So what is all the fuss about? Scary monsters. Toothless tigers. Nightmares rather than reality. Fantasies. Raging presuppositions and prejudices. Something nasty in the wood shed.
Multicultural and multi-ethnic Australia: no other Australia exists.
This is the Australia you are standing in right now:
OVERSEAS BORN POPULATION
Australia, along with New Zealand, Canada and the United States, is often described as a ‘settlement country’. All four countries have experienced positive net overseas migration in recent years (OECD 2010). These countries have relatively high proportions of the population who were born overseas, when compared with other OECD countries. Australia has the highest proportion aside from Luxembourg, where over one third of the population are foreign-born.Foreign-born in selected OECD countries – 1997 and 2007
Percentage of population Country 1997 2007 Australia 23.3 25.0 Canada 17.7 20.1 Finland 2.2 3.8 Italy(a) 2.1 5.8 Japan(a) 1.2 1.7 Luxembourg 31.9 36.2 Mexico(b) 0.4 0.4 United Kingdom 7.2 10.2 United States 10.7 13.6 (a) Foreign population rather than foreign-born population.
(b) Data for Mexico are for 1995 and 2005.
Source: OECD, OECD in Figures 2009
Australia has experienced successive waves of immigration over the past century, and each wave has been characterised by a different predominant region of origin, usually related to world events of the period. In the post Second World War period, immigration from Europe increased markedly. In recent times, the proportion of Australians who were born in European countries has declined. As those earlier immigrants have grown older and returned to their country of origin or died, current levels of immigration from these regions have not been high enough to replace them. However in 2007-08, North-West Europe and Southern and Eastern Europe were still the most common regions of birth for Australians born overseas (7.2% and 3.8% of all Australians were born in these regions). The proportion of Australians who were born in the various regions of Asia has continued to increase over the last decade, part of a trend that began in the late 1970s.Regions of birth, Proportion of Australia’s population, 30 June – 1999 and 2009
1999 2009(a) % % Australia 76.9 73.5 Oceania and Antarctica (excl. Aust.) 2.4 3.0 North-West Europe 7.9 7.2 Southern and Eastern Europe 4.6 3.8 North Africa and the Middle East 1.2 1.5 South-East Asia 2.8 3.4 North-East Asia 1.6 2.8 Southern and Central Asia 0.9 2.3 Americas 0.9 1.1 Sub-Saharan Africa 0.7 1.3 (a) Estimates for 2008-09 are preliminary.
Source: ABS Migration, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 3412.0)
Religion: one indicator of culture
Those figures come from the 2006 census via Ben Kwok.
He seems to have left something out though:
In the 1960s, 45 per cent of all new arrivals were born in the United Kingdom or Ireland. By the 1990s, this had fallen to 13 per cent, with the number of new settlers increasing from countries in the Asia–Pacific region, Africa and the Middle East. One result has been that non-Christian religions are now growing at a faster rate than Christian religions—in the past 10 years, the number of people affiliated with non-Christian faiths has almost doubled.
In the 2006 Census, 12.7 million reported that they were Christian, compared to around 12.6 million in the 1996 Census. However, as a proportion of the total population, the number of Christians fell from 71 per cent to 64 per cent. During the same period, people affiliated with non-Christian faiths increased from around 600 000 to 1.1 million and collectively accounted for 5.6 per cent of the total population in 2006, compared to 3.5 per cent in 1996.
The biggest Christian denominations continued to be Catholic (25.8 per cent of the population) followed by Anglican (18.7 per cent) and the Uniting Church (5.7 per cent). The biggest non-Christian religions were Buddhism (2.1 per cent), Islam (1.7 per cent) and Hinduism (0.7 per cent).
The number of Australian residents who stated in the Census that they had no religion increased from 2.9 million in 1996 to 3.7 million in 2006—almost 19 per cent of the total population.
