‘Almost unprecedented’ spike in number of Australians who see racism as a problem, survey finds

Of note:

Australians are increasingly aware that racism is a problem in their country, while positive sentiment about immigration and multiculturalism has also increased over the past 12 months, according to an authoritative survey on social cohesion.

The annual Mapping Social Cohesion Report from the Scanlon Foundation Research Institute, released on Tuesday, has charted a 20 percentage point increase in 12 months in response to the question “How big a problem is racism in Australia?”

Back in 2020, 40% of respondents thought racism in Australia was either a very big or fairly big problem. But in the 2021 survey of 3,572 respondents, 60% held that view.

The survey authors note “an increase of 20 percentage points in response to a general question of this nature is almost unprecedented in the Scanlon Foundation surveys”, which have been conducted annually since 2007. But they say there is no clear trigger or cultural catalyst explaining such a large shift.

The research suggests Australians were also more enthusiastic during the period of pandemic-induced international border closure about the contribution migrants make to the economy, with 86% of the sample agreeing with the proposition “immigrants are generally good for Australia’s economy” (compared with 76% in 2019, the year before Covid-19 hit).

Similarly, 86% of respondents agreed “multiculturalism has been good for Australia” compared with 80% agreeing with that proposition in 2019. A super-majority (90% – the highest affirmation in the survey) also endorsed the importance of the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the wider Australian community.

Source: ‘Almost unprecedented’ spike in number of Australians who see racism as a problem, survey finds

Toughing out Covid: how Australia’s social fabric held together during a once-in-a-century crisis

Interesting take. Generally, the Scanlon Foundations public opinion research is similar to that carried out in Canada by Environics, and thus tends to highlight some of the similarities that are lost in political discourse and debate:

Politics, and media coverage of politics, is powered by conflict and spectacle. But the social scientist Andrew Markus wants to focus on something quieter: the resilience and optimism of Australians during a crisis; a country under duress that chose not to fracture.

Markus is the principal researcher on the Scanlon Foundation’s annual Social Cohesion report – a project that has mapped a migrant nation since 2007. The report published on Thursday is a snapshot of a country managing a once-in-a-century crisis.

The research (sample size 3,090 respondents) is normally conducted in July. Given Australia was at that time about to tip into a second wave of coronavirus infections in Victoria, and had slipped into the first recession for 30 years, the Monash University emeritus professor was puzzled when many of the snapshots of community sentiment were positive.

That seemed counterintuitive.

To be certain of the findings, a second survey of 2,793 respondents was conducted in November. “In November, we again got very positive data,” he says. By positive data, this is what Markus means. Stepping through his findings, a supermajority was on board with Scott Morrison’s response to the crisis, and the level of trust in government in Australia hit the highest point in the history of the survey.

People had confidence in the public health response. More than 90% of respondents in the five mainland states said lockdowns to suppress transmission were definitely or probably required. While the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, endured a period of being flogged by the Murdoch media for locking down the state, 78% of respondents backed Andrews, and when they were asked whether the lockdown was required, 87% said yes.

While America and Britain battled resurgent nativism, the inward turn triggered by the global financial crisis of a decade ago, Australians, walled in behind a preemptive international border closure, and marooned periodically behind hard state borders, continued to look to the world.

Source: Toughing out Covid: how Australia’s social fabric held together during a once-in-a-century crisis

Negative attitudes about Muslims in Australia remain high, survey finds

Good overview of the Scanlon Foundations latest annual survey:

The vast majority of Australians agree multiculturalism has been good for Australia, but a significant minority still express negativity towards Muslims, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The findings come in the 12th annual Scanlon Foundation report into social cohesion which also found a major increase in the percentage of people concerned about climate change.

The 2019 Mapping Social Cohesion survey, an annual report produced by Monash University researchers, shows support for multiculturalism remains high at 85 per cent, and over 90 per cent of respondents also said they feel a sense of belonging in Australia.

But despite the optimism about multiculturalism, ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ attitudes towards Muslims remain high with a stark contrast between respondents who were interviewed over the phone and those who self-completed an online survey.

When people were asked about negative attitudes towards different faith groups, 21 to 25 per cent of those interviewed said they held negative views about Muslims, but the rate in the self-completion survey was almost double at 40 per cent.

