By Karel van der Toorn

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5 MULTICULTURALISM AND AUSTRALIAN CULTURE It is difficult to precisely define the culture of any nation and it is no easier to define Australian culture. This is because culture is a composite of many ingredients and in any dynamic society is continually evolving. Also, the term ‘culture’ has many meanings. In its broadest sense, culture is often seen as a term that refers to the way of life of a society. In this sense it is the structures and traditions of Australia’s democratic society, the customs and habits, the aspirations and values, and the individual and collective achievements of the Australian people, living within these democratic arrangements, that make up Australian culture.

An April 1997 survey by Newspoll asked if multiculturalism had been good or bad. 78% said it had been good (41% said ‘very good’ and 37% said ‘somewhat good’. 10% said ‘somewhat bad’ and only 6% said ‘very bad’. 3 A VISION FOR AUSTRALIAN MULTICULTURALISM The Council is confident that the great diversity of skills and talents of the Australian people, and the strength of our democratic system and the principles and values that underpin it, will ensure that our culturally diverse community achieves success through all its members working together towards a common vision.

Likewise, Australian democracy requires our loyalty and our commitment to the basic structures and principles of our society. The democratic foundations of our society contain a balance of rights and obligations: the basic structures and principles of Australian democracy make us a free society but our freedom in practice is dependent upon our abiding by our mutual civic obligations; as Australians we have equal rights and equal obligations but, while all Australians have a right to expect equal opportunities, our society does not guarantee equal outcomes; and we owe loyalty to Australia, whose laws, institutions and traditions guarantee our basic human rights.

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Anat-Yahu, Some Other Deities, and the Jews of Elephantine by Karel van der Toorn


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