992, an educational authority is not allowed to discriminate against a person on the grounds of the person’s disability (DD Act, 1992).

Education Queensland developed a statement in response to this section of the Act, called “The Inclusive Education Statement – 2005. ” This statement is now part of 11 pieces of legislation and policies (Education Queensland, 2011). These policies and legislative pieces comprise of Commonwealth and State Acts. The Commonwealth Acts include, Age Discrimination Act 2004, Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Disability Standards for Education 2005, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act 1986, Privacy Act 1988, Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

State legislation includes the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, Child Protection Act 1999, Disability Services Act 2006 and the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006. (Education Queensland, 2011). Education in Australia is a basic human right; however, the learning journey needs to be fair, productive and include everyone regardless of race, gender, cultural background or disability. Inclusive education is a process of responding to the uniqueness of individuals, increasing their sense of participation and achievement in a learning society (Hyde, 2010, p. 11).

Education Queensland (2011) requires their staff to identify processes and procedures in the Inclusive Education Statement – 2005, to achieve learning outcomes and develop skills to work and live productively and respectfully with others from a range of backgrounds, abilities and cultures. This ideology will help to produce accepting, tolerant, co-operative and productive citizens. In the classroom teachers need to address the huge variety of differences in their students. They should be adaptable and flexible to address criteria in curriculum while still following policies and procedures that stem from individual schools up to state level.

Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment are aligned and meet the needs of diverse student groups (EQIS, 2005). A teacher, or any member of an educational facility, can be prosecuted if they harass a student, or future student, who has a disability, about the disability (Disability Discrimination Act 1992 s. 37). A successful teacher is required to have a positive relationship with all of their students, while still following policy and procedure so that they can “build bridges from the knowledge and skills that students bring from their homes and communities to the knowledge and skills they need for success in schooling” (EQIS, 2005, p. ).

Schools are required to provide professional learning opportunities to enhance understanding of the recognition of difference and the factors that contribute to educational disadvantage, especially an appreciation of factors such as: poverty; gender; disability; cultural and linguistic diversity; and sexuality (EQIS, 2005). Such professional development opportunities will allow teachers with many years experience to fully understand the changing environment they now live in. People with a disability have the same human rights as other members of society (Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Part 2, Division 19, s. ).

Teachers must adapt their classroom planning in response to this statement. Simple methods of inclusion on a physical level will include table and chair arrangement, or repositioning of the teacher’s desk to provide easy access if required; however, it is the school’s responsibility to allow wheelchair access to classrooms. Teachers who believe that they are the most important factor in improving student outcomes are more likely to deliver a connected curriculum, with high intellectual quality and high levels of student engagement (EQIS, 2005).

While such policies and statement may seem difficult to implement, the outcome of a successful student who is well versed and ready to stand up in society and enter the workforce should be the driving factor teachers strive for. Personal responses to diversity A teacher’s positive attitude towards their students can have a profound effect on their learning ability. Consideration must be taken into account if the student(s) come from a low socio economic background or disruptive domestic environments. The school community may well be the only positive aspect of their lives.

Students who have this sort of background often require more support and nurturing. A teacher’s positive attitude towards this student may well release their inhibitions and personal defences. Once the teacher has broken down these barriers the student is more likely to participate, be co-operative and be more productive in the classroom. A negative attitude directed at the same student is more likely to sustain the barrier he or she has towards adults, or authority figures in general, and remain disruptive and uncooperative.

An example of this negative attitude is provided by Munro. 2008, p. 99). Ted Brown saw himself as a good literacy teacher. Many of his students made great progress and achieved high-level outcomes. Each year, however, there was a small group of students in the class who did not progress as he expected. Ted noted, “These students do not get involved or stay focused. They just did not seem to be interested. I guess there will always be low achievers. Not everyone can learn to read”. His observations were accurate. In his classes, these children did not get involved or stay focused, were not interested and remained low achievers.

A replacement teacher, Sally Green, taught Ted’s class for a term. She talked with the underachieving readers and noticed that they had rich imagery knowledge of the topics they discussed but often needed time to put their images into words. She helped them practice doing this. Before they began to read a narrative, she had them do this. Sally also had them talk in sentences about the pictures in the narratives and recall vocabulary. The students began to achieve as readers using their existing knowledge to read and to anticipate the ideas in a text.

They learnt to paraphrase and visualise as they read, and to review each paragraph. Ted came back to school from long-service leave and noticed that the small group of students had improved in their reading. Because he did not understand the conditions under which they had improved, he was unable to scaffold their learning. Soon some of the students plateaued in their reading and Ted was sure that this was, again, because of their lack of interest. It can be seen from the above text that Ted simply could not be bothered with the small group of “low achievers”.

He did not provide any inclusive activities; therefore, he was not able to obtain the most out of this group. Sally should have discussed this issue with the Head of Department or Principal during her contracted time. Bringing this issue to their attention may have directed the HOD/Principal to discuss with Ted some alternative teaching options, or offer some personal development in this area. Once the issue had been raised, discussed and acted upon it is reasonable to assume that the students and subsequent “low achievers” would have gained more out of Ted’s classes and develop their learning journey accordingly.

According to Conway (2010, p. 29), beginning teachers will need to make an extra effort because his research found that the majority felt ill-prepared to teach students with ESL, disabilities or from dysfunctional backgrounds. This particular course is highlighting the need for future teachers to recognise, appreciate and implement positive strategies for a variety of students with diverse backgrounds, cultures and abilities.

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