Australia – A Nation of Immigrants

Those are not my words, I saw them on a TV advert. I can’t even remember what the programme or product was, but I knew how true those words were as soon as I saw them. After all, I’m one!

I have no wish to get into the history of Australia here, there are plenty of better places to go to find out about that. I did briefly touch on it in my post about Australia Day, and that’s as deep as I need to venture here.

Multicultural Australia

Multicultural Australia

But what I found to be both fascinating and entertaining about living here in Australia is that almost everyone you meet has a story. As with any house, when you first move in there is work to be done. Having stood empty for five months, our house needed more work than most. So around came the workers or tradies, as they are called.

•    Dave, who fixed the electric gates, was originally from Malta. He was Australian through and through but his parents moved here in the 50’s.
•    The satellite TV installers (Pt 1). They had both moved here from China. They hadn’t been here long and still spoke to each other in Chinese. Unfortunately we had a violent electrical storm whilst they were here and for some reason they refused to go on to my roof. “But it’s Tottenham vs West Ham live tomorrow!” I protested. Still no go. I had to reschedule.
•    The satellite TV installers (Pt 2). He had come to Australia from Vietnam. He was a baby when his parents escaped from their war zone to start a new life here.
•    The electrician. He had moved here from South Africa about five years ago. “SA, no place to bring up my children any more”.

I could go on but I can see you are all glazing over now. But for sure, Australia is a nation of immigrants.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics almost 5 million, that’s about a quarter of the population of Australia, were born outside of the country as at mid 2006. The UK top that list with just over 1.1 million and New Zealand are second with just under half a million.

Then China are third followed by Italy with, further down in descending order, Vietnam, India, Philippines, Greece, South Africa, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Serbia and Montenegro, Indonesia, United States, Poland, Fiji, Ireland and Croatia. So quite a diverse list.

But I come from England. You don’t get much more multicultural than multicultural Britain. Yet it seems so different here. Everyone I talk to that has come here from another country embraces Australia. They all seemed to be part of the collective Australian community. I do not see any evidence of isolated groups or inner battles.

Perhaps I am looking at it through those famous rose tinted spectacles. But I can only tell you how I see it and how it affects my life. I have heard there are tensions in particular areas of Sydney. So I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. But when it does, it seems to me the Australians tackle it head on. In their Australian way.

It strikes me that Australia has got multiculturalism exactly right and the UK have got it totally wrong. There are probably many reasons why that is the case, and I think I can think of a few. But that is way beyond the scope of this blog and would be simply entering an area that my knowledge doesn’t justify.

So I’ll leave it at that. But as I have been asked what the immigration situation is like here, I felt it right to say what I think.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Nelson July 29, 2014, 3:09 pm |

    I think this multiculturalism is one of the beauties of the country.

    • BobinOz July 29, 2014, 6:47 pm |

      I agree and I’ve just recently come back from a week in Singapore where multiculturalism seems to work extremely well indeed.

  • Phil July 26, 2012, 3:24 pm |

    This is completely true of Australia compared to the U.S.A, also. We have lived in Sydney the past year, and will be heading home to American soon for various reasons though we love Down Under. One of the things that is great about Aussie multiculturalism is that it seems, so far, to be so relatively natural and spontaneous. People just get along. As one with a member of a minority group in my family, it is something I notice. I suspect that one cause of this relative harmony is that there is not yet a hardcore racial spoils system where people can get special treatment due to their racial or ethnic heritage. It may exist (actually, I realize it does to some extent), but it is not very apparent. Thanks for the website Bob, we have enjoyed while here and wish you the best in Australia. What a beautiful, special land.

    • BobinOz July 30, 2012, 1:08 pm |

      Yes, I agree, I also think multiculturalism works better here than it does in the UK. “Natural and spontaneous” describes it well; you wouldn’t describe it like that in the UK, nor, I suspect, the USA. I’m not saying it’s perfect here, and I don’t imagine you are either, but it does seem better than what we are used to.

      Let’s hope it continues like that. Thanks Phil!

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