are in the MOST Phase I website (1994-2003).
The MOST Phase II website is available at: www.unesco.org/shs/most.
Australia is generally seen as one of the 'classical countries of immigration'. Nation-building following British colonisation in 1788 meant the destruction of Aboriginal societies, and the construction of a new nation based on immigration. The earliest settlers were convicts, soldiers and colonial administrators, followed by free settlers, encouraged by the British state. The mid-19th century goldrushes led to greatly increased immigration: mainly from Britain, but also from the rest of Europe and the USA. The first large group of non-European workers came from China and later the Pacific Islands. Anti-Asian campaigns led to the Immigration Restriction Act (the 'White Australia policy') of 1901.
After the Second World War, an immigration program was introduced to increase the population and boost economic strength. The aim was to bring in mainly British immigrants, but in fact a growing proportion came from Eastern and Northern Europe, and then from Southern Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. After an interruption during the recession of the early 1970s, new currents of immigration from Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and New Zealand developed. The overall picture has been of a planned policy of permanent immigration, with control facilitated by Australia's isolated geographical position. Migration has nonetheless had unforeseen consequences: the ethnic composition of migrant intakes has changed in a way that was neither predicted nor desired by the architects of the migration program. This has been partly because the need for labour during expansionary phases has dictated changes in recruitment policies. It has also been due to the way chain migration has led to self-sustaining migratory processes. The main result of the increase in ethnic diversity has been a move away from a narrow mono-cultural identity, to a new concept based on multiculturalism, which was officially introduced as a policy in the early 1970s.
The concept of being a 'nation of immigrants' is at the centre of Australian identity. The Australian population increased from about 7.5 million in 1947 to 17.8 million people in 1994, with at least half the growth being due to immigration. Indigenous people today make up less than 2 per cent of total population. Immigrants account for 23 per cent, while Australian-born people with at least one overseas-born parent make up a further 20 per cent. Over two fifths of the Australian population are first or second generation immigrants, while most of the rest can trace their origins back to earlier immigration. In metropolitan areas like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth over half the population are of first of second generation immigrant background.
Until 1947, most immigrants came from Britain. Since then, the majority of immigrants have come from different cultural backgrounds. In the last ten years, over half of new immigrants have come from Asia. In discussions on the situation of immigrants in Australia it is customary to distinguish between English-speaking background (ESB) immigrants (from Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the USA) and non-English-speaking background (NESB) immigrants (from other countries). The policy of multiculturalism is concerned with the position of NESB immigrants in Australian society, as well as with the question of Australian identity in a changing international context.
Australian society has undergone dramatic change since the 1970s, and immigration and growing ethnocultural diversity has been both a cause and a result of this.
C. Migratory Movements
Altogether 5.4 million immigrants have come to Australia since 1945 and about one million people have emigrated from Australia (including former immigrants). (1) Policies have traditionally been based primarily on immigration of people expected to become permanent settlers and eventually citizens. Migratory waves have generally started with young economically active persons, who have later been joined by their families, or who have established new families in Australia. Since 1945, refugee entries have also played an important part. Refugees also have full rights of family reunification, so that such entries also start migratory chains. In recent years the number of temporary entrants has also grown. These are made up of students and trainees, as well as temporary workers with special skills. Illegal entrants or visa-overstayers are not very large categories in Australia. Emigration is also of increasing importance, with many young Australians going to work overseas for a period to gain professional experience.
(1) Permanent Immigration
In the ten years from 1984-85 to 1993-94 Australia had a net permanent migration gain of 825,000 persons (BIMPR 1995A, p. 36). (3) Net gain was 48,000 in 1992-93; 42,000 in 1993-94; but increased to 60,000 in 1994-95 (BIMPR 1995B, p. 27).
Appendix Table 1 and Chart 1 shows the breakdown of settlers arrivals by category.
(2) The Migration Program
Family Migration, which has two categories:
Overall, the Family component accounts for the largest share in arrivals. For instance it made up 56 per cent of all settler arrivals in 1993-94, and 51 per cent in 1994-95. (See Appendix Table 1 for detailed figures.) However, it is important to realise that people who enter through family migration have the right to enter the labour market, and frequently do. Since their labour market capabilities are not tested prior to entry, they frequently end up in lower-skilled types of work.
