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AUSTRALIANS
TODAY


Landmark research into multiculturalism 2016

Author: Prof. Andrew Markus, Monash University, August 2016

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VIDEO: RESEARCH IN SUMMARY

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

  • Australians Today is the result of the Australia@2015 research study
  • Focuses on multiculturalism in Australia
  • Largest survey of its kind undertaken in Australia
  • 10,000 online respondents
  • 50 focus groups across Australia
  • In-depth interviews with 280 people
  • Analysis according to visa type: Skill, Family, Business 457, Student, NZ, Humanitarian, Asylum
  • Compares immigrant experiences with third-generation Australians
  • Conducted by Prof Andrew Markus, Monash University, for the Scanlon Foundation.

IMMIGRATION & AUSTRALIA

Australia has experienced sustained population growth for many decades. In 1996 the population was 18.3 million, at the end of 2015 it was close to 24 million.

Immigration is never an easy program for governments to manage across a number of dimensions, including economic, social and environmental. Difficulties include the need to balance a range of competing interests.

Australia’s 2016 immigration program provides for 190,000 permanent places, 68 per cent in the Skill stream and 32 per cent in the Family stream. In addition, there are 13,750 places in the Humanitarian program, with a special provision over several years for 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict. It is a complex program to administer.

Having this survey available in 20 languages has given us unparalleled insight into the true immigrant experience in Australia today - and just how varied it is from person to person and group to group. I was incredibly moved by the experiences of some people we met during the research and hope our work can encourage new thinking in this space. - Prof Andrew Markus
Our aim at the Scanlon Foundation is to see Australia move forward as a welcoming nation and significant research like this can help us achieve that goal. I’d like to thank the more than 10,000 survey respondents and the participants who gave up their time to be a part of the over 50 focus groups for their commitment and honesty in sharing their thoughts and stories in the hope of making our country a better place. - Anthea Hancocks, Scanlon Foundation
AUSTRALIANS TODAY 01 LIFE IN
AUSTRALIA

Are immigrants happy or unhappy? What do they like best and least about Australia? What’s it like to be Muslim here? Or a New Zealander?

KEY POINTS
62% Of our newest arrivals say they are happy
1 in 4 People say cost of living is what they least like about Australia
17% Of third-gen Australians say too much immigration is what they dislike the most about Australia
Coming from my very white workplace… walking from the station to Bankstown library … I saw Asians and I saw a woman in hijab and I saw someone that was an Islander and I just thought ‘friggen hell!’ Why is this not reflected in my workplace?” - Muslim female, Sydney, NSW

HAPPY OR UNHAPPY?

Survey asked: Taking all things into consideration, would you say that over the last year you have been…
Coming from my very white workplace… walking from the station to Bankstown library … I saw Asians and I saw a woman in hijab and I saw someone that was an Islander and I just thought ‘friggen hell!’ Why is this not reflected in my workplace? - Muslim female, Sydney, NSW

LIFE SATISFACTION

Survey asked: How satisfied are you with your life in Australia?

BEING NZ IN AUSTRALIA

New Zealand Special Category visa holders face a unique set of challenges when they live in Australia. In addition to not having access to a number of social services and citizen supports, they also report experiences of discrimination.

CHRIS TALKS LIFE IN AUS

That's one thing I think you get about Australia that you don't get anywhere else in any other country … you can walk down the street … you've just walked past five countries. - Sudanese male, Dandenong, VIC
New Zealand citizens not being able to access HECS-HELP has been a massive issue in terms of just a form of discrimination which has been really burdensome to a lot of our young people who are trying to go to university, that’s been a real barrier … The young teenagers … they’re always getting … knocked back … Very smart kids but … they can’t go for it which is very sad. - Study participant

LIKES AND DISLIKES

Survey asked: What do you most like about Australia? (first choice, recent arrivals 2001-15)
Survey asked: What do you least like about Australia? (first choice, recent arrivals 2001-15)

BEING MUSLIM IN AUSTRALIA

The Australia@2015 study shed light on what it’s like to be a Muslim in Australia today. Muslims are often misconceived as a unified group. The reality is that Australian Muslims are as diverse as the Australian population, divided by culture and ethnicity, religiosity, and by generational difference.

