Majority of Australians think multiculturalism is good for the country

by Ray Clancy on February 29, 2016

in Australia, General Information

Multiculturalism is good for Australia, according to 85% of people surveyed for a new study that looked at attitudes towards immigration.

But underneath this headline figure is a much more complex picture that varies according to age, location and demographic group, the report from the Scanlon Foundation reveals.

Researchers found a gap in attitudes between State capital cities and their regions. A comparison of them found that 48% of people in Melbourne and Canberra thought multiculturalism was good but this was 39% to 42% in Adelaide and Sydney and 35% to 37% in Brisbane and Perth.

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Similarly, attitudes differed across the generations, with young people consistently more accepting of immigration and cultural diversity than middle aged and older respondents.

Young people have the highest positive response to the question of whether multiculturalism has been good for Australia, with 91% agreeing or strongly agreeing. Similarly, young people strongly back the notion that Australians should learn more about migrant cultures, with 85% agreeing or strongly agreeing.

Young people also have the strongest negative reaction when questioned about whether Australia’s immigration policy should discriminate against particular groups on the basis of ethnicity with 87% disagreeing compared to 71% of people aged 60 to 69.

Almost two thirds of young people aged 18to 29 agreed that the Government should assist ethnic minorities to maintain their culture, compared to just 34% of middle aged, and 31% of older Australians.

“These findings suggest that young people see multiculturalism as a central component of Australian life and see no contradiction between being Australian and maintaining immigrant cultures and identity. This reflects the reality of a globalised world, where people now expect to have multiple careers and live in different countries,” the report says.

The research also revealed concern over immigration which is now at its lowest level since the surveys began in 2007, yet 35% of people still feel that the immigration intake is too high.

“Australia’s diverse culture is one of its most defining characteristics. In an era of globalisation, and with immigration continuing to be prominent issue in the news cycle, it’s timely to consider public attitudes about a changing and increasingly diverse society, and how this affects our overall social cohesion,” said Anthea Hancocks, chief executive officer of the Scanlon Foundation.

“Australians are generally very accepting of cultural diversity and immigration, however this level of support varies across generations, geographical locations, and particular demographic groups,” she explained.

She added that the Foundation hopes the paper will encourage thoughtful debate about the concept of multiculturalism, and how Australia will continue to foster social cohesion in a rapidly changing world.

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