Skill Migration, which is divided into a number of categories:
Skill migration makes up between a quarter and a third of the total intake. For instance the figure was 26 per cent in 1993-94 and 35 per cent in 1994-95. It is this component which is most likely to decline in times of recession, either through cuts in immigration quotas, or because potential entrants are deterred by labour market conditions. Obviously, economic migration generates future family migration.
(3) The Humanitarian Program
The Refugee Program for people outside their country and fleeing persecution, generally selected according to UNHCR criteria. The main group have been Indo-Chinese refugees from camps in Southeast Asia. There are special provisions for 'women at risk'.
The Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) for people who are not refugees according to UNHCR criteria, but who have suffered gross violation of their human rights (such as political prisoners or members of ethnic minorities in certain Central American countries). It also includes a number of people granted refugee status when already in Australia on temporary entry permits.
The Special Assistance Category (SAC) for people in vulnerable situations who have the support of relatives or community groups in Australia. This category has grown in the last few years through admission of people fleeing war and persecution in former Yugoslavia.
Refugees have been an important part of Australian immigration history. The two major refugee waves were Eastern Europeans in the late 1940s and Indo-Chinese in the second half of the 1970s. Other notable flows include: refugees from the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968; Lebanese refugees in 1976-78; and Poles in the early '80s. In addition to these movements, smaller numbers of refugees sought settlement in Australia following political turmoil in places such as Chile, El Salvador, East Timor, Iran, Iraq, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and, more recently, former Yugoslavia. The number of refugees admitted to Australia has been at a fairly constant level of about 12,000 per year since the mid-1980s.
In the mid-1970s, the arrival of Indo-Chinese refugee boats on the northern shores of Australia played a major role in persuading the Australian Government to participate in international resettlement efforts. Entry of Indo-Chinese refugees, in turn, was to be the first large-scale entry of non-Europeans to Australia, and played a significant part in changing the ethnic composition of the population. In recent years, a number of boats have again arrived with people claiming political asylum. The Government has been very wary about granting permanent residence for fear of attracting further inflows of boat-people. Asylum-seekers have been detained for long periods in camps, often in remote areas. Human rights groups have claimed that treatment of asylum-seekers has violated international standards. Of the 1992 boat-people who arrived from 1989 to 1995, 1176 have since left Australia, while 503 have gained permanent residence (DIEA 1996). The remainder are presumably still awaiting decisions.
In 1994-95, there were 4789 applications for protection visas (covering 7369 people) from persons already in Australia. Of these, 986 cases (covering 1400 people) were approved.
(4) Source Countries
(6) Skill Levels
(7) Illegal immigrants
(8) Temporary entrants
In 1994-95 there were 151,095 long-term temporary arrivals in Australia compared with 114,711 in 1990-91. Of the 1994-95 arrivals, 79,063 were classified as temporary residents and 72,032 as visitors. The former include high-level executives, specialists, entertainers, sports persons, academics and working holiday makers. There are also increasing numbers of students: the number grew from 65,500 in 1991-92 to 87,000 in 1993-94.
Overall, Asia is an increasing source of the temporary entry of workers, students or tourists: Asians comprise more than half of Australia's long-term overseas visitors and 38 per cent of Australia's short-term visitor or tourist arrivals, up from less than 10 per cent in 1966 (Kee Pookong et al. 1993, pp. 10-12). The number of overseas students in Australia increased by 200 per cent between 1986 and 1990, with Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore the main sources of Australia's full-fee paying overseas tertiary students who generate an income of $500 million per year (BIPR 1993). Most temporary residents come from the UK and Ireland, Japan, the USA and Canada. They are often executives of multinational corporations who are temporarily appointed to the Australian subsidiary.
There is a certain slippage from temporary into permanent immigration, through the possibility of applying for transfer to permanent status, but we have been unable to find data on this.
D. Policies on Migration and Multiculturalism (4)
Immigration levels are decided upon annually by the Federal Government, after consultation with employers, unions and a variety of other interest groups. The main determinants are the economic situation, the need for particular types of skilled labour, humanitarian considerations, and the desire of ethnic communities for family reunion. There is frequent public discussion and controversy on immigration, with environmental groups arguing against high levels. Opposition based on desires for cultural homogeneity or hostility towards non-Europeans also still exists. Nonetheless, all major parties in Australia support broadly similar immigration policies, except for the Australian Democrats who favour 'zero net immigration'.