In 2018, asked whether they felt positive, negative or neutral towards Muslims, 23 per cent of those polled said they felt ‘very negative’ or ‘somewhat negative’, increasing to 39 per cent when answering anonymously. Results were similar in 2017.

Professor Andrew Markus from Monash University in Melbourne is the report’s author.

“The finding on Muslim Australians and that big difference was not a surprise the first time we did it. But we have now done it three times at 2017, 2018, 2019 and basically obtained the same result. So that level of difference is quite unusual,” he told SBS News.

“If I look at the self-completion survey for the other groups, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, it’s in the range of five to 10 per cent … but the Muslim figure is four times that level at 40 per cent.”

There were a total of 3,500 respondents to the survey – 1,500 via telephone interviews and 2,000 via the self-completion survey, which asks some 90 questions. All participants are anonymous.

Professor Markus said the result around attitudes towards Muslims indicated an underlying concern with some topics that people are reluctant to disclose if they are talking to an interviewer.

Increasing rates of discrimination

On the question ‘have you experienced discrimination over the last 12 months on the basis of your skin colour, ethnicity or religion?’ rates have consistently increased since the first survey in 2007 from about 10 per cent to 19 per cent in more recent surveys.

People who identify as Muslim or Hindu reported much higher rates of discrimination at 42 per cent for Muslims and 38 per cent for Hindus.

Between 2006 and 2016, the number of people identifying as Muslim in Australia increased from 340,400 to 604,200.

Mohammad Al-Khafaji, CEO of the Federation of The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, said anti-Muslim sentiment is an issue the government needs to address.

“That should be a warning sign for all of us, and especially for our political leaders, to make sure that we address this issue before it becomes a bigger problem,” he said.

“We know that there was a recent study released by the Islamophobia Register that has quantified some of those complaints and some of those attacks on people from Muslim backgrounds.

“We need to make sure that there are policies and social cohesion programs in place that facilitate a meeting between people so they understand each other’s differences, each other’s faiths, each other’s cultures.”

Climate change concern almost doubles

Since 2011, the survey has also sought to determine the issues that are of greatest concern in the community, asking the open-ended question: ‘What do you think is the most important problem facing Australia today?’

While concerns about the economy and unemployment have consistently topped the list, concern about environmental issues was the biggest change recorded from one year to the next, up from 10 per cent to 19 per cent in the telephone administered survey and from five per cent to 17 per cent in the self-completion survey.

Professor Markus said the movement of an issue from quite far down in the middle of the list to ranking second is unusual in the history of the survey.

He added other findings also highlight changing public perceptions about environmental issues.

“In the past, 2010 to 2011, there were a lot of people indicating that what they were concerned about was that people talking about climate change was overblown. There was too much of it, they didn’t believe it, they were sceptical,” he said.

“And 2019, almost no one is indicating that they are concerned because the issue is being overblown.”

Nearly half of those aged 18-24 reported being the most concerned about climate change, with much smaller rates seen in those over 65.


Immigration good for the economy

Professor Markus said the survey shows high, positive results on questions about the economic benefits of immigration and whether it is good that immigrants bring new ideas and cultures, with between 75 and 85 per cent agreeing it’s a good thing for Australia to have immigration.

But, he said, the results are less favourable on other immigration-related issues.

“When we ask people ‘do you think that the government is managing population growth well and are you concerned that immigration has got an impact of quality of life on overcrowding, on house prices, on the environment?’ … What we’re picking up is in the self-completion survey is 60 per cent or more of people are indicating concern,” he said.

The survey found concern about the level of immigration marginally declined from 43 per cent in 2018 to 41 per cent this year, with 53 per cent saying the intake is about right or too low.

The Scanlon Foundation said less concern about immigration levels has been found in three other 2019 surveys with a similarly worded question, including a Lowy Institute poll finding those of the view that the intake was ‘too high’ fell from 54 per cent in 2018 to 47 per cent this year.

Hass Dellal, the executive director of the Multicultural Foundation and the chairman of SBS, said the discussion around immigration had become better informed.

“I think there has been some excellent research, particularly the Deloitte one with SBSwhere we actually showed the economic benefits of social cohesion. I think people get a better understanding of the values of not only the economic contributions and factors around immigration but also the benefits into social cohesion,” he said.

