Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson


Minister calls for wide debate on what it means to be a citizen [Audio]

12/04/2000 7:15 AM

Increased community participation among Western Australians and a greater role for the corporate sector in community life are the cornerstones of a landmark discussion paper to be released today.

Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Rob Johnson, who will launch Citizenship: Building A Shared Future at a community forum in Perth, said he hoped all Western Australians would take an active interest in the debate.

Mr Johnson said the initiative represented the first time any State Government had called for a widespread discussion on the role of citizenship.

“The discussion paper really signals a shift away from more traditional views of what it means to be a citizen,” he said.

“It is much more than migrants undergoing the process of naturalisation. It is about the contribution all Western Australians can make to the community we live in.

“It is a shift away from the focus on race or background to what fairness and equality mean for all citizens.”

The discussion paper is available through the Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Interests. Attached to it is a response form that asks individuals and community groups to outline their views on citizenship and make suggestions.

Key aspects of the paper include:
  • the role of schools and young people in citizenship;
  • how volunteer workers can be supported;
  • the ways in which the business sector can take a leading role in community issues;
  • a recognition of the role ethnic communities play in establishing social, cultural and welfare organisations;
  • a whole-of-Government approach to the development and implementation of a citizenship strategy; and -
  • the further development of well-established community networks throughout regional Western Australia.

Mr Johnson said a citizenship strategy, involving the Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Interests and a number of other agencies, would be developed for the State at the end of the consultation process.

“Active citizenship requires participation,” Mr Johnson said.

“We need to engage people in this debate and to support those who are already active citizens.

“An extraordinary number of people already make a major contribution. On an average day, 19 per cent of Australians over 15 years of age do some form of voluntary work.”

Mr Johnson said he hoped more people would get involved and support their community in whatever way possible.

This could take the form of learning about Australia’s democratic system of government, increased involvement in community life and building bridges between individuals and groups across generations, cultures and regions.

Copies of Citizenship: Building A Shared Future are available by phoning the Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Interests on (08) 9426 8690. The closing date for submissions is June 30.

Media contact: Fran Hodge (08) 9481 3244

“Citizenship is much more than migrants becoming naturalised. It’s about the contribution that all Western Australians can make to our community and this discussion paper will enable everyone to have a say in the process.” (277KB/13secs)