Not only do Muslim people attract negative sentiments from generational Australians, but other immigrant groups too. One of our focus groups with Chinese-born participants found members of that community were afraid to live in areas with Middle Eastern inhabitants, fearing radicalisation and extremism. Despite this, the overwhelming majority of Muslim respondents expressed their appreciation for Australia and freedoms including democracy and work rights for all.

I say to everyone Australia is a land of opportunity … You can do … anything [here] … If you want to go work, you can work, if you want to study, you can study… Any activities you want to do here, you can do. - Muslim Hazara, Auburn, NSW
Read more: Life in Australia
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AUSTRALIANS TODAY 02 ECONOMIC
STATUS

Getting an income can be tough without work rights or access to government assistance. How many people are struggling to pay bills? Are third-gen Aussies doing it tough too?

KEY POINTS
51% Of recent arrivals to Australia are poor or just getting by
8% Of third generation Australians are poor - half that of recent immigrants
52% Of international students are struggling financially in Australia

GETTING WORK

The Australia@2015 study reinforces the difficulty faced by new arrivals to secure an income. 53 per cent of Independent Skill visa holders say they are just getting along, struggling to pay bills or poor – more than double that of Business visa holders. Some say that the online job application process is working against them and that they are overlooked based on their names, ethnicity and assumed religion and that this doesn’t occur when they anglicise their names on resumes. Unsurprisingly, those on Humanitarian visas are doing it toughest – with 44 per cent not in the workforce.

FINANCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Survey asked: How would you describe your financial circumstances today?
It’s really hard to get the job related to our former profession, because… everything requires local experience… I have got Masters degree in city planning and I have eight years’ experience back home… Then I went to TAFE and I took some courses; it’s still hard to find job. I haven’t been able to find a job for 15 months ... and I’ve applied for 30 jobs a month. - Perth participant

STRUGGLING TO PAY BILLS

We wanted to find out about how common it is for immigrants to be struggling with their bills or just getting along. We also wanted to know how many were prosperous, and how many are living reasonably comfortably.
Read more: Economic status
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AUSTRALIANS TODAY 03 IDENTIFICATION
WITH AUSTRALIA

How welcoming is Australia? Do immigrants feel they belong? Who doesn’t feel welcome and what countries are they from?

KEY POINTS
19% Of New Zealanders say they have a great sense of belonging in Australia
59% Of UK residents say they have a great sense of belonging in Australia
71% Of recent arrivals keep in daily contact with their home country via social media or SMS
I know even those people [who] have some challenges in Australia…the cost of living and the lack of attention from agencies and governments, especially immigration…[but we] are happy [with the] freedom and security … We consider ourselves as a very proud Australian citizens. - Muslim-Hazara, Auburn, NSW

HASHMAT SHARES EXPERIENCE

COMMUNICATION WITH FORMER HOME

One factor differentiating current immigrants from earlier generations is the enhanced connectedness they have with their former home countries. 71 per cent of those who arrived in Australia between 2011-15 keep in contact with friends or relatives by SMS or social media daily or several times a week. That’s 6 per cent more than arrivals from 2001-05. Close to one in three arrivals between 2001-15 watch TV shows from their former homes at least several times a week. However Australia@2015 did not find evidence that this level of contact with former home countries impacts negatively on identification with Australia.

SENSE OF BELONGING

Survey asked: To what extent do you have a sense of belonging in Australia?

NOT BELONGING

This graph shows the countries with the highest number of people who said they didn’t feel they belong in Australia. (low scores by country of birth, arrived 2001-15)
Read more: Identification with Australia
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AUSTRALIANS TODAY 04 AREAS OF
IMMIGRATION

Where in Australia wouldn’t you feel safe walking at night? Are local areas with lots of immigrants getting better or worse? This is what third-gen Aussies and new arrivals had to say:

KEY POINTS
Over 1/3 of Hume (Vic) respondents say their local area is getting worse
51% of Logan (QLD) respondents say they feel unsafe walking alone at night
32% of Auburn-Bankstown (NSW) respondents feel unsafe on the streets at night

LOCAL AREAS SURVEYED

A total of 2287 people completed the Australia@2015 study in the following Local Government Areas with high immigration:

  • VIC: Greater Dandenong, Hume, Brimbank, Moreland
  • NSW: Auburn, Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool
  • QLD: Logan
  • WA: Stirling.
We don’t feel as safe walking on the streets alone at night now as we used to do ten years back … that is a major concern … in the evenings or in the night it’s not safe anymore. - Indian respondent, Melbourne, VIC

CRIME AND SAFETY

Survey asked: How safe do you feel walking alone at night?