“A lot of the media are now being able to tell the stories of families and narratives of migrants and the contributions they make. I think there is a much more informed sense of understanding of immigration and I think that helps with that acceptance.”

On the issue of happiness, 84 per cent of respondents said they had been ‘very happy’ or ‘happy’ over the past year, but there has been a steady increase in levels of pessimism since the survey began with youngest people reporting the highest rates, increasing 10 per cent since 2007.

Source: Negative attitudes about Muslims in Australia remain high, survey finds

Report: View report

It’s the climate, not immigration, that keeps Australians awake at night

Good detailed report on the latest annual survey by the Scanlon Foundation, showing some similarities with Canadian public opinion and divisions:

Something happened in 2017. Australia is second only to Canada in welcoming immigration on a large scale. Our faith in the benefits of accepting newcomers of all faiths and races is rock solid. But a couple of years ago we began to grow impatient about the government’s management of the immigration program, impatient in particular about overcrowding in our cities.

This is the verdict of the Scanlon Foundation’s 2019 Mapping Social Cohesion report, published on Tuesday. The mission of the foundation for the past decade or so has been to measure how this migrant nation hangs together. In that time an extraordinary 50,000 of us have been polled to track the hopes and fears that sweep Australia – and not just about immigration.

The author of the reports, Prof Andrew Markus of Monash University, finds most Australians now share “an underlying concern about the government not properly managing the situation – the impact on overcrowding, house prices, environment”.

But in 2019 Markus fears impatience with government management might imperil majority support for Australia’s immigration program. “This has not yet occurred, but the potential is evident.”

We are not Europe. Asked every year to name the most important problem facing their countries, Europeans have lately nominated immigration. “It’s sort of cooled down a bit now,” says Markus, “but even to the present day when people are asked what’s the main issue for the EU, they still nominate controlling population movement and immigration.”

Not in Australia. We always put the economy at the top of the list. Immigration came in fourth in 2019, nominated by 6% of us. In second place on the list, after an abrupt rise, is the environment and climate change.

Source: It’s the climate, not immigration, that keeps Australians awake at night

Australians do not want any more migrants: ANU poll

The annual Scanlon Mapping Social Cohesion Surveys provides a more nuanced of immigration related public opinion, but still showing 43 percent believing the number of immigrants is too high:

Support among Australians for a growing population is crumbling amid fears of overcrowded cities and homes priced out of the reach of ordinary people, a new survey by the Australian National University has revealed.

As both the Morrison government and Shorten opposition consider their own approaches to population policy in the run-up to this year’s election, the ANU poll found just three out of 10 Australians believe the nation needs more people.

A similar poll conducted in 2010 found support for a growing population at 45 per cent.

The 15 percentage point fall was driven by a huge drop in support among male voters who in 2010 showed majority support for a bigger Australia. Male support has now fallen to 38.4 per cent.

In 2010, 38.5 per cent of female voters backed a growing population but this has now fallen to 28.2 per cent.

Over the past year, the nation’s population has grown by 390,500 of which 61 per cent was from net overseas migration.

But with growing public concern about Australia’s immigration intake, the government is considering a reduction in the current cap of 190,000. The planned intake for the 2019-20 financial year, to be set in the April budget, is expected to be closer to 160,000.

Already, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled a reduction in the number of migrants brought into the country, saying he had heard “loud and clear” that city roads were clogged, “the buses and trains are full”.

It appears much of the drop in support for more Australians has been driven by issues in our major cities which have largely absorbed the 2.5 million increase in the nation’s population since 2010.

Almost nine out of 10 surveyed agreed that the high cost of housing was a reason to limit Australia’s population growth. Eighty-five per cent also believed the nation’s cities were over-crowded and there was too much traffic.

Another concern among those surveyed was around labour shortages.

About 90 per cent of those quizzed agreed that Australia should “train our own skilled people, not take them from other countries”.

Lead researcher Nicholas Biddle said with two-thirds of Australians believing the country has enough residents, the lived experience of many people was influencing their view towards immigration.

“Australians are more likely to support population growth if it increases our skills base, mitigates the impacts of an ageing population and increase our economic prosperity,” Associate Professor Biddle said.

“But they do not want population growth to cause crowding, affordability or job security issues nor at the expense of our natural environment.”

