Is Australia becoming more Asian?

By Saru Rana
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Census 2016 reveals that only slightly more than half its residents had two Australian-born parents

If one goes by the data revealed by the Census 2016, Australians born of Australian parents will soon be a minority.

The census shows that in 2016, the country reached a point where only slightly more than half its residents had two Australian-born parents.

The Census data reveals that more than 25 per cent of Australia’s population in 2016 was born overseas (26.3 per cent, up from 24.6 per cent) and for the first time since colonisation, most of the overseas-born came not from Europe, but from Asia—China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. The Asian countries account for more foreign-born residents than England, New Zealand and mainland Europe.

Daniel Connell

“Indians tend to socialise and mix only with other Indians as with the North Asians. I guess that will change in the next generation”

Only 23.5 per cent of residents identified their ancestry as Australian, down from 29 per cent in 2006. A quarter described themselves as English.

Asian immigrants are typically much younger than European immigrants, meaning that the switch to Asian immigrants is helping slow down the ageing of the population.

“Australia has changed tremendously since I was young. When I went to school, which was one of the largest in South Australia, there was one Indian boy and one Chinese boy,” says Adelaide-based artist Daniel Connell. “My nephew’s favourite lunch snack is now sushi and the labourers have swapped the traditional pies and pasties for Vietnamese meat rolls and middle eastern kebabs. That’s a massive cultural shift. We love it,” he adds.

Connell, who works with new migrants to Australia, says he is concerned that there is very little social integration. “Indians tend to socialise and mix only with other Indians as with the North Asians. I guess that will change in the next generation. But I am concerned to ensure that all who come here know that as soon as they step off the plane. They know they are Australian. And that means the responsibility to build the Australia we all know,” he adds.

Deepa Mathew

“The diversity of race in Australia is very evident when we take a stroll down the streets of the CBD’s to the Suburbs from low socio-economic areas to affluent suburbs”

English remains Australia’s most used language, though it is becoming less common, with 72.7 per cent of residents reporting they spoke only English at home, down from 76.8 per cent in 2011. Mandarin is spoken by 2.2 per cent of Australians, up from 1.6 per cent, and Arabic by 1.4 per cent, up from 1.3 per cent. Vietnamese is spoken by 1.2 per cent of Australians, and Cantonese by another 1.2 per cent. The census recorded 300 different languages, including Indigenous languages.

A record 15.8 per cent of the population was aged 65 and over in 2016, up from 13.2 per cent in 2006. A record 4 per cent was 85 or over. The Bureau of Statistics counted 23.4 million Australian residents on August 9, up 1.9 million from 2011.

Adjusting the total for an estimated 1 per cent undercount and the 600,000 Australians travelling overseas, it believes Australia’s population was 24.4 million on 31 December, about 100,000 more than it had thought.

Melbourne is gaining on Sydney for the title of Australia’s biggest population centre, growing 12.1 per cent to 4.485 million since the previous census, compared with Sydney, which grew 9.8 per cent to 4.823 million.

Mudra Trivedi

“If migrants have come to Australia legally and are working here, paying regular taxes, giving back to the economy, to the community then they all have rights to call themselves ‘Australian’”

Darwin was Australia’s fastest-growing capital city, growing by 13.5 per cent, followed by Perth, which grew by 12.5 per cent. Two-thirds of all Australians live in capital cities, and 86 per cent of migrants.

“The diversity of race in Australia is very evident when we take a stroll down the streets of the CBD’s to the Suburbs from low socio-economic areas to affluent suburbs,” says Adelaide-based banker Deepa. She adds that new figures released by ABS reveal that out of $53.4 billion income generated by migrant tax payers, Indian born taxpayers generated a whopping $7.9 billion in the year 2011-12. This is growing and will be interesting to see the most recent stats,” she says.

“Whether you’re born in Australia or born overseas and live in Australia; you’re entitled to call yourself as ‘Australian’. If migrants have come to Australia legally and are working here, paying regular taxes, giving back to the economy, to the community then they all have rights to call themselves ‘Australian’,” says Mudra Trivedi, founder of Mudra Dance Company.

Who am I?

  • Only 23.5 per cent of residents identified their ancestry as Australian.
  • 2.8 per cent of Australians identified themselves as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, up from 2.5 per cent in 2011 and 2.3 per cent in 2006.
  • Migrants make up 28 per cent of the populations of NSW and Victoria and 32 per cent of the population of Western Australia.

 

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