Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Multiculturalism and Immigrant Integration in Australia

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Multiculturalism and Immigrant Integration in Australia

Article excerpt

Abstract

Australia has been a major immigration nation for over six decades, with immigration central to nation building in Australia. In the past two decades, the character of the Australian immigration intake has changed considerably while the issues of immigration and multiculturalism have been controversial at the level of public opinion and national politics. But what has happened to immigrants themselves in Australia? This article draws on a range of primary and secondary research to review the objective and subjective evidence on immigrant integration in Australia across a wide range of indicators. The central research question of this article is: to what extent are immigrants integrated into economic, social, cultural and political Iife in Australia and how successful has Australian multiculturalism been in achieving the objective of immigrant integration? Taking Kymlicka's (2012) conceptualization of, and comparative measurement of, immigrant integration as a point of departure, this article argues that despite the fact that Kymlicka's conceptualization of integration is constrained by a focus on the policy and institutional structures of immigrant integration rather than on the outcomes and experiences of immigrant settlers in these societies, his overall conclusion about the relative success of Australian immigrant integration and the central role of multiculturalism to that outcome is well supported by the evidence.

Resume

Depuis plus de soixante ans, I'Australie est une nation de premier plan dans I'accueil des immigrants, alors que ceux-ci sont au cceur meme de sa construction. Au cours des deux dernieres decennies, le caractere de ces nouveaux arrivants a cependant change considerablement, alors que les problemes d'immigration et de multiculturalisme ont fait I'objet de controverses tant dans I'opinion publique que dans les politiques nationales. Mais qu'arrive-t-il en fait aux immigres eux-memes en Australie? Cet article s'appuie sur toute une recherche primaire et secondaire afin de reviser I'evidence objective et subjective concernant leur integration en faisant appel a un vaste eventail d'indicateurs. La question centrale de cet article, c'est de savoir a quel point ces nouveaux venus sont-ils inseres dans la vie economique, sociale, culturelle et politique du pays, et a quel point le multiculturalisme australien a-t-il reussi a atteindre I'objectif de cette insertion. Nous partons de la conceptualisation et des donnees comparatives de I'integration des immigres chez Kymlicka (2012) pour soutenir que, maigre les limites imposees a cette conceptualisation par I'accent mis sur la politique et les structures institutionnelles de I'integration en question plutot que sur les resultats et les experiences des colons immigres dans ces societes, sa conclusion generale sur le succes relatif obtenu en Australie sur cette question et le role central du multiculturalisme dans ce resultat s'accorde bel et bien avec l'evidence.

INTRODUCTION

Australia is a traditional settler immigration nation with a strong and sustained history of immigration that has been central to nation building. As Markus et al. (2009, 152) put it, "Australia is one of the few nations to be built by planned immigration." Data from the 2011 Australian census shows that one in four (24.6%) of the Australian population are first-generation immigrants while 43.1% are either first-or second-generation immigrants (ABS 2012). In Australia's major cities, the majority of the population is comprised of first-or second-generation immigrants (Sydney and Perth 61%, Melbourne 58%). Despite the intentions of the architects of post-war immigration policy to use immigration to consolidate Australia's White, British character (Collins 1991; Jupp 2002), the Australian immigration net has drawn in immigrants from all corners of the globe. As a result, Australian cities and, increasingly, Australian regional towns, are cosmopolitan in character. …

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