The poll was conducted late last year, just as house prices were falling in most major capital cities with Sydney property down by more than 11 per cent.

The poll is at odds with an Ipsos poll taken in October last year for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age which showed 52 per cent of respondents backing the idea of keeping or increasing the number of immigrants. Forty-five per cent supported a reduction in the nation’s migrant intake.

Responding to the ANU poll, Coalition voters were the least likely to support a higher population while Greens voters were the most open to the idea, but even amongst them support was less than 50 per cent.

People aged between 25 and 34 showed the highest support for more Australians, at more than 41 per cent. The lowest support was among people aged between 45 and 54, at less than 25 per cent.

The survey also found large differences based on ethnic background.

Just a quarter of Australian-born people supported a larger population, almost half the rate of those born in a non-English speaking country. Just under 40 per cent of those from an English-speaking nation backed a larger population.

The government is considering a way to encourage immigrants to live in rural and regional areas, with some country towns crying out for skilled workers. The poll showed this was more popular among urban Australians than those living in areas that would be home to new residents.

Support among Coalition and Greens voters for the policy was about 75 per cent but among Labor voters it was 10 percentage points lower.

Professor Biddle said while the survey showed growing opposition to migration, those quizzed were not driven by cultural issues.

He said there was substantially more support for migration on the grounds of broadening Australia’s cultural diversity, almost double the rate for those who believed the nation was already too culturally diverse.

According to Professor Biddle,  Australians had a series of serious concerns about a growing population.

“Australians need to be convinced that traffic and house prices won’t increase unduly, that there will be limited effects on the environment, and that Australia’s existing workforce will still receive adequate training,” he said.

Source: Australians do not want any more migrants: ANU poll

Politicians may be panicking about immigration. Australians are not

Good summary of the latest Scanlon Foundation report and the point about how important perceptions are regarding how well immigration is managed particularly relevant to Canada:

Australia has not lost faith in immigration. The political narrative has darkened but not the fundamental view of ourselves as an immigrant nation. Most of us remain convinced that we are in so many ways better off for newcomers of all races and creeds who have come in large numbers to our shores.

That is the verdict of the Scanlon Foundation’s 2018 Mapping Social Cohesion Report published on Tuesday. The mission of the foundation is to measure how this migrant nation hangs together. Over the last decade 48,000 of us have been polled to fathom the panics that sweep this country and the steady underlying views Australians have of immigration.

“Immigration is a growing concern,” says the author of the report Professor Andrew Markus of Monash University. “But for media commentators and some politicians it has become an obsession. They are in the business of creating heightened concern, of crisis. But what the survey shows is rather a picture of stability.”

Markus is one of Australia’s leading authorities on the politics of race. This is the 11th report he has written for the Scanlon Foundation. Year in year out his reports show about 80% of us believe immigrants are “generally good” for Australia’s economy and that ours is a better society for the “new ideas and cultures” that immigrants bring to this country. Support for multiculturalism in 2018 stands almost as high as ever at 85%.

“A number of international surveys that look at Australia, America, Canada, a range of European countries from eastern Europe to western Europe, and also countries in other parts of the world, have a consistent finding that on attitudes to immigration and cultural diversity, Australia is within the top 10% of countries which are open to and welcoming of immigration,” says Markus

A glance at the Scanlan report 2018

Putting into perspective the renewed political contest over immigration is the underlying purpose of the latest Scanlon report. This year Fraser Anning called for a return to White Australia; the notion of exiling new migrantsfrom Sydney and Melbourne was seriously debated; and political leaders in all parties called for cuts – sometimes savage – to immigration numbers.

“Politicians present their views on immigration as if they are speaking for the nation,” cautions Markus. “The reality is that their words are directed to that segment of voters in marginal electorates that supports their party, or that may be attracted to their party, or may be lost to their party.”

Rising concern about numbers was a particular focus of this year’s report. This has kicked up significantly in the last few years. In 2016 only a third of Australians believed the migrant intake was too high. Now 43% of us are worried.

In the past, concern about numbers has moved up and down in lockstep with employment figures. Not this time. And the Scanlon pollsters set out to identify what was driving fresh fears in 2018.