Program implementation is the responsibility of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (DIEA), which has Immigration Offices in some Australian embassies and consulates abroad. (5) The DIEA also has offices in many Australian cities, with responsibility for immigration matters and welfare services for immigrants. Prospective immigrants (up to one million a year) apply to Australian consulates, where they may be interviewed by Immigration Officers. Medical and occupational tests may also take place. The Points Test, used for several categories, is based on a model developed in Canada, and was first introduced in 1973. In the current version, points are awarded for work skills, age, language skills, and family relationships with residents or citizens of Australia. The Points System is complex and hard to apply fairly. It is not discriminatory on racial, ethnic, religious or political criteria, but it does discriminate in favour of young, economically productive people who have been able to receive a good education. It tends to select either people from highly-developed countries or an elite from less-developed countries, thus encouraging the 'brain drain'.
Since 1947, Australia has had very high levels of immigration relative to population size. This has thrown up considerable dilemmas for public policy, with regard to social services, incorporation of newcomers into society, and the consequences for culture and national identity. In social policy, the Australian state has taken an interventionist approach ever since the colonial period, providing special services for newly-arrived settlers, such as accommodation, orientation courses, help in finding work, English-language courses, and interpreting and translating services. Such measures are coordinated by the DIEA, with support from other Federal and state government departments. Immigrants also have access to a wide range of general social services, connected with health, employment, welfare and education. However, there have been some restrictions in recent years: newly-arrived immigrants are now excluded from unemployment benefits and some types of social security payments for the first six months after arrival. The Federal Opposition has announced that it will extend this waiting period to two years, if elected. Most immigrants also have to pay for English-language courses provided by the Adult Migrant Education Service.
As for the longer-term impact on society, until the early 1970s, the policy was one of assimilation: immigrants could quickly become Australian citizens (the waiting period is now only two years), and were expected to adapt to the Australian way of life as individuals. This policy failed, because trends to labour market segmentation and residential segregation led to a situation of relative separation from mainstream society for many immigrants. The result was ethnic community formation, with members of national groups living together, using their own languages, and establishing associations and economic infrastructure. Since about 1973, successive governments have pursued policies of multiculturalism, which recognise the legitimacy of a multiplicity of cultures within one Australian society.
Multiculturalism is now seen as a key element of Australian identity, and a decisive break with Australia's colonialist and racist past. The 'productive diversity' that arises from being a nation of many peoples is an important asset in attempts to improve links with the rest of the world, particularly the Asia-Pacific region. Multicultural principles and policies were laid down in the Federal Government's statement of 1989, The National Agenda for a Multicultural Australia. They were reassured most recently in a policy statement released by the Prime Minister in January 1996. The main agency concerned with monitoring these policies is the Office of Multicultural Affairs within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Similar bodies exist in several states, while multicultural agencies of various kinds are to be found within major service delivery departments in the fields of health, employment, education etc.
E. Social and Political Effects of Migration
There is no doubt that immigration has been one of the major factors shaping Australian society since 1788, and in particular since 1947. Immigration has contributed to a rapid increase in population, to significant structural changes in the economy, to alterations in the use of urban and rural space, and to a shift from an almost monocultural society to a highly diverse one. It is impossible to describe these changes in detail here. Rather we will mention some of the more controversial aspects of immigration in the next section.
F. Key Problem Areas
However, this does not mean that immigration is always unproblematic at the micro-economic level. Entry of certain types of immigrants into certain markets can have negative effects for some competing groups: for instance wages for certain types of work may be held back, or housing costs in certain areas may increase. Moreover, the immigrants themselves suffer various forms of economic disadvantage. For instance some professionals find themselves unable to work in their occupations due to failure to recognise their qualifications. Average unemployment rates for immigrants are above the national average, while certain groups of immigrants (eg. Vietnamese and Lebanese) have very high rates. Women immigrant workers suffer particular forms of disadvantage and are often employed at very low wages (for instance doing outwork, ie. working at home in garment production etc). There is still considerable need for research on such issues.
Another important area for study is ethnic entrepreneurship. Small business is one of the most dynamic sectors of the Australian economy, especially in terms of job creation. Immigrants escape from low-status work by setting up businesses, but these often fail, or only survive through low incomes and poor conditions for those involved in them. Research on conditions for success and ways of supporting ethnic small business would be valuable.
