Mapping Social Cohesion 2009 Report
The Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion 2009 – the second in a longitudinal series – revealed that Australians’ attitudes to immigration have defied historic trends by remaining positive during the recent economic downturn.
It included a national survey of 2000 people aged 18 years and over, and six local surveys in six local government areas in Melbourne and Sydney. Four were in areas of high immigrant concentration (Greater Dandenong and Hume in Melbourne and Fairfield and Bankstown in Sydney) and two in areas of high Australian-born population (Sunbury in Melbourne and Engadine in Sydney).
The report (refer to Reports of the Scanlon Foundation Surveys, Monash University ) provides a fascinating national snapshot of Australia’s attitudes to immigration and social cohesion, including:
- Only one in ten Australians hold strongly negative views on issues related to immigration and cultural diversity (9 per cent)
- The majority of Australians agree accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger (68 per cent)
- Nine out of ten migrants of non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB’s) who live in areas of high immigrant concentration agree that “Australia is a land of economic opportunity where hard work brings a better life in the long run” - compared with four out of five Australian-born citizens.
- Australians, including immigrants, identify strongly with Australia – 93 per cent of respondents agree that maintaining the Australian way of life and culture is important, 95 per cent have a sense of belonging in Australia.
Despite the positive findings, the report also found Australia still has challenges in the area of discrimination, safety and security in areas where immigrant numbers are high.
The research showed that:
- The reported incidence of discrimination is 50 per cent higher in areas of high immigrant concentration than at a national level
- Only 28 per cent of long-time Australians and 40 per cent of people of NESBs who live in areas with high immigrant concentration feel safe walking alone at night (compared to 62 per cent and 43 per cent at a national level)
- Half of all people of NESBs who live in areas of high immigrant concentration are worried about becoming a victim of crime (compared to 32 per cent of NESB people on a national level).
The report found the lack of sense of safety was more attributable to living in areas with a low socio-economic profile, and often “ethnic groups become the scapegoats for socio-economic difficulties experienced by local residents.”