“The program itself is something that’s marketable, something that finds a receptive audience,” says Markus. “But there’s a growing concern – still a minority position, but growing concern – that the immigration program is not being well managed.

“This is linked to people’s perceptions of overcrowding, public transport, housing costs, and so on. These issues are much more complex than just immigration intake. That’s what we’re picking up. That’s a risk for Australia going forward.”

Our rising national anxiety about numbers has been measured by a number of pollsters. Lowy, Essential and Newspoll all found a majority wish for the intake to be cut. Ipsos and Scanlon reckon the balance is slightly the other way with 52% of us for keeping – or even increasing – the number of migrants we take.


This picture of a country divided but still open to mass immigration comes with a fundamental caveat: the boats have stopped.

“I think that John Howard was very successful in that mantra of ‘we control who comes into this country’,” says Markus. “That clearly resonates very strongly. Australia maintained its White Australia policy – very strictly controlled – for decades beyond other countries who abandoned theirs quite quickly after the second world war. Australia has stuck to that very religiously.

“I think it’s been established that the policy of stopping the boats, whatever people will understand by that, is a very strong buy-in. People in Australia in large numbers will turn their gaze away from what happens at offshore detention.”

Not published in this year’s Scanlon report but made available to Guardian Australia are figures obtained for the first time showing what the nation thinks of penning refugees on Manus and Nauru. They demolish the idea that Australia has fundamentally changed its mind about the Pacific solution. The best that can be said is that we’re split on the issue.


And Markus’ teams established we hardly give a damn what the world thinks of us for doing what we do to these people.


From the start in 2007, the Scanlon reports have been mapping the dark side of this story. The constituency of those worried about immigration is not small but Markus puts the number of us markedly hostile at only about 10% – though a noisy 10%.

“They paint immigration as somehow transforming Australia, making Australia unrecognisable,” he says. “They see multiculturalism as a threat. Within some of these groups, it gets to the level that they see these activities as treasonous.

“One of the stories that goes around within these circles is that somehow the Australian people were never given a choice. Dangers have been foisted upon the Australian people. Australian people never approved of any of the White Australia policy. You need to have a referendum on that.

“It’s Pauline Hanson’s line, but also far-right groups and it’s been there for decades. What these learned commentators on Australian society seem to miss is that we actually have elections in this country every three years. If people were so upset then they would vote the government out of power and they would vote in One Nation or whoever. We would have Fraser Anning as our minister of immigration if people were so upset.”

Markus found that worries about immigration are uppermost in few of our minds. We are far more worried about the economy, the environment and the poor quality of government. Asked to name the most important problem facing the country today, only 7% of respondents in 2018 picked immigration.

But the figure for One Nation voters was 25%.

Longing for a White Australia has died down over the years but has never died out. Once again the Scanlon report reveals a considerable constituency for keeping new arrivals white and Christian – or at least, not Muslim.

In face-to-face interviews in 2018, 15% of Scanlon respondents agreed it should be possible for immigrants to be rejected simply on the basis of their race or ethnicity. And 18% agreed they could be sorted solely by religion.

As well as conducting 1,500 face-to-face interviews, the teams engaged by the Scanlon Foundation quizzed 2,260 people online, respondents who tend, sitting on their own, to be a little more frank about their negative views.

Online, 22% of us supported sorting immigrants by race and 29% of us for sorting them by religion. These figures mark clear minority positions in modern Australia but they are not insignificant, as the report shows by showing support for the Keep Australia Christian brigade within political parties:


It speaks quite well for religion. But the latest Scanlon Report offers not much evidence that the nation is warming to Islam. The online survey reveals only a tiny fall from 41% of us last year to 39% of us this year who admit to very or somewhat negative attitudes to Muslims.

“It is a notable finding that across the two modes of surveying, and with a different range of questions, discriminatory immigration policy fails to gain support from more than 30% of respondents,” writes Markus. “Nonetheless, the level of negative sentiment towards those of the Muslim faith, and by extension to immigrants from Muslim countries, is a factor of significance in contemporary Australian society.”

Year after year the Scanlon reports have mapped national divisions over race and immigration. The pattern is clear. Whether the issue is the sheer numbers coming to our shores or their colour and creed, much the same rifts appear between young and old, city and country, prosperous and struggling, those with higher education and those who never finished school.

