Extract from interview with Edie Hoy Poy,
prominent Australian-born Chinese, active in community work through the
Chung Wah Society.
HOY POY: I personally think
multi-culturalism is a wonderful concept. I endorse that because what
multi-culturalism has done to Australia and especially West Australia,
I don't think anyone can turn round and say that it's been a bad thing.
When you look at multi-culturalism, I can go back 40 years ago, if you
went to dine out all you would have is fish and chips and steak and egg.
Now when you look at present day, especially when you go across to Northbridge,
isn't it wonderful that you can walk down and you can have food from any
country in the world. Now that is only in the food industry but you also
think what it's done in many other aspects of our normal life.
All this has been brought in by migrants from different countries. I think
multiculture into the Australian society, be it from a contribution from
the Chinese, the Italian or Greeks or whatever, I think it's been an asset
to the Australian community. I think if the average Australian was to
admit that, I think that would be wonderful.
A lot of people would probably say, 'well, you know. migrants come in
here and they take our jobs', things like that. What jobs have they taken
because if you take the average Chinese, would anyone go and work in the
kitchen for practically 24 hours a day, cutting up vegetables or cleaning
and what have you. These are jobs that the average person wouldn't take.
And so you have people that are doing these sort of jobs and therefore
it helps the economy of the country.
You look at the number of Chinese restaurants that are in Perth, you've
only got to logistically and look and see the number of Chinese restaurants.
The consumption of produce that they've used - now how many pork dishes
that there are in the restaurants, how many chicken dishes, how many fish?
All that comes from the local community and it's a consumption that I
think the local community can't do without. So when you look at the overall
thing multiculturally it's been a wonderful asset to Australia and to
I think we've all learnt that we can live with one another and we can
appreciate other customs. I think now, especially when I look at the younger
kids growing up I think they have a wonderful future. Their overall picture
of the world will be such a broad one and I think it's an education to
Even our Chung Wah Association now, do you know we have schools embracing
the fact that they would like to learn a bit more. We have groups of school
children coming up to Chung Wah, being given a talk about the Chinese
culture, how to use the chopsticks, how to eat Chinese food and in general.
And the schools appreciate that. We get no end of demands for us to be
able to do this to school children. We have schools from all over Perth
coming. We've even had recently a country school come up and the children
are absolutely enthralled.
I think this then breaks down the racial barrier. And so I have a great
perception of what the future will hold for the younger generation because
they will grow up knowing what multicultural is and appreciating. They
will look beyond the appearance of a person and see what that person is
about because there is something that they have learnt, and I think that
is a wonderful thing for Australia.
Edie Hoy Poy, March 2000
[Battye Library, OH3015]