Australia is less patriotic and more open to cultural diversity, new research finds

by Ray Clancy on November 2, 2015

in Australia Immigration

Australians are becoming less patriotic and more accepting of cultural diversity than their parents and grandparents, new research has found.

Successive governments in Australia have talked about diversity being important for the nation and its economic future and encouraged people from around the world to move to the country to work, live and study.

Sydney-AustraliaAnd now it seems the population is buying into an Australia that is welcoming to immigrant groups with the annual Scanlon Foundation report Mapping Social Cohesion showing that Australians are accepting of cultural diversity and immigration.

But it also reveals that while they are concerned about changes impacting on social justice, discrimination based on ethnic background and religion has lessened from 18% to 15% since last year, and there continues to be a high level of acceptance of immigration and cultural diversity.

The vast majority, 86%, said that they agree that multiculturalism has been good for Australia, almost the same proportion as in 2013 and 2014. But there is also concern over lack of support for those on low incomes, the increasing gap between rich and poor, and continuing low trust in government.

Key findings also show that in 2015, economic concerns remain on top in the ranking of the most important issue facing Australia today, with national security, terrorism, and social issues ranking second.

“Economic issues have ranked first as a major problem facing Australia in the last four surveys, but concern is not increasing. The most significant change has been in concern for national security and terrorism, which has increased from less than 1% in 2014, to 10% in 2015,” said report author, Professor Andrew Markus.

Overall, the level of concern about immigration remains at the lowest point recorded by the Scanlon Foundation surveys and just 35% of respondents consider that the intake is too high.

In response to questions on integration, two thirds of respondents agreed that Australians should do more to learn about the customs and heritage of immigrants, while a similar proportion agreed that immigrants should change their behaviour to be more like Australians.

“The survey found considerable support for the idea that both people born in Australia and immigrants needed to adapt to life in a changing Australia,” says Markus.

The research also found that residents in regional Australia have lower support for immigration, cultural diversity and the resettlement of asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia than respondents living in capital cities.

Those living in regional areas are more likely to consider Australia’s immigration intake to be too high with 44% of people holding this view, compared to 36% in capital cities – but in both areas, this is a minority view.

Residents in Melbourne and Canberra have the highest level of support for cultural diversity, compared with those in Brisbane and Perth who are most negative while the lowest level of trust in the federal government was in Victoria, the highest level in Queensland and Western Australia.

“Australia’s diverse culture is one of its most defining characteristics. Understanding public attitudes through this report, is one way to ensure we address issues that are crucial to sustaining social cohesion,” said Scanlon Foundation chief executive officer Anthea Hancocks.

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