Symposium: Migration, social inclusion and the multicultural city

Kristine Aquino, University of Technology, Sydney & Jennifer Cheng, Western Sydney University:

As part of 2018 Social Sciences Week, a Migration, Social Inclusion and the Multicultural City symposium was held on 14 September 2018, at Western Sydney University, Parramatta City campus. The one-day event was co-hosted by the Migration, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism Thematic Group of The Australian Sociological Association; the Religion and Society Research Cluster and the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University; and the School of International Studies, Global Studies Program at the University of Technology, Sydney.

The convenors were Kristine Aquino and Jennifer Cheng with assistance provided by John van Kooy and Jora Broerse, postgraduate members of TASA. The symposium brought academics, government and non-government agencies, community practitioners and industry to network and come together for collaborative discussion on how we can build more inclusive cities.

In total, 61 people attended the event with a large representation from the non-academic sector including organisations such as Liverpool City Council, Blacktown City Council, Fairfield City Council, Parramatta City Council, Refugee Talent, Sydney Catholic Schools, White Ribbon Australia, Leep NGO, Centre for Policy Development, UTS Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion, Asylum Seeker Centre Newtown,  Western Sydney Community Forum, LEAD Professional Development Association, Health NSW, Western Sydney Regional Information and Research and Taste Culture Food Tours.

There was also significant attendance from postgraduates with TASA travel bursaries awarded to Jora Broerse (Victoria University), John van Kooy (Monash University), Ivan James (University of Tasmania) and Wing Hsieh (Monash University). In addition, TASA funding enabled the attendance of Associate Professor Farida Fozdar from the University of Western Australia, who gave the Closing Remarks of the day.

Opening Address was given by Professor Kevin Dunn, Dean of School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University. He discussed why the social sciences continue to matter in achieving social inclusion today. The day was then made up of three main sessions, two of which showcased current academic research on the day’s themes of migration, social inclusion and the multicultural city, and the other consisted of a policy, advocacy and community panel.

The first research presentation session was titled ‘Migration, race and class in post-Trump landscapes’ and featured Dr Randa Abdel Fattah, Dr Jacqueline Nelson, Dr Shanthi Robertson and PhD candidates Doug Cronin and Zarlasht Sarwari. This session covered a range of topics related to practices of racism, racial categorisations, ethnic identity construction and anti-racisms in the context of today’s resurgent nationalisms in the mainstream.

The second research presentation session was titled ‘Diversity and place-sharing in the city’ which featured Dr Christina Ho, Dr Kristine Aquino, Associate Professor Ilaria Vanni, Dr Alexandra Crosby, Dr Jennifer Cheng and PhD candidate Charlotte Sefton. This session focused on the micro spheres of neighbourhoods in our cities and how migrants experience and negotiate exclusion in their everyday lives.

The policy, advocacy and community panel featured Lisa Button from the Centre for Policy Development, Nirary Dacho from Refugee Talent, Nickie Flambouras from AFL Multicultural Programs, and Tom Nance from Western Sydney Community Forum. The panellists discussed issues from the front line including the challenges their organisations and sectors faced in the context of rising racisms in the mainstream, how their fields are attempting to innovate and make a difference to immigration policy around refugees and asylum seekers and agendas related to social inclusion and multiculturalism, and how we can better bridge the gaps between policy, advocacy, community and academia. Associate Professor Farida Fozdar facilitated the panel.

The event was a great success with contacts made and networks strengthened between academics and practitioners, the latter in particular expressing their eagerness to engage and participate in next year’s Social Sciences Week events. Snippets from some of the day’s social media tweets can be found here

We thank TASA, Western Sydney University and the University of Technology Sydney for their funding support, our stellar post-graduate MEM representatives John van Kooy and Jora Broerse who provided much assistance in the lead-up and on the day, and all the participants who contributed to the day’s rich discussions.

Image: Policy, Advocacy and Community Panel featuring (from left to right) Nirary Dacho, Refugee Talent; Nickie Flambouras, AFL Multicultural Programs; Tom Nance, Western Sydney Community Forum; Lisa Button, Centre for Policy Development; Associate Professor Farida Fozdar, University of Western Australia

Speakers from the first session (from left to right): Zarlasht Sarwari, Dr Randa Abdel Fattah, Dr Jacqueline Nelson, Dr Shanthi Robertson and session chair Dr Christina Ho.

Professor Kevin Dunn giving the welcoming address

Symposium organisers Dr Kristine Aquino and Dr Jennifer Cheng

Speakers of the second session (from left to right): Charlotte Sefton, Dr Jennifer Cheng, Dr Kristine Aquino, Associate Professor Ilaria Vanni, Dr Alexandra Crosby, Dr Christina Ho, and session chair Dr Shanthi Robertson.

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