I for Immigration

Given immigration looms so large in our extended family, I felt this was an appropriate topic for the “I” article of Our A – Z of Australia.  The results of the 2011 Census are not yet available, sadly, so I am depending on the 2006 Census data for this look at Australia.

Michel Lawrence spent two years photographing as many people as possible from every different country of the world who now calls Australia home. The result is a celebration of our multicultural diversity. Enjoy!

The statistics from 2006 tell us that 22.2% of the population were born overseas. Add to that the 20% of Australian’s who have at least one parent born overseas.  Of the remaining 58% a lot would have overseas-born grandparents.  This percentage has dropped: in 2001 the percentage of overseas-born was 28.2%. This is a nation of migrants.  Australia has been since Europeans arrived.  Australia’s First People have been here over 60,000 years, Europeans arrived to stay in only 1788.

Since 1945, around 6.5 million people have come to Australia as new settlers, comprising about 3.35 million males and 3.15 million females.  We have more to come.

Kate Lundy, speaking after her appointment to the position of Minister of Multicultural Affairs (emphasis added):

Sixty percent of Australia’s future population growth will come from migration and as a government it is critical that we have strong policy to effectively leverage the strength of our diversity. The elevation of multicultural affairs into the ministry reflects the Gillard Government’s strong commitment to an inclusive Australia.

Read more: http://www.katelundy.com.au/2012/03/02/statement-on-appointment-as-minister/

I quote Chris Bowen, Minister for Immigration, from a speech he gave February 16, 2011.  For once, I agree with him.  Not often I do that!  I encourage you to read the article below in full.

Australian governments do not defend cultural practices and ideas  inconsistent with our values of democracy, justice, equality and tolerance. Nor  should we.

We have tried to instil a sense of belonging in Australia while encouraging  the participation of all people. If values are not articulated, not put into  practice and people do not feel part of society, this can lead to alienation  and, ultimately, social disunity.

It is counter-intuitive to assume that the majority of migrants want to change Australia. Allegations of migrants wanting to come here to convert the populace and turn it into a replica of their homelands ignore the truth: people come to Australia because, to them, Australia represents something better.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/what-makes-multiculturalism-great-is-mutual-respect-20110216-1awik.html#ixzz1o1uVEQEY

Australians come from many different locations around the world.  Can you see your place of birth?  Countries such as Nigeria and Ghana don’t rate a mention in 2006 (below): it will be interesting to see the 2011 figures.

Country of Birth Estimated Resident Population
United Kingdom 1,153,264
New Zealand 476,719
Italy 220,469
People’s Republic of China (Excl SARs and Taiwan Province) 203,143
Vietnam 180,352
India 153,579
Philippines 135,619
Greece 125,849
South Africa 118,816
Germany 114,921
Malaysia 103,947
Netherlands 86,950
Lebanon 86,599
Hong Kong (SAR of China) 76,303
Sri Lanka 70,908
Serbia and Montenegro 68,879
Indonesia 67,952
United States 64,832
Poland 59,221
Fiji 58,815
Ireland 57,338
Croatia 56,540
Singapore 49,819
South Korea 49,141
Malta 48,978
Macedonia 48,577
Iraq 40,400
Egypt 38,782
Turkey 37,556
Canada 33,198
Thailand 32,747
China 31,258
Japan 29,469
Sudan 29,282
Cambodia 28,175
Bosnia and Herzegovina 27,328
Papua New Guinea 26,302
Chile 26,204
Iran 25,659
Hungary 23,065
Russia 21,436
Cyprus 21,149
Zimbabwe 21,142
Afghanistan 21,140
Austria 20,214
France 20,054
Pakistan 19,768
Mauritius 19,375
Samoa 17,822
Portugal 17,382

In other words, we come from a LOT of different places! Therefore we speak a lot of different languages and government departments take care to ensure we all have the opportunity to understand.  Click on the image below to see this in action!

