The Asia region is becoming a leading source for permanent migration to Australia, reflecting a trend that has become known as the Asian Century. The new Australia's Migration Trends report, released by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Brendan O'Connor, covers migration activity for 2011/2012, and provides a clear picture of substantial changes in the origins of Australia's migrants.
For the first time, India and China were the two main source countries of permanent migrants and seven of the top 10 source countries in 2011/2012 were located in the Asia region. The data also shows that between 1996 and 2011, Australia's overseas born population grew by more than 40% to reach six million.
'This was more than double the rate for the Australian born population and is essential in addressing the demographic challenges of an ageing population,' O'Connor said. 'With the government's strong emphasis on skilled migration, this sort of growth is also crucial to ensuring depth in Australia's labour force,' he added.
The substantial growth in overseas born residents is changing Australia's ethnic composition. In the past 15 years the number of China-born Australian residents has more than tripled. This growth rate was surpassed by the number of India-born residents which increased fourfold over this same period. Since September 2005 Net Overseas Migration (NOM) has overtaken natural increase as the main component of Australia's population growth. For the year March 2011 to March 2012, NOM added 197,200 people to the population, or 59.5% of the total growth for that period.
The UK is still the main origin of birth for the majority of people who were born overseas, accounting for 1,180,160 as of the end of June 2012. Next was New Zealand at 564,920, China at 391,060, India at 343,070, and Vietnam at 212,070. The figures also show that patterns of migration are changing. In 2011/20, half of Australia's skilled migrants applied while they were already living in Australia on a temporary visa.
'This was more than twice the rate of a decade earlier and reflects a growing trend of migrants seeing what Australia has to offer before making a commitment to settle permanently,' said O'Connor. There is also clear evidence of Australia's commitment to international refugee protection. 'By granting more than 13,700 humanitarian visas in 2011/2012, Australia continued to earn its place as one of the top three resettlement countries in the world, along with Canada and the United States,' added O'Connor.