Major religious affiliations—Census figures 1996 and 2006 Religion 1996
% 1996–2006 (change %) Christian 12 582.8 70.9 12 685.8 63.9 0.8 Catholic 4 799.0 27.0 5 126.9 25.8 6.8 Anglican 3 903.3 22.0 3 718.2 18.7 -4.7 Uniting Church 1 334.9 7.5 1 135.4 5.7 -14.9 Presbyterian and Reformed 675.5 3.8 596.7 3.0 -11.7 Eastern Orthodox 497.0 2.8 544.2 2.7 9.5 Non-Christian 616.4 3.5 1 105.1 5.6 79.3 Buddhism 199.8 1.1 418.8 2.1 109.6 Islam 200.9 1.1 340.4 1.7 69.4 Hinduism 67.3 0.4 148.1 0.7 120.2 Judaism 79.8 0.4 88.8 0.4 11.3 No religion 2 948.9 16.6 3 706.6 18.7 25.7 Not stated 1 550.6 8.7 2 224.0 11.2 43.4
Languages: another indicator of culture
Wikipedia offers the most convenient summary.
English is the de facto national language of Australia and is spoken by the vast majority of the population.
The most commonly spoken languages other than English in Australia are Italian, Greek, German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Chinese languages, Indian languages, Arabic and Croatian, as well as numerous Australian Aboriginal languages. Australia’s hearing-impaired community uses Australian Deaf Sign Language.
Language Speakers Only English 15,581,333 Italian 316,895 Greek 252,226 Cantonese 244,553 Arabic 243,662 Mandarin 220,600 Vietnamese 194,863 Spanish 98,001 Filipino + Tagalog 92,331 German 75,634 Hindi 70,011 Macedonian 67,835 Croatian 63,612 Australian Aboriginal Languages 55,705 Korean 54,623 Turkish 53,857 Polish 53,389 Serbian 52,534 French 43,216 Indonesian 42,036 Maltese 36,514 Russian 36,502 Dutch 36,183 Japanese 35,111 Tamil 32,700 Sinhalese 29,055 Samoan 28,525 Portuguese 25,779 Khmer 24,715 Assyrian 23,526 Punjabi 23,164 Persian 22,841 Hungarian 21,565 Bengali 20,223 Urdu 19,288 Afrikaans 16,806 Bosnian 15,743
Many of the people listed there – in fact probably most – would have sufficient to excellent English as well.
Does this look like a country where simplistic notions of “monoculture” could possibly help?
Faced with our actual population the question is how best to maximise the assets these figures represent, how to enable each individual to have the best possible settlement experience, to take a phrase from Philip Ruddock in the previous post, how to maximise the freedom each one has to be fully himself or herself in their new country.
Answer: inclusive multiculturalism, perhaps best expressed under the Keating government thus:
Multiculturalism is a policy based on rights and responsibilities which has been endorsed by Australian governments for managing a unified nation which is culturally diverse. The policy of multiculturalism replaced the previous policy of assimilation.
There are important overriding principles of multiculturalism which can be summarised in the following way:
· LOYALTY TO AUSTRALIA: all Australians should have an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia’s interests and future first and foremost;
· ACCEPTANCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN SYSTEM: all Australians are required to accept the basic structures and principles of Australian society—the Constitution, Australian laws, tolerance, equality, democracy, freedom of speech and religion, English as the national language and equality of the sexes; and
· MUTUAL RESPECT: all Australians have the right to express their culture and beliefs and this involves a reciprocal responsibility to accept the right of others to express their beliefs and values.
Multiculturalism is about inclusion and recognition within the principles enshrined above. It recognises the right of all Australians to enjoy their cultural heritage (including language and religion), and the right to equal treatment and opportunities for everyone regardless of their backgrounds. Multiculturalism also aims to ensure maximum use of the skills and talents of all Australians to assist economic efficiency.
Now honestly: what’s not to like about that formulation? Even Philip Ruddock, Howard’s Immigration Minister, seems to be conceding the point about language – scrapped by his government – when interviewed on the occasion of SBS’s birthday. Again, see the video on the previous post.
Muslim crime in Australia: a sense of proportion
But how many? There are around 500,000 Muslims in Australia. How many fall into either undesirable activity? 1%? 10%?
You work it out… My guess would be LESS THAN 1%.
Then try googling afghan crime australia or iranian crime australia or iraqi crime australia or indonesian crime australia. You’ll be disappointed.
To be continued. I soon realised summarising would take more than one post.