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2018 APS Congress

The 2018 APS Congress will be held in Sydney from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 September 2018

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Social cohesion

With increasing understanding of the importance of social cohesion to community wellbeing and national security in a multicultural society, there is a clear need for psychologists to take greater community leadership in this area.

Key points

  • Psychology can offer important insights about psychological factors that underpin social conflict and the most effective ways to bring people together to maximise positive relationships and productive outcomes.
  • These insights include approaches to resolving conflicts, and forms of governance that prioritise co-operation over coercion.
  • Drawing on psychological science, we can help people to understand why social cohesion is important, to see how their own behaviour can threaten social cohesion, and how they can play a part in solutions. Psychology can offer hope and generate optimism. It can also speed social change to promote and maintain social cohesion.
  • Five key tips from psychology to promote social cohesion are:
    • Understand what factors promote social cohesion and why it breaks down
    • Strengthen people’s identities
    • Focus on community strengths instead of punitive measures
    • Provide safe ways to express conflict
    • Promote cultural competence
  • Any strategy to effectively promote social cohesion requires long-term vision, planning and leadership.

How the APS is involved

The APS has been involved in many issues relating to social cohesion over the last couple of decades. These issues include:

  • Multiculturalism and citizenship
  • Racism
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Violence
  • Representations of ethic groups in the media

Work has included writing position papers, review papers, submissions, information sheets, and convening roundtables.

Of particular note, In 2016, the APS President convened a roundtable on social cohesion in a multicultural society as part of his Presidential Initiative for that year.

The roundtable brought key experts together to identify how psychology can contribute to promoting social cohesion in a multicultural society.

The roundtable made recommendations including:

  • Convening a psychologist-led reference group to oversee and guide ongoing work related to social cohesion
  • Developing a set of multimedia resources and guidelines that can be used by psychologists as well as the public in schools, communities, and with policy makers and the media
  • Developing training and workshops on the topic for psychologists and other professions and community leaders that include skill development on how to talk with others about social cohesion
  • Conducting advocacy work
  • Generating media (APS releases and statements) which challenge misinformation and promote social cohesion and diversity.