Discrimination and Disadvantage Key Migrant Issues
24 August 2016 at 2:58 pm
Muslim and New Zealand immigrants have experienced high levels of racism and discrimination in Australia according to one of the largest studies ever undertaken of recent migrants and people born in Australia.
The report by the Scanlon Foundation found that freedom, democracy and our standard of living are rated as the best aspects of Australian life by both recent migrants and those born here, but some groups are happier than others.
Australians Today, produced in partnership with Monash University and the Australian Multicultural Foundation, surveyed more than 10,000 respondents across 20 language groups.
The research, released Wednesday, outlines public attitudes to key issues around immigration and country of origin.
Negativity toward Muslims was found to be relatively high in Australia, with Muslim women reporting 50 per cent more experiences of discrimination than Muslim men.
It found that humanitarian entrants, while satisfied with life in Australia, struggled to find work and reported increased financial hardship over time.
Report author Professor Andrew Markus said the research highlighted the level of polarisation on immigration and cultural diversity.
Among those least satisfied were New Zealanders on special category visas, with some 50 per cent indicating that they have experienced racism or discrimination in Australia – the highest level among the visa categories analysed.
“New Zealanders are not considered migrants and are not accepted as permanent residents, even though large numbers base their lives in Australia. These visa conditions also contribute to a low sense of belonging in Australia,” Markus said.
“More than a quarter indicated they had no sense of belonging in Australia, compared to 5 per cent from the UK and 1 per cent from India,”
“The majority of Australians support the immigration program. Some 56 per cent are supportive of the current intake or consider that it could be increased. However, when asked what they least like about Australia, 18 per cent of people born in Australia indicated there was too much immigration,” Markus said.
He said discrimination remained a serious issue, with highest levels reported by Indigenous Australians and some African national groups.
More than three in four (77 per cent) South Sudanese migrants – a relatively new immigrant group in Australia, arriving largely via the humanitarian program – said they had experienced discrimination.
“This is the highest level of all respondent groups,” Markus said.
This group reported experience of physical attack, property damage and a lack of trust in police was significantly higher, compared to Australian born residents.
The report found that the most happy and prosperous of recent migrants were those arriving in Australia on a 457 business visa, with 90 per cent satisfied with life in Australia. In contrast, many arriving on an skilled-independent visa struggled to find work, and nearly half indicate they are just getting along or struggling to pay bills.
Markus said the difference in satisfaction levels between 457 visa holders and those on skilled-independent visas was significant.
“The proportion of independent skill visa [sic] holders indicating a measure of difficulty is more than double that of 457 visa holders. A likely explanation is that 457 visa holders have work arranged before they come to Australia,” Markus said.
Focus group findings also provided evidence of segmentation in major cities.
“Many Australians live in the context of cultural diversity, for them, diversity is the normal way of life. But for others, little has changed since the days of the monocultural society of their parents,” Markus said.
The results also provided some polarised opinions about life in Australia. When recent arrivals were asked what they least liked about Australia 15 per cent said racism and discrimination however a further three percent said there were too many immigrants.
Scanlon Foundation CEO Anthea Hancocks said the report provided valuable insight for government, business and the community sector.
“The Australians Today report shows a number of positive indicators relating to life in Australia from various perspectives, including recent arrivals, but it is important that the challenges identified are considered and addressed,” Hancocks said.
“The Australians Today report builds on the data collected from the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion reports.”