(3) Culture and Identity
G. Existing Research Capabilities
Research into immigration and its effects on society is carried out and funded by special government agencies, as well as by universities. Many research projects are a result of cooperation between government and universities. There is little privately-funded research in Australia, due to an absence of private foundations of the type to be found in the USA or Japan.
(1) The Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research (BIMPR)
(2) Government Departments and Agencies
(3) University Research Centres
All the university research centres are finding it very hard to survive as constraints on university finance makes it hard to obtain core funding. Most of the centres now function with very few or no full-time staff, simply coordinating research activities of academics who teach in other departments. Paradoxically, the existence of the BIMPR as a central body for research in this area since 1989 appears to have made it harder for university centres to secure reliable funding. (7)
(4) Other University Research
(5) Private consultants
H. The State of Research
Immigration and cultural diversity has long been an important topic for the social sciences in Australia, which is not surprising in view of the centrality of immigration in the development of society and national identity. As the preceding section implies, there is a very large body of data and research on such topics.
High-quality statistical data is readily available on most topics. Regular general data is provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on the basis of the five-yearly census as well as labour market and other surveys. Figures are usually broken down by birthplace, allowing comparative work on immigrants. However, data on the second generation is sometimes hard to come by. The BIMPR provides a wealth of specific data, based on special analyses of ABS data, its own longitudinal survey and a variety of other surveys.
Empirical and analytical research findings exist on a great range of themes connected with migration and ethnic relations. No attempt will be made to summarise this here. Although there is no comprehensive bibliography of such work in Australia, Wooden et al. (1994) provide a valuable overview. BIMPR publishes bibliographies on a range of topics. Most people working in the area would agree that some areas have been extensively covered, such as macroeconomic effects of immigration, and issues of migration regulation. Other areas have been less well researched, such as the effects of globalisation on regional migration flows, the development of identity in second generation immigrants, or the emergence of transnational networks among migrants.
I. Key Research Issues for the Next Five Years (national level)
We suggest the following priorities for research within Australia:
Social effects of immigration, according to type of immigration and patterns of settlement.
The participation of ethnic community groups in the settlement process, including issues of community formation and development of social networks.
Educational experience (including language learning) of various ethnic groups.
Relations between various groups in the Australian population, including between immigrant groups and indigenous people.
Racism and discrimination: patterns, causes and strategies to combat these phenomena.
The participation and representation of immigrant and indigenous people in economic and political decision-making.
Cultural and linguistic diversity, the development of multiple and transnational identities, and the consequences for Australian citizenship and identity.
J. Key Research Issues for the Next Five Years (regional and international levels)
We suggest the following priorities for international comparative research:
Studies on patterns of labour migration and refugee movement in the Asia-Pacific region, and emerging trends towards long-term settlement.
The impact of international conflict and crisis on migration.
Legal and social status of immigrants in various countries.
Ways of improving international cooperation in:
- bilateral or multilateral regulation of movements
- social measures for the welfare of migrants and their families.
Links between attitudes towards immigrants and existing ethnic issues in receiving countries.
Relationships between emigration or immigration and the process of economic and societal development in various countries.
The 'migration transition': how has it taken place in various countries and what are its causes and effects?
K. The Australian Migration Research Network
There has been a fair measure of interchange and cooperation between Australian researchers in the field of migration and ethnic relations for many years, although this has been mainly concerned with domestic issues. In the process of putting together the proposal for the UNESCO-MOST APMRN project in 1994-95, an informal group of researchers concerned with international comparative work came together. Following acceptance of the project by UNESCO-MOST, first steps have been taken towards expanding and consolidating this group. The first meeting of the Australian Migration Research Network took place in Sydney in November 1995. It was attended by some 20 colleagues from all over Australia. Most of them have special interests in Asia-Pacific migration research. Since then, further colleagues have expressed their interest. Initially, the aim is to function mainly as an electronic mail network, which will provide information and contacts for researchers. In a later phase, it is hoped to carry out joint research projects, in cooperation with colleagues from other countries in the APMRN. A list of current Australian participants follows.
Table 1: Migration Program Components
**On 1 December 1995, the Government announced that following an unexpected surge in application for Business Skills and close family visas, the program figures for Independent and Concessional Family migrants would be capped at 10 000 and 7 700 places respectively.
***People recognised as refugees within Australia are not included in the above figures.
Source: DIEA (Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs) 1996, Fact Sheet 33: Immigration - Key Statistics Canberra: DIEA
Chart 1: Permanent Arrivals and Departures
Source: BIMPR (Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research) (1995B) Immigration Update, June Quarter 1995 Canberra: AGPS, p 4.
