Australians feel immigrants good for economy

Monica Sharma

Australia is a nation of immigrants and 85 per cent of its population believes that multiculturalism has been good for the country. This is one of the findings of a report by Monash University which studied the Australians’ attitude on immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination and political trust among others. The 11th Mapping Social Cohesion Report (2018) by the Scanlon Foundation highlights the acceptance of cultural diversity and key indicators of social cohesion. 

The report finds that few want reduction in immigration with a majority (52 per cent) indicating that the current intake is either “about right” or “too low”. 

As per the report, 64 per cent agree that immigrants should change their behaviour to be more like them. Nearly 65 per cent believe that Australians should learn more about customs and cultures of immigrants. Eight out of 10 Aussies agree that immigrants improve their society by bringing in new ideas and cultures, and that immigrants are good for the economy. “Australia has a proud history of immigration. What is important is the contribution you make, not where you come from,” says minister for immigration, citizenship and multicultural affairs, David Coleman.

“Another reason for our success is the commitment of new citizens to our shared values — democracy, freedom, the rule of law and equal opportunity — regardless of one’s cultural background, gender, race or religion. The government is continuing to build on the multicultural success with a focus on skill-based immigration system to meet the needs of Australian economy,” Coleman adds.

In line with the 2017 findings, 74 per cent Australians this year, too, have agreed that in their local area people of different nationalities or ethnic groups get along well together. Only a minority (33 per cent) is worried about becoming a victim of crime, though the concern is higher in Victoria (41 per cent), where home invasions and carjackings have received prominent media coverage throughout 2018.

Report author Prof Andrew Markus says: “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.”

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.’  

Restricting immigration on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion has got the support of only 15 per cent of respondents, who agree on restriction on the basis of race or ethnicity, and 18 per cent on the basis of religion.  

The findings of the report have been appreciated by the immigrants. Monika Kumar, multicultural liaison officer for Labour Party, says, “People from different parts of the world have been immigrating here for generations. All these communities coming together is what makes Australia a beautiful place that it is. People from different backgrounds proudly display their culture and celebrate traditional festivals, which anyone can be part of. These events allow Australians to know about varied cultures, recognising the wider history, along with a broader range of skills and abilities, making Australia the land of opportunities.”

Asian Australian Lawyers’ Association vice-president, Molina Asthana, says there has been a gradual increase in the number of people from various ethnicities trickling into the country. “I feel the understanding of immigrants is limited to culture, traditions, dressing style and food. When it comes to representation of immigrants in jobs at top level, there is less diversity. Unconscious bias against immigrants is still prevalent in certain top-level jobs.”

Favourable study 

  • 85 per cent of Australians agree multiculturalism has had a positive impact on the country.
  • 82 per cent believe immigrants improve their society by bringing in new ideas and cultures.
  • 80 per cent of Australians feel that immigrants are good for the country’s economy.