Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

1.9.2010 | Von:
Graeme Hugo

An Increasingly Diverse Population

Without post-war migration, Australia´s current population would be 12 million rather than the actual figure of 22 million, but the impact of migration on the Australian population has been greater than a numerical one. A half-century ago Australia´s population was overwhelmingly of Anglo-Celtic origin, but post-war migration has transformed it into one of the most multicultural of societies.

Capturing all the dimensions of the diversity is difficult but some of the findings from the 2006 population census are illustrative:
  • Some 23.9 percent of the total population were born outside of Australia, 14.8 percent in countries where English is not the main language. The comparative figures for 1947 were 9.8 percent and 2.0 percent.
  • Over a fifth of the overseas-born (21.5 percent) speak a language other than English at home.
  • 26.4 percent of the Australia-born population have at least one overseas-born parent.
  • In 2006 there were 12 birthplace groups with more than 100.000 persons living in Australia and 61 birthplace groups with more than 10.000 Australian residents.
The Figure demonstrates how the intake of settlers into Australia has diversified over the post-war period. The pre-war
Settler Arrivals by Region of Last ResidencsSettler Arrivals by Region of Last Residencs Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de (bpb)
dominance of the United Kingdom was changed in the early post-war years by the influx of continental Europeans. Then in the 1970s the "White Australia Policy", which had been in the process of being gradually dismantled since the late 1940s, was finally buried, and an influx of refugees from Indo-China after 1975 heralded the beginning of a continuing migration of Asian settlers into Australia. At various stages over the ensuing three decades different Asian groups have been dominant in the influx, but in recent years China and India have been the main origin countries. The extension of the refugee-humanitarian program to Africa during the last decade saw, for the first time, substantial numbers of black African immigrants settle in Australia, adding an extra element of diversity to the population. Dominant in the Oceania group are New Zealanders, whose movement to Australia is not only facilitated by the Trans-Tasman Agreement allowing entry, but increasing integration of the Australian and New Zealand economies.

Settler Arrivals by Country of BirthSettler Arrivals by Country of Birth Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de (bpb)
The Figure left depicts the distribution of the countries of origin of recent permanent settlers to Australia. It shows that, while the traditional origin countries of the United Kingdom and New Zealand remain important, there is a wide dispersion in evidence. Moreover, it indicates the significance of Asia, especially India and China.

Citizenship and naturalisation

Australia has strongly encouraged settlers to take up Australian citizenship, for which they became eligible to apply after two years of residence up to 2007 and after four years thereafter. Of the overseas-born population in Australia, slightly more than three quarters have taken up Australian citizenship. The citizenship take-up rate has increased from less than two thirds in 1989. The take up rate varies depending on the country of birth, with especially high rates for those born in Greece, Hungary, Lebanon, Egypt, Vietnam, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, and particularly low rates for the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Other nationalities with large numbers of eligible persons who have not taken up citizenship are Italy, Malaysia, India and the People´s Republic of China. [1]

The Australian Citizenship Act of 1948 stipulated that those born in Australia who acquired another nationality forfeited their Australian citizenship. With increasing Australian emigration there was considerable opposition to this, culminating in 2001 in a Senate Inquiry and a subsequent amendment to the Act in 2002, which made dual citizenship possible for Australians.

A record number of citizenships were approved in 2006-07 (136.256) ahead of some changes in the Citizenship Act in 2007. These changes involved an increase in the residence requirement and the introduction of a citizenship test. The latter was somewhat controversial but in its initial year 95 percent of people who sat the test passed it.


DIAC (2009a: 12).


Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl: Aktuelle Themen

Ein Kurzdossier legt komplexe Zusammenhänge aus den Bereichen Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl sowie Integration auf einfache und klare Art und Weise dar. Es bietet einen fundierten Einstieg in eine bestimmte Thematik, in dem es den Hintergrund näher beleuchtet und verschiedene Standpunkte wissenschaftlich und kritisch abwägt. Darüber hinaus enthält es Hinweise auf weiterführende Literatur und Internet-Verweise. Dies eröffnet die Möglichkeit, sich eingehender mit der Thematik zu befassen. Unsere Kurzdossiers erscheinen bis zu 6-mal jährlich.

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