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Multicultural Framework Review – Terms of Reference (draft)


Australia’s multicultural society is a national strength

Australia’s vibrant, modern multicultural society is a national strength. Migration is central to the Australian story. It supports our economic success and drives the increasing diversity of our society. Successive waves of migration have shaped and influenced the development of a rich multicultural society. The blending of histories and cultures has resulted in a unique Australian identity.

Australia is a majority migrant nation and one of the most successful and cohesive multicultural societies in the world. Culturally and linguistically diverse communities are integral members of our vibrant, multicultural society.

  • The 2021 Census highlights Australia’s increasingly diverse make-up. More than half of Australian residents (51.5 per cent) were either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. Over 5.5 million Australians speak a language other than English at home.
  • Australians embrace the growing diversity of Australian society. The Scanlon Foundation Research Institute’s 2022 Mapping Social Cohesion Report points to support for multiculturalism (88%) and a belief that immigrants are good for the economy (87%).

The Review will help ensure a government that works for multicultural Australia

The Australian Government plays a critical role in supporting our inclusive and cohesive multicultural society, and ensuring we continue to enjoy its social and economic benefits. The government is responsible for supporting national efforts to strengthen Australia’s cohesion and leverage the benefits of our multicultural society.

It is timely to consider the existing institutional and policy framework, noting:

  • the nation is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and now is an important opportunity to capture and reflect on the lessons learned from the pandemic on how government supports culturally and linguistically diverse communities in crises
  • immigration will continue to drive increasing diversity across Australian society
  • the institutional settings that support Australia’s multiculturalism haven’t been reviewed in almost a generation
  • the current Multicultural Access and Equity Policy was last updated in 2016.

The Multicultural Framework Review (the Review) will consider the institutional arrangements and policy settings at the Commonwealth level. This will ensure they:

  • advance a multicultural Australia
  • support our cohesive and inclusive multicultural society
  • are fit for purpose in harnessing the talents of all Australians.

The Review will advise the government on what institutional and policy settings can best build Australia’s multiculturalism over the next decade. It will also identify how to better meet the needs of Australia’s increasing diverse society.

Review Panel and Reference Group

The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs will appoint a panel of three eminent Australians. This will include a member of the Australian Multicultural Council to lead the Review. A Reference Group to support the panel will include representation from people with lived experience in or supporting multicultural communities, and other key government and non-government stakeholders.

Draft terms of reference

The Review will assess and make recommendations on the institutional arrangements and policy settings required to advance a multicultural Australia and meet the current and future needs of multicultural Australia at the Commonwealth level.

The Review will consider:

  • the effectiveness of existing federal:
    • legislative and regulatory frameworks
    • policy settings and programs
    • interactions with communities
    • services designed to support multicultural Australia and how these interact with state and local government settings.
  • roles and functions of government and non-government organisations respectively. They will also consider appropriate relationships between them, ensuring effective planning and provision of programs and services to multicultural communities.
  • the effectiveness of current federal diversity, equity and inclusion strategies. This ensures the Australian Public Service workforce reflects multicultural Australia.
  • identifying areas for reform to address any systemic barriers preventing people from multicultural communities from participating in Australian society. This includes second generation plus migrants.

The Review will consult extensively with:

  • key community and other stakeholders
  • experts
  • government agencies
  • members of the public.

It may invite and publish submissions and seek information from any persons or bodies.

The Multicultural Framework Review Reference Group will advise and support the conduct of the Review.

The Review will have regard to, and complement, the findings or proceedings of previous and ongoing reviews or inquiries applicable to this topic. This includes approaches in relevant overseas jurisdictions.

The Review will provide a final report, with recommendations to the Commonwealth Government. They will identify potential areas for reform, action and further exploration. The Review will provide the final report to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, and Multicultural Affairs by the end of December 2023.


The Department of Home Affairs will provide the Secretariat to the Review Panel.

Request for public submissions

We invite members of the public to comment on the Review’s draft Terms of Reference.  Submissions are due by AEDT 5:00pm Sunday 19 March 2023 to multiculturalaffairs@homeaffairs.gov.au.

Please note that feedback is currently sought only on the draft Terms of Reference.  The Review panel will conduct comprehensive public consultations during the review period on the substance of the issues outlined within the Terms of Reference. Further information will be provided on this website when the review period begins.

The Department will consider all feedback provided by submission, however submissions lodged after the closing time will not be considered by the Department.

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