Typical is the breakdown for the Keep Australia White brigade.


“That divide between people who have had the opportunity to go on with their education in a formal way at universities and so on, and those who don’t is a very strong divide,” says Markus. “It’s not something unique to Australia. It would be true certainly of western countries that I’ve looked at.”

Markus admits being stumped by the marked – but still minority – hostility to race and immigration shown by people working in trades. And he is not advancing any easy explanation for the relaxed attitudes of graduates. He believes life on multiracial campuses may have a good deal to do with it. But he places greater weight on study itself.

“Respect for reason is at the heart of a university education,” says Markus. “It’s not what you hear down the pub that goes down. You learn there is a discipline. We arrive at conclusions within a discipline whatever you study. Respect for knowledge and respect for reason is perhaps what drives people away from the camp which embraces delusions and xenophobia.”

Markus is heartened by the victory of Daniel Andrews in Victoria. Commentators and politicians were obsessed throughout the campaign with black crime. The fear is there in the Scanlon figures – a third of Australians generally but 41% of Victorians are afraid of becoming victims of crime – but these fears could not be marshalled to deny Andrews victory.

Though Melbourne is the fastest-growing city in the land with immense pressures on infrastructure, Melburnians aren’t calling for cuts to immigration. “And despite the opposition running hard on black gangs etc, the issue didn’t decide the election,” notes Markus.

More than ever, Melbourne looks like the future of this immigration nation.

Source: Politicians may be panicking about immigration. Australians are not

Less open, less tolerant and more nervous, but Australia remains upbeat about immigration

Best summary of the Scanlon Foundation report, the benchmark annual report on Australian public attitudes:

Australians are less tolerant, less open and more nervous about the world than 10 years ago – but not as much as our politics might suggest. That’s the take-home message from the Scanlon Foundation’s long-running social cohesion study, which for the past decade has tracked our feelings about immigration, multiculturalism and Australian society.

Over the years, our sense of belonging, worth and social justice have all taken a hit. From a benchmark of 100 points in 2007, the social cohesion index now sits at 88 – an equal record low since the survey began. But on many measures, Australia’s commitment to multiculturalism and immigration remains upbeat against the odds.

“The simple message would be yes, we’re much worse than 2007,” says Andrew Markus, the report’s lead author and a professor at Monash University. “I think it’s the contrary message – considering what’s happened over the 10 years and so on, we’re actually surprisingly resilient in terms of our attitudes. Downward trend, but not by a huge margin.”

The decline in social cohesion was spurred largely by a growing rejection of difference and sense of pessimism about the future. In 2007, just 11 per cent of Australians felt their life would get worse over the coming few years – in 2017, that figure was 19 per cent. The number of people who strongly disagree with the idea that immigration makes Australia stronger increased from 8 per cent to 13 per cent.

In the past year alone, the number of people who say immigrants need to change their behaviour rose by five percentage points, while fewer people think Australians should do more to learn about immigrants’ customs. In 2017, 20 per cent of people said they had experienced discrimination because of their ethnicity or religion in the past 12 months, compared to 9 per cent back in 2007.

On the hot-button question of Islam, the proportion of Australians who feel negatively about Muslims is stable at 25 per cent – when asked by a telephone interviewer. But when people complete the survey online by themselves, that figure increases to 41.4 per cent. Positivity toward Muslims was highest in Melbourne (34 per cent) and lowest in Brisbane (24 per cent).

But other indicators tell a different story. The number of people who think immigration is “too high” is consistent at just over a third, while 40 per cent say it’s about right. Another 16 per cent of Australians say our current intake – 190,000 people per year – is too low. For reference, we’re significantly more enthused about immigration than Britain, where 60 per cent think it is too high, but less enamoured than Canada, where it is just 23 per cent.

A huge majority (75 per cent) still agree Australia is “a land of economic opportunity where in the long run, hard work brings a better life”. Financial satisfaction remains high, as does people’s sense of individual happiness and worth. But fewer people feel an acute sense of belonging in Australia, with those saying they belong “to a great extent” declining to 67 per cent from 77 per cent.

The figures lead Professor Markus to conclude we are “much more at risk” of a political upset along the lines of Donald Trump or Brexit. The recent resurgence of One Nation is “not a surprise”, he says, given the rising disaffection with politics. But does that mean more of us are motivated by race and immigration?


