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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 Western Australia.

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 them.

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]

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