Languages spoken in Australia

Languages spoken in Australia

March 21 is Harmony Day in Australia. In 2012 the theme is sport:

In 2012, the Harmony Day theme Sport – play, engage, inspire recognises the important role and positive influence that sport has in our multicultural nation. Involvement in sport whether as a participant, volunteer, spectator or administrator unites people of all ages and fosters a sense of belonging, acceptance and an understanding of other cultures.

While we are busy creating harmony in Australia, we much ensure the other great “I”, our Indigenous population, is not excluded.  I do not see Indigenous people mentioned nearly enough in the various publications I read about multiculturalism or Harmony Day.

Visit http://myatozchallenge.com/ to find more countries and articles on the A – Z Challenge.

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22 comments on “I for Immigration

  1. Fascinating … and I must say that I hardly see this diversity in what comes out of your country. :Australia is not alone in this though; fairly common around the globe. -)


  2. Wow! That’s 19x more immigrants from Great Britain than from the US ~ surprised me for some reason.


    • Nancy, the USA has Florida and California – Britain doesn’t! 😆 Those figures are from 2006, I do believe we have more USA immigrants now, but we shall have to see when the stats are released from to 2011 Census. USA citizens are notoriously non-travellers – something ike 80% of the US population do not have a passport. I think that figure may have dropped a bit since passports are now needed between the USA and Canada, for example.


      • I wonder if that’s because we’re happy where we are . . . or just lazy? 😆


      • Or you’ve all been brainwashed into beliving the USA is the best country on earth.

        Have I got news for you! 😆

        Australia is also VERY difficult to get into, and harder of late – as we were a British colony, many of those immigrants have been here for a LONG time!It used to be a lot easier for the Brits to get here than people from other places.

        Heavens, when I came here from New Zealand we didn’t even need a passport!


  3. I don’t think that nationality is important. The whole flag and boundary thing is medieval. The human race needs to move away from having nationalities and move towards recognizing that our race boundary is the earth’s atmosphere; there is only one race and it’s the human race. For me there are no nationalities, there are just land masses where rulers and governments have drawn lines around the bit they want to run. It’s daft to think that people can claim a piece of land as belonging to one group of people. It’s like two flies arguing over who owns the cow’s backside they have landed on. As a side issue it’s the first time I’ve commented on your blog, but I’ve been reading it for some time and it’s a brilliant and intelligent blog with some of the best insights into life and humanity that I have been able to glean from the many blogs I read. Thanks.


    • Thank you Richard for your wonderful compliment!

      I actually agree with you. If you look at Nigeria for example, it is a piece of land that the British forced to be a country, bringing together peoples that didn’t necessarily want to be “together” and there has been trouble ever since. Ireland – a piece of it “stolen” and trouble ever since.

      Mind you, the concept of one global government to provide public goods worries me. Religion is a spanner in the works as well, at least currently. How it would work in reality is an interesting question.


  4. I´m part of that last lot on the 2006 list! Certainly very few if you compare to the British. I´m certainly glad to be part of this huge melting pot.


  5. “While we are busy creating harmony in Australia, we much ensure the other great “I”, our Indigenous population, is not excluded. I do not see Indigenous people mentioned nearly enough in the various publications I read about multiculturalism or Harmony Day.”

    These are wise words…

    Australia is indeed one BIG melting pot 🙂


    • Yes, we are, Carole. People forget just how many different ethnicities/cultures are here, I think. There are others, of course, that didn’t have enough numbers to make the list! Not sure what the cut-off number is, really. Maybe 15,000 or thereabouts.

      Thank you for noticing the reference about our Indigenous population. 🙂


  6. Interesting Robyn, us Brits do spread ourselves around!


  7. As I was reading through this I was thinking that Australia has not always treated it’s aboriginal population too well and then I got to the bottom and see you have referred to that too Robyn… excellent post as ever 🙂


    • I had originally wanted this article to be I for Indigenous People, but I really wanted a guest post from an Indigenous person as I don’t feel I could do the topic justice. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t come to fruition.

      As it stands, I chose immigration because it is a very important aspect of Australia and certainly something our family can relate to.

      Thanks for the “Excellent” – I always like those! 😀


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