“No,” says Professor Markus. “You’ve got an element in our society, and it’s probably growing, but it’s growing at the rate of three, four, five per cent, rather than 30 or 40 per cent.”

The robustness revealed by Scanlon’s annual survey of 1500 Australians is notable given our changing canvas over the past decade. The overseas-born population has grown 37 per cent, with the number of those from China rising 109 per cent, India 176 per cent and the Philippines 74 per cent.

Overall, the percentage of the Australian population that is overseas-born crept up from 25 per cent to 28 per cent. But in the same period, the number of Sydney council areas with majority overseas-born residents rose from one in eight to one in five. In Melbourne, it went from one in 30 to one in nine.

“What that is saying to me is that there’s increasing concentration of the overseas-born population,” Professor Markus says. “You’ve got immigrant communities that are not being integrated in the way that they were in the past. We’ve got a number of risk factors there that are much more significant than they were in 2007.”

Having just smashed through the world record for uninterrupted economic growth, Australia is long overdue for a recession or the type of shock that could see hate and anti-politics boil over.

“We’ve got less money in the bank in terms of the capital we have to deal with a crisis,” says Professor Markus. “In terms of resilience and robustness, and risk factors, they’re there in neon lights. If you have a system which is rudderless, which doesn’t have strong leadership … I do believe that we’re much more at risk. Australia coped quite well with the global financial crisis – could it cope again if there were another similar event?”

via Less open, less tolerant and more nervous, but Australia remains upbeat about immigration

Aussies Say Yes to Multiculturalism, Marriage Equality But No To Politics | PBA

The key findings of the annual Scanlon Foundation report:

The Mapping Social Cohesion report is the annual study tracking Australian attitudes on issues including immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination and political trust and is described as the largest study of its kind with a collective sample of more than 35,000 people since 2007.

Report author Professor Andrew Markus said while Australia was overall a stable and cohesive society, some indicators showed a negative trend.

“There was an expectation that following the victory of the Coalition government in 2013, there would be a significant increase in trust. However, in 2016 only 29 per cent of respondents have a high level of trust in the government, which is 19 per cent lower than in 2009,” Markus said.

The report shows one-third of Australians were politically disengaged with this year’s federal election. Some 34 per cent of survey respondents indicated that they had little or no interest in the election. Among young men aged 18 to 24 years, 23 per cent indicated that they had no interest at all in the election.

Results showed there was also a significant increase in support for change to the system of government – 31 per cent of respondents believed major change was needed, an increase of 8 per cent since 2013.

“One factor influencing disengagement and a lack of trust in the system may be a disconnect between politicians and the public on key topical issues,” Markus said.

Of those surveyed, 83 per cent of respondents supported medical use of marijuana, 80 per cent supported medically approved euthanasia, and 67 per cent supported marriage equality. Reduced reliance on coal for electricity generation was supported by 70 per cent.

The report said the findings also challenged the view that negative attitudes toward Muslim Australians, immigration and multiculturalism were increasing.

“Over the course of the last six surveys, there has been no significant shift in negative opinion towards Muslims, which remains in the range of 22 to 25 per cent,” it said.

Support for multiculturalism has also remained high. The 2016 report found 83 per cent agreed that multiculturalism had been good for Australia.

“There is a positive view of multiculturalism. Most people see multiculturalism as a two-way process of change, involving adaptation from Australian-born and migrants,” Markus said.

Scanlon Foundation CEO Anthea Hancocks said the report provided valuable insight for government, business and the community and those working towards building welcoming, inclusive communities.

The 2016 survey was conducted in July and August, in the weeks immediately after the federal election, and employed a national representative sample of 1,500 respondents.

Hancocks said the findings build on the data collected in eight earlier national surveys, produced in partnership with Monash University and the Australian Multicultural Foundation.

