Mapping Social Cohesion Survey 2007
It is a widely held view that Australia is one of the most socially cohesive of nations, especially with respect to management of its diverse immigration program since the Second World War. Thus the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, Laurie Ferguson, stated on 19 March 2008:
“Australians can be proud of the high levels of social cohesion this country has enjoyed … Australia has achieved extraordinary successes in building a cohesive, progressive and modern country.”
But how is social cohesion to be understood? The Scanlon Foundation Surveys (2007) adopted a wide-ranging approach to enable consideration of fi ve key elements relating to attitudes, reported experience and behaviour.
In keeping with international surveys, which indicate that Australia comes at or near the top in measurement of sense of belonging and worth, our surveys found that:
- 96% express a strong sense of belonging in Australia.
- 94% take pride in the Australian way of life.
- 89% indicate that ‘taking all things into consideration’, they are happy with their lives.
- 80% agree that ‘Australia is a land of economic opportunity where in the long run, hard work brings a better life’.
In contrast, with regard to specific social justice issues, current immigration and settlement policy and trust in public institutions, division of opinion is evident.