ADI researcher Dr Amanuel Elias is working on a project reviewing global research on intercultural dialogue’s ability to build peaceful societies, as part of his new appointment as a Research Fellow with the UNESCO Chair, Cultural Diversity and Social Justice, Professor Fethi Mansouri.

The appointment follows a busy year for Dr Elias who last year polarised public debate in Australia with his PhD thesis looking at the economic costs to health of racism.

The research, showed how much racism cost the Australian economy for the first time.  It made the front page of Australia’s national daily newspaper The Australian, was the subject of its editorial and generated radio interviews and talkback.

Dr Elias believes his appointment with the UNESCO Chair team allows him to gain further insight into a finding from his PhD where he was able to identify the overall economic impact of cultural diversity in a society.

“The cultural diversity of a country is of social and economic significance because race relations and economic outcomes are interrelated issues,” he said.

“Racism occurs in countries that have culturally diverse communities, so if we are to eradicate racial discrimination we have to manage our cultural diversity in such a way that communities can understand each other.”

Dr Elias said the project he was working on with the Chair would look at intercultural understanding and sensitivity.

“If societies are multicultural or diverse there is a need for constructive dialogue between different ethnicities and cultural groups,” he said.

“If this leads to understanding then there will be a reduced incidence of racial discrimination.”

Dr Elias said he was looking forward to taking a global view and drawing on global experiences.

“The intercultural dialogue project looks at studies from all over the world,” he said.

“We are looking at how countries have implemented policies, how they have promoted and how they view intercultural dialogue,” he said.

“When I was doing my Masters, I wondered whether I would be able to use my economic skills in social settings.

“I thought I would only be involved in economic variables and have nothing to do with the human aspects.

“It was only when I finished my Masters, and looked at labour market issues affecting migrants, that I understood I could apply my economic skills to diverse social issues.”

Read Dr Elias’ PhD thesis here.

The article ‘Research row: race discrimination more harmful than smoking’ was published in the Australian on the 6th April, 2016