Chart 2: Settlers Arrivals by Eligibility Category
qTotal settler arrivals were 25.3 per cent higher than in 1993-94, bringing the number to 87,428.
qThe visaed categories in total increased by 22.3 per cent compared with 1993-94.
qThe Non-visaed category increased by 41.1 per cent due mainly to the 41.6 per cent increase in settler arrivals who were New Zealand citizens.
qAs a proportion of all settler arrivals in 1994-95, the Skill category increased to 23.1 per cent (up from 18.3 per cent in 1993-94) while the Family and Humanitarian categories decreased to 42.4 and 15.6 per cent respectively.
Source: BIMPR (Bureau of Immigration , Multicultural and Population Research) (1995B) Immigration Update, June Quarter 1995 Canberra, AGPS, p. 8.
Table 2: Settler Arrivals by Region of Birth
Table 3: Settler Arrivals - Top 10 Source Countries of Birth
Source: BIMPR (Bureau of Immigration , Multicultural and Population Research) (1995B) Immigration Update, June Quarter 1995 Canberra, AGPS, pp. 19.
Chart 3: Settlers Arrivals by Eligibility Category and Sex, 1994-95
qFemales comprised 53.3 per cent of all settler arrivals.
qIn the visaed categories females were 59.1 per cent of the Family category but less than half of the Skill and Humanitarian categories (47.7 per cent and 47.8 per cent respectively)
qSome 47.0 per cent of all female settler arrivals in 1994-1995 were in the Family category, as were 37.2 per cent of all male arrivals.
Source: BIMPR (Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research) (1995B) Immigration Update, June Quarter 1995 Canberra: AGPS, p 10.
Table 4: Settler Arrivals by Occupation
Chart 4: Settlers Arrivals by Occupation 1994-95
qIn 1994-95 this measure of skill was 31.2 per cent, up slightly from 30.1 per cent in 1993-94.
qThere were no significant shifts in the occupation mix of settler arrivals in 1994-95 compared with the previous year.
q43.4 per cent of settler arrivals reported an occupation prior to their arrival. Of these, some 34.0 per cent were Professionals, 18.5 per cent were Tradespersons, and 11.4 per cent were Managers and Administrators.
Source: BIMPR (Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research) (1995B) Immigration Update, June Quarter 1995 Canberra: AGPS, p 14.
BIMPR (Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research) 1995B, Immigration Update, June Quarter 1995 Canberra: AGPS.
BIPR (Bureau of Immigration and Population Research) 1993, 'Asia Pacific migration to Australia' BIPR Bulletin No. 10, p. 53.
DIEA (Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs) 1996, Fact Sheet 33: Immigration - Key Statistics Canberra, DIEA.
HREOC (Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission) 1991, Report of the National Inquiry into Racist Violence Canberra, AGPS.
Kee, Pookong, Shu, Jing, Dang, Trevor & Khoo, Siew-Ean 1993, 'People movements between Australia and Asian-Pacific nations: trends, issues and prospects', paper to the Conference on Asia-Pacific Migration Affecting Australia, Darwin, 14-17 September, 1993.
NMAC (National Multicultural Advisory Council) 1995, Multicultural Australia: the Next Steps, Towards and Beyond 2000 two volumes, Canberra, AGPS.
Sloan, J. & Kennedy, S. 1992, Temporary Movements of People To And From Australia Canberra, AGPS.
Wooden, M., Holton, R., Hugo, G. & Sloan, J. 1994, Australian Immigration: A Survey of the Issues (second edition) Canberra, AGPS.
1. Unless otherwise stated, statistics given in this paper are based on figures issued by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, or the Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research. Exact sources will not be given for all figures. See the Appendix for more detailed statistics.
4. Since this paper was prepared for the March 1996 Meeting of APMRN, there has been a change of government in Australia. The Liberal-National Party Coalition which came to power in March 1996 has made many changes to policies and institutional structures. These will not be dealt with in detail here.
6. BIMPR was abolished in July 1996, leading to a considerable reduction in Australias migration research capacity. DIMA has a Research and Statistics Branch, but this has a small staff and very little funding for research work.
7. Cuts in government funding for migration research since March 1996 have made things even harder for university research centres. Most still exist on paper, but have little funding and have had to cut staff numbers.
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