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Mapping Social Cohesion 2018: Scanlon Foundation

On 4 December 2018, SCoA CEO Nick Tebbey attended the Scanlon Foundation’s launch of its 2018 Mapping Social Cohesion Surveys.

Viewed widely as a most trusted source of the attitudes and experiences of Australians, this long-term survey is now in its twelfth year and aims to collect and analyse the views of Australian society on issues including immigration, multiculturalism, trust in government and broader social concepts.

SCoA is comforted by the positive picture the Survey presents of Australia’s views on multiculturalism and immigration. Australia has a strong track record of successfully settling refugees and migrants and assisting their integration into the broader community. SCoA considers that this success contributes to the continuing high levels of support nationally for multiculturalism which are identified in the Survey. In 2018 that level of support sits at 85%, a clear indication that our country is largely welcoming and supportive of the diverse mixture of cultures it currently enjoys.

Similarly, Australians exhibit strong support for our immigration programme. The Survey notes that while there is a constant theme in popular media discourse expressing concern about the size of Australia’s immigration programme, the majority of Australians hold the view that the rate of immigration is “about right” or “too low” (55% – up seven percentage points on 2017).

SCoA also welcomes the Survey’s findings that the vast majority of Australians continue to hold support for a non-discriminatory migration program with 81% of respondents disagreeing with the notion that it should be possible for a migrant “to be rejected simply on the basis of their race or ethnicity” and 78% being opposed to discrimination on the basis of religion.

However, SCoA is concerned by the reported experiences of discrimination based on skin colour, ethnic origin or religion that has been reported in the Survey. A response rate of 19% demonstrates a steady trend over recent years in the number of Australians who have experienced such discrimination over the past twelve months. Such negativity can have a devastating impact on individuals and impacts the chances of achieving a successful settlement. For this reason, SCoA urges our country’s politicians, who set the tone for mainstream debate, to provide a model of positive non-discriminatory behaviour. In the absence of such, SCoA is concerned that divisive discourse will further exacerbate these problems at the community level.

The Survey shows us that there is much to be positive about and indicates that despite the negative dialogue sometimes found in certain mainstream media and some corners of politics, Australia is a welcoming and compassionate society, largely supportive of immigration and our humanitarian program. SCoA believes that this goodwill indicates that multiculturalism is alive and well in Australia and that Australia is therefore well-placed to reap the benefits from a strong migration program which delivers dynamic settlement outcomes.

For further information you can access the report here, or view this excellent summary video.