an inclusive, tolerant society does not happen automatically. In surveying
racist attitudes in NSW, Dunn
(2005) provided data useful to policy-makers in
developing anti-racist strategies. Among the least tolerant regions
were those in Sydney that incorporated diverse populations. Consistent
with studies in other countries (McClelland & Linnander,
2006; Stolle, Soroka & Johnston, 2008) this serves
to underline that proximity to people of other cultures is not enough
to foster tolerance, and can in some circumstances be negative.
Dunn (2005) further highlighted certain contradictions
in existing attitudes as most respondents supported multiculturalism,
yet half believed that social harmony depended on cultural uniformity.
Almost a third of those surveyed supported both multiculturalism and
assimilation. Ongoing intolerance towards Asians, Indigenous Australians
and Jewish people was found as well as persistent and significant,
although not clearly formulated, fears regarding the threat posed
by Islam. Once again, however, contradiction was found when a high
percentage of non-Muslims indicated hypothetical acceptance of a relative
marrying a Muslim.
In summary, NSW, as part of the broader Australian
social fabric, presents as an environment in which people of diverse
backgrounds have the opportunity to flourish. However, constant effort
needs to be made in education and social policy to combat insidious
racism, and improve socially inclusive attitudes and practices.
This leads to the question of how to effectively sustain a culturally
inclusive society. Underpinning research into breaking down prejudice
and stereotypes is Allport’s (1954, in McClelland
& Linnander, 2006; in Pettigrew, 1998; in Pedersen, Walker &
Wise, 2005; in Stolle et al., 2008) intergroup contact
hypothesis that nominated
equal status within the situation
• common goals
• authority support
the four factors necessary to promoting positive interactions between
people of different groups.
this theory and added an essential fifth condition:
contact situation must provide the participants with the opportunity
to become friends” (Pettigrew, 1998,
The importance of action and behaviour is further explored within
an Australian context by Pedersen et al. (2005)
who put forward
• opportunities for dialogue
• combating false beliefs
• personal involvement
• developing empathy
as important for creating positive interaction.
The cultural exchange program fulfils
the criteria of the theories discussed above, which lends weight to
the value of its implementation where feasible. Its benefit to IEC
students is further to be argued for as inclusion in such
a program is likely to have profound effects for newly-arrived students
in understanding their new country.