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN URBAN AREAS

Urban segmentation in Australia isn’t new – being a feature of Australian life since the arrival of European immigrants in the 1940s. However some recent arrivals believe this is increasing once more, with immigration areas growing and other ethnicities leaving. Even within their own cities, many immigrants state the vast differences between high-immigration areas and monocultural, more gentrified areas – saying how out of place they feel in such localities.

BETTER OR WORSE?

Survey asked: Would you say that living in your local area is becoming better, worse or unchanged?
Read more: Areas of immigration
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AUSTRALIANS TODAY 05 TRUST

Which professions do immigrants and ancestral Australians trust the least? Can most Australians be trusted or do you have to be careful? What do people think about police, politicians, the Department of Immigration?

KEY POINTS
33% Of recent immigrants trust real estate agents only slightly more than they trust Australian politicians
86% Of recent arrival trust Medicare, which is, according to them, is the most trustworthy organisation in Australia
37% Of recent immigrants say generally most people in Australia can be trusted

MORE ON TRUST

There are vast differences regarding a sense of trust and Australian people depending on where someone is from. New Zealanders have low trust in Australia, while those from Afghanistan report significantly higher feelings of trust – often four times above that expressed by New Zealanders in response to questions. Of the visa groups, Business 457 visa holders report the highest level of trust in Australian organisations and people, however this is unsurprising due to the fact they come to Australia with secured employment and often associated housing assistance and more.

When we arrive here, okay where do we go? We go to the hotel or any short-term accommodation. When you go to Vodafone to have a plan, they ask you for an address. You don’t have an address. When you go to rent a property they ask you for rent history. You don’t have any rent history. They ask you for payslip, you don’t have any job. You apply for jobs, they won’t give you any job because you don’t have local experience, you don’t have the local degree. You go to the bank to open bank account, they ask you for address and telephone. You will go to the telephone company, they ask you for the bank account. What should you do? It’s a circle. You cannot get out. - Iranian immigrant

CAN MOST PEOPLE BE TRUSTED?

Survey asked: Would you say that most people in Australia can be trusted? Or would you say that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?

TRUST IN ORGANISATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

Survey asked: How much trust do you have in Australian organisations and institutions?
Read more: Trust
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AUSTRALIANS TODAY 06 EXPERIENCE OF
DISCRIMINATION

Which people experience discrimination and racism the most? Muslim people? Those from Iraq or China? Indigenous Australians? Does ancestry affect tolerance?

KEY POINTS
77% Of South Sudanese say they have experienced discrimination - more than any other immigrant group
59% Of Indigenous Australians report discrimination
29% Of third generation Australians have low ethnic and cultural tolerance - more than double that of those from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds
I really had a bad experience when I was seven months pregnant …and … catch the tram and go to the Royal Women’s Hospital. I was waiting on the signal for the tram and the tram driver was stopping … I walked (and) he shut the door and he just he moved. And the people sitting inside they started laughing, I could see them laughing at me, and I was pregnant and I felt so bad. Then I almost started crying and I went back home, I didn’t go to the hospital that day. … He saw me that I’m waiting there and he just moved on. - Muslim woman, Brunswick, VIC
My mum went to grocery shopping and someone pulled her scarf, like someone pulled it off and ran away with it … - Muslim woman, Moreland, VIC

LIZZY DISCUSSES DISCRIMINATION

DISCRIMINATION AND COUNTRY OF ORIGIN

Survey asked: How much discrimination have you experienced in Australia?

ABOUT TOLERANCE IN AUSTRALIA

The majority of Australians support the current immigration program, with 60 per cent of Australia@2015 survey respondents stating that they are happy with the current level of immigrant intake.

But opinion is not completely clear-cut. When asked what they like least about Australia, 18 per cent of third-generation Australians said ‘racism and discrimination.’ A further 19 per cent stated ‘too much immigration.’

TOLERANCE ACCORDING TO ANCESTRY

We analysed the tolerance levels of third-generation Australians compared to those with parents born overseas. (Non-English Speaking Background/NESB)
Read more: Experience of discrimination
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