In a complex modern society there are many issues that need attention - not only during election time. I tend to focus on the "other" issues; that is, those that usually don't get much of a run during adrenalin-charged election campaigns. Issues which are, nevertheless, significant for our quality of life. There is more to our life here, on this Blue Pearl hurtling through space, than securing a job and paying our bills. Anyway, it's something of a consolation that, while refugees arriving by boat are once again a controversial issue, Australia's multiculturalism is a social policy solidly endorsed by all major political parties.
Community broadcasters are a great bunch of mostly volunteers on more than 270 community radio stations around the country (check with the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia CBAA ). Australia's community broadcasting sector is homegrown and the envy of the world. Right now these community broadcasters are listening to signals coming from the big players: how sensitive are our politicians to the needs and potential of this lively media sector? A sector tuned into by about 4.5 million Australians every week. There has been progress in recent years. Community broadcasting is at least on board the train heading towards the digital future. Yet there is always need for more understanding and inclusion of grass-roots community issues in the public policy agenda.
Ethnic community broadcasters are a significant part of community broadcasting around the country. They play an invaluable role in informing and entertaining millions of people in Australia in the languages they are most at ease with. Ethnic broadcasts are a lifeline, especially for recently arrived settlers in Australia. Increasingly, they play a part in the lives of ageing migrant communities. Young people are also seeking time to air their issues of growing up with cultural diversity. The webpage of the NEMBC (The National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council ) makes interesting reading.
Whether there is or isn't (for example in Western Sydney) an ethnic vote, that is not the question. The point is that multiculturalism is here, and here to stay. And needs to be seen as a major part of forging our culturally diverse yet socially cohesive nation. This requires constant effort and understanding throughout the land. Undoubtedly, this volunteer effort will be spured and shored up by continued financial support from the various levels of Government. Including, in particular, the Federal Government.
It's more than a trifle interesting to find out just what detailed policies the various political parties announce in relation to community broadcasting. And I reckon I'll be among the considerably more than handfull of voters who'll use their voting slips as reporting cards and send a clear message to political players of all colours.