Australia immigration

Majority of people in Australia think immigration is good for the nation

by Ray Clancy on November 30, 2017

in Australia Immigration

The majority of people in Australia believe that accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger but more people say they have encountered discrimination because of their ethnicity.

The tenth Scanlon Foundation social cohesion report reveals that there has been a consistently high level of support for immigration and cultural diversity in the country but there is evidence that newcomers may not be integrating.

(FrameAngel/Shutterstock.com)

The research report, produced for the foundation by Monash University researchers, is the largest survey of its kind and tracks attitudes on immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination and political trust.

Despite significant demographic change over the decade, including population rise and increased diversity, Australian attitudes have remained, in large measure, stably positive, it shows.

The report says it is notable that with all of this change some 63% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that immigration is good for Australia while 37% believe Australia’s immigration intake is too high.

Agreement that multiculturalism has been good for Australia remains in the high range of 83% to 86%, where it has been since the Scanlon Foundation surveys began asking the question in 2013.

Report author, Professor Andrew Markus, said 10 years of surveying did demonstrate areas where concerns are increasing among a minority of Australians. Some 75% now agree that Australia is a land of opportunity where hard work is rewarded, down from 81% in 2007.

The percentage of Australians who expected their lives to be worse in three or four years has almost doubled over the decade, from 11% in 2007 to 19% in 2017. Those reporting discrimination on the basis of their skin colour, ethnic origin or religion more than doubled, from 9% to 20%.

When results were analysed alongside the 2016 Australian census, Markus said further insights emerged. ‘There is evidence of increasing geographical concentration of overseas born populations, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, bringing into question whether past patterns of integration are continuing,’ he said.

‘There are continuing relatively high levels of negative feeling towards Muslims, and a close examination of survey responses indicates an increase, albeit of less than ten percentage points, of those indicating strong negative views,’ he pointed out.

The survey also found that concern over the economy remains the top ranked most important problem facing Australia today by a wide margin, although it has dropped to 26%, down from 36% in 2013. Poor quality of Government is the second ranked issue at 10%.

Three issues have undergone substantial change over the last decade. Concerns of environment and climate change have dropped to 7% following a peak of 18% in 2011, concern over asylum seekers and boat arrivals have dropped from 12% in 2012/2013 to just 2% in 2017, and concerns of terrorism and national security are at 7%, compared to just 1% in 2014.

Trust in the federal Government to do the right thing for the Australian people has fallen 10% to 29% in 2017.

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