The 2009 survey was conducted in a period of declining economic confidence, with predictions that Australia, along with all Western economies, would face the most severe challenges since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Despite the economic concerns, the Australian government maintained a large immigration program. During recessions in the 1980s and 1990s negative views of immigration had risen sharply; this experience raised the expectation that the 2009 survey would reveal a marked change in opinion since the optimistic times of 2007 when the first social cohesion survey was conducted.

Findings

Contrary to such expectation, the most compelling finding is the lack of change between 2007 and 2009. The 2007 survey provided evidence of a society that maintained a high level of positive outcomes, fostering a sense of belonging, social justice and worth. This continues to hold true in 2009. With the two data sets now available, a nominal index of social cohesion has been developed. This index points to marginal increase since 2007 in indicators of rejection, and marginal decline in sense of belonging and worth. But there is also indication of increased participation in political life and a heightened confidence in the federal government and its pursuit of social justice and equity.

Mapping Social Cohesion Full Report 2009

Mapping Social Cohesion Summary Report 2009