In the fiftieth anniversary year of the Whitlam government’s election victory, the legacies of its groundbreaking multicultural policies are still being felt – in courtrooms and boardrooms, in classrooms and living rooms. This final instalment in our series of intergenerational exchanges – a collaboration between Griffith Review and the Whitlam Institute – brings together cook, writer and television presenter Adam Liaw and Emeritus Professor of Sociology Andrew Jakubowicz to explore the many ways Whitlam helped us reimagine Australia.
ADAM LIAW: My parents were both medical doctors, so we were able to get access to Australia for the purpose of skilled migration relatively easily. The reason they wanted to come was to look for greater opportunities, primarily for me and my brother – my sister wasn’t around at that point. So we came to Australia [in 1981] primarily for that purpose…from Malaysia, a relatively poor country, and neither of my parents had ever worked. My father had just finished his national service in the military. My mother, straight after university, had had two children. We didn’t have a huge amount of money, so we lived in rural South Australia for a little while and my dad worked in the public service. They sort of spent all their money trying to put my brother and me into the best school that they could possibly afford for us.
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