THE continued development of South Australia's economy will depend upon its community feeling confident enough to engage with new Asian markets, according to Dr Amrita Malhi, research fellow at the International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding.
Mahli is a keynote speaker at conference convened by The Hawke EU Centre for Mobilities, Migrations and Cultural Transformations, in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Education.
He says the links between cultural understanding, rapport and innovation cannot be underestimated.
"Building intercultural capacity is a great way to drive innovation, because it gives people the skills to work together without being thrown off by cultural difference," Mahli says.
"As South Australia undergoes a transition to future industries and looks for new Asian markets and investment, it will be useful if our community feels at home in Asia, ready to harness the benefits that our own diversity can bring to those business relationships.
"Improved levels of interculturality will also position us to take better advantage of the opportunities now on offer from our neighbours in China, India and south-east Asia - three priority areas for the state."
The conference will also focus on the importance of diversity and acceptance at a time when there are huge movements of populations from different cultural backgrounds around the world, says convener Professor Robert Hattam.
"Australia and many EU countries now face significant challenges as a result of dramatic increases in the flow of people from many different countries," Hattam says.
"The rapidity of this shift in population can cause tensions around ethnic and cultural difference but the better prepared communities are for difference, the better they can adapt.
"There are significant benefits for researchers, teachers and policy makers about learning to live together in increasingly culturally diverse societies."
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