Lifestyle is the number one attraction for people moving to Australia and they are also attracted by the nation's democratic traditions and freedoms, a new survey has found.

But new arrivals are having different settlement experiences once they get to Australia and not all improve their circumstances over time, according to the research from Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES).

Sydney Australia

(By f11photo/​

It found that migrants and refugees move to Australia for different reasons and often their experiences depend on factors such as when they arrive, English competency, and age.

As part of an effort to understand how these multiple factors interact and influence the immigrant journey, settlement agency AMES Australia surveyed 131 refugees and migrants living in Victoria in late 2017.

The respondents came from over 30 countries, most prominently China with 24%, some 11% from Syria, 7% from Iran and others from Vietnam, Thailand and India with a wide range of ages from 18 to over 50 years old.

When asked for their reasons for coming to Australia, some 52% said it was for a better standard of living and lifestyle, whilst 24% said they came for Australian democratic traditions and freedoms.

Once they had arrived, learning English was found as the most important need for respondents, yet an overwhelming 645 identified this as the biggest hurdle impacting on their settlement in Australia.

Age demographics appeared to play a role in perceptions with 38% of respondents over 50 saying democracy and freedom was their favourite thing about Australia while younger respondents aged 18 to 29 thought lifestyle was equally important as democracy.

However, responses were mixed about what they like least, and included things like difficulty in finding work, missing their family and still having family living overseas, weather, and expensive living costs in Australia.

Comparing the respondents' length of time living in Australia with difficulties in settling in Australia, feelings of isolation were shown not to dissipate over time as may be expected.

Some 11% of those who had been in Australia for less than two years reported feelings of isolation and missing family and friends, compared to 21% who had been in the country to two to five years and 13% for five years and over.

Survey respondent and recently arrived Chinese migrant Yuzhen Chen said she chose to migrate to Australia because it has a good environment and education opportunities, and because it is a good place to bring up her children.

'My children can have good future here. Australia a clean environment and a good education system with opportunities. My favourite thing about Australia is the lovely blue sky every day. I love to do outside activities under the blue sky,' she said.

AMES chief executive officer Cath Scarth said the survey showed that migrants and refugees new to Australia valued the nation's life, traditions and opportunities and were committed to becoming part of the wider society.

'What the survey tells us is that migrants who come to this country have a commitment to it and want to become part of its social fabric. But it also shows some have barriers to successful settlement and we as a nation, as communities, and as individuals, can support people to overcome them,' she said.