Summary of findings by demographics:

  • Almost a quarter of young males had no interest at all in the federal election, compared to 7 per cent of young women.
  • The biggest predictor of acceptance of immigration and cultural diversity is age, followed by the level of completed education and financial status. Strong rejection of immigration and cultural diversity was around 7 per cent among those aged 18 to 44 years and 4 per cent among those with a bachelor or higher level qualification, compared to 22 per cent of those over 65 years of age and 22 per cent of those whose highest level of education was year 11.
  • A minority of respondents, 26 per cent, opposed marriage equality. Further insight into attitudes to marriage equality by age group shows that of those over 75 years of age, 47 per cent were opposed, 34 per cent aged 65 to 74, and a much lower 17 per cent aged 18 to 24.
  • Support for multiculturalism remains high at 83 per cent, and the strongest positive association of multiculturalism is with its contribution to economic development.
  • Sense of belonging in Australia remains high at 91 per cent, but is lower than the 94 per cent to 96 per cent reported between 2007 and 2012.
  • Just 34 per cent considered that the immigration intake was “too high”, the lowest recorded in the Scanlon Foundation surveys.

Source: Aussies Say Yes to Multiculturalism, Marriage Equality But No To Politics | PBA

Multiculturalism ‘good for Australia’ say 85% of Australians

While the overall patterns are quite similar to Canada’s, one of the major differences is the degree to which our political systems are representative of diversity. In Australia, where 28 per cent of the population is foreign-born, only 9 per cent of MPs are, with only a handful being visible minorities. In Canada, 14 percent of MPs are from visible minorities:

The Scanlon Foundation has been looking at these perceptions over the past decade, and most recent research shows 85 per cent of Australians agree that multiculturalism has been good for the country.

The Scanlon Foundation’s Multiculturalism Discussion Paper has been tracking people’s views across more than a decade of surveys.

Data shows Australians are generally very accepting of cultural diversity and immigration, but the level of support varies across generations, geographical locations and demographic groups.

Research Professor at Monash University Andrew Markus says this report looks in detail at research that’s been going on over the past 30 years.

“There’s very high levels of support. 85 per cent of people think that multiculturalism is good for this country and those sort of high figures, people have been obtaining for 20 or more years but what is particularly interesting in the findings that we’re releasing now is that we look more closely at that proportion who say that it’s been good for Australia – we disaggregate those figures – we try to make sense of those figures in more detail.”

Professor Markus says the research shows current support for immigration is at relatively high levels, compared to 30 or 40 years ago.

“There does seem to be a pattern of greater support for immigration. When it comes to some other issues, such as different ethnic groups, at the level of the data that we have it’s more length of time in Australia and people are more positive towards people who’ve been here for 20 or 30 years and similarly amongst the immigrants themselves, there’s more differentiation among the recent arrivals in terms of the support that they’re looking for from government.”

Centres such as Sydney and Melbourne have the highest level of support for multiculturalism, with younger people also more inclined to be in favour.

But the research not only casts light on external perceptions, it also shows how recent migrants feel about settling in the country.

“What we find when we look at the most recent immigrants is high levels of engagement with Australia but also, and from other research, concerns at the present time about how difficult it is for people to get jobs in the areas they’ve been trained. So there’s certainly some important issues for government in terms of current immigration intake and capacity for people to find the sort of employment that they’re looking for.”

Scanlon Foundation CEO Anthea Hancocks says the paper sets out to explore the complexity of the issue, encourage debate and foster social cohesion.

Ms Hancocks says Australia’s diverse culture is one of the country’s most defining characteristics.

Source: Multiculturalism ‘good for Australia’ say 85% of Australians | SBS News

Australians support immigration and multiculturalism

CIC Tracking - Support for ImmigrationComparable to Canadian levels of support (see chart above):

The study titled 2014s Mapping Social Cohesion report by Scanlon Foundation which surveyed over 24,000 people reported strong public support for immigration intake and the benefits of multiculturalism. ”

Australia’s public sentiment toward immigration intake is possibly the most positive in the western world. In 2014, 58 per cent of people agree that the immigration intake is about right or too low. Just 35 per cent of people consider that the immigration intake is too high,” the Foundation said in a statement.

“This level of public support is somewhat surprising in the context of rising unemployment and other economic concerns, as well as international comparisons,” said report author Andrew Markus of Monash University.

“In 2014, American and European surveys have found disapproval of immigration in the range of 60 to 75 per cent,” he said.

Support for multiculturalism was also high at 85 percent (“been good for Australia”) but discrimination remains an issue with some 18 percent of respondents reporting experience of discrimination.

Australians support immigration and multiculturalism: Study – The Economic Times.