Multiculturalism Welcomed Despite Growing Immigration Concerns
4 December 2018 at 1:30 am
Research has shown that despite an increased concern over Australia’s immigration levels, the majority of Australians recognise the benefits of multiculturalism, and are happy with the nation’s migrant intake.
The Scanlon Foundation released its annual Social Cohesion report on Tuesday, and said although a number of polls in 2018 reported the majority of Australians favoured cuts to immigration, a Scanlon survey found 43 per cent of people believed immigration intake was too high, while 52 per cent said it was about right or too low.
The report also found close to eight in 10 agreed immigrants improve Australian society by bringing new ideas and cultures, and benefit the economy.
“There remains a consistently high level of endorsement of multiculturalism, with 85 per cent agreeing with the proposition that ‘multiculturalism has been good for Australia’,” the report said.
Report author, Professor Andrew Markus, said eight new immigration questions in this
year’s survey provided deeper insight into the perceived value of immigration to the country, and the issues influencing public opinion on immigration numbers.
“Beyond a narrow focus on the immigration intake, Australians continue to endorse the view that their country is an immigrant nation, and that immigration benefits the country,” he said.
While a clear majority were supportive of a multicultural Australia, Markus said there were concerns about the impact of immigration on the country.
“Close to five in 10 are worried about the impact of immigration on overcrowding cities; housing prices; and government failure to manage population growth,” he said.
Further differences in attitudes to immigration were also highlighted across different demographic groups.
Young people aged 18-29 with a Bachelor’s degree or higher shared the same level of concern as the general population about the impact of immigration on house prices (52 per cent) but were less likely to think immigrants increased crime, (seven per cent compared to 34 per cent), and that the immigration intake was too high (seven per cent, compared to 43 per cent).
“Among educated young people – a cohort which can be expected to have a major influence on the direction of Australian society in coming decades – there is zero disagreement with the proposition that accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger,” Markus said.
The report comes off the back of the Victorian state election, where many community groups heavily criticised the Coalition opposition for running a “fear-campaign” around out of control African gang violence.
The Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria (FCLC) said the Daniel Andrews landslide victory sent a message that the wider community did not accept a campaign of fear and hate.
“Thousands of you supported our calls for justice. You pledged not to vote for politicians who use racial scapegoating,” an FCLC spokesperson said.
“This victory for hope happened because thousands of us stood up for unity over fear.”
The report did show concern over becoming a victim of crime in the participant’s local area was eight per cent higher in Victoria at 41 per cent, but this was attributed to the fact a number of violent home invasions and carjackings received prominent media coverage throughout the year.
With the report in its eleventh year, Markus said this year’s report demonstrated a great resilience and optimism from most Australians.
“Given the magnitude of change which has tested Australia’s social cohesion since 2007 – the Global Financial Crisis, sustained population growth, political instability with six prime ministers in ten years – a large majority of Australians have demonstrated a remarkable resilience and optimism about the future,” he said.