Aussies Mixed Views on Multiculturalism - NFP Report
30 October 2014 at 10:30 am
Most Australians believe that multiculturalism is good and that more immigrants should be accepted into the country, but an even larger majority think that the Australian way of life needs to be protected, a new Not for Profit survey has found.
|Report author Professor Andrew Markus|
The Scanlon Foundation’s 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion Report found that 71 per cent of Australians felt strongly that it was important to maintain the Australian culture, a rise of 22 per cent since July this year, and 15 per cent of Australians had a “very negative” attitude towards Muslims, an increase of three per cent since July.
The report found that five per cent of people held very negative views towards Buddhists and three per cent had negative views towards Christians.
Surveying more than 24,000 people since 2007, the Scanlon Foundation’s report, produced in partnership with Monash University and the Australian Multicultural Foundation, is said to be the largest study of its kind. It monitors public attitudes on issues including immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination, and belonging.
Report author Professor Andrew Markus from Monash University said there were positives to be found in the report with Australia’s public sentiment toward immigration intake possibly the most positive in the western world.
In 2014, 58 per cent of people agree that the immigration intake is about right or too low. Just 35 per cent of people consider that the immigration intake is too high.
“This level of public support is somewhat surprising in the context of rising unemployment and other economic concerns, as well as international comparisons,” Professor Markus said.
“In 2014, American and European surveys have found disapproval of immigration in the range of 60 to 75 per cent.”
Public concern over asylum seeker arrivals by boat has dropped. In 2013, the issue was seen as the major problem facing Australia by 12 per cent of people. In 2014, less than 4 per cent of people hold the same view.
“It would seem that acceptance of the Government’s measures to stop the arrival of asylum seekers by boat has influenced this outcome,” Professor Markus said.
The Federal Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews said overall the report showed Australia had a cohesive society.
“About 2500 people were surveyed across two polls which found high levels of belonging and broad public support for multiculturalism,” Andrews said.
“It found an almost unanimous (92 per cent) sense of belonging to Australia, pride in the Australian way of life (88 per cent) and that its maintenance was important (91 per cent).
“Support for multiculturalism remained strong, with 85 per cent of respondents agreeing that multiculturalism has been good for Australia.”
According to the report attitudes toward multiculturalism differ among the Australian population, for example between third generation Australians and those from non-English speaking backgrounds.
While a large majority of third generation Australians agree that people from different backgrounds get on well and that they like getting to know people from other cultures, the majority do not agree with entrenched cultural and ethnic difference.
But the report also highlighted areas of concern.
Experience of discrimination remains close to the highest level recorded since the surveys began – at 18 per cent in 2014. Of those who reported experience of discrimination, 30 per cent indicated that it was a frequent occurrence, at least once a month.
“This translates to five per cent of our population experiencing discrimination on a monthly basis,” Professor Markus said.
There were also concerns about the working of Australian democracy.
Trust in Government remains well below the level recorded in 2007-2009. While close to 90 per cent of people agree that democracy, whatever its problems, is the best system of Government, just 15 per cent agree that the system works well as it is.