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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/1994   
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Contents >> Population >> Population Growth: Birthplaces of Australia's settlers

Population Growth: Birthplaces of Australia's settlers

The UK continues to be the largest source of settlers despite a more varied immigration program in recent years.

Since 1788 Australia's population has been subject to continuous cycles of growth and structural change. While this has been mainly due to Australia's immigration policies, it has also been a reflection of events and economic conditions both within Australia and in the rest of the world. Such events include the transportation of convicts, the gold rush in the 1850s which included substantial Chinese immigration, the development of the Queensland sugar industry around the turn of the century, and wars, particularly World War II which resulted in substantial migration of displaced persons. Trans-Tasman migration, which has always been unrestricted, has fluctuated in response to relative economic conditions in New Zealand and Australia.

Immigration

In compiling estimates of the population both settler arrivals and visitors intending to stay 12 months or more (long term arrivals) are included in the category of permanent inward movement.

This review examines the settler component of overseas migration. This comprises:
  • people holding migrant visas, regardless of intended period of stay;
  • New Zealand citizens who indicate an intention to settle;
  • those otherwise eligible to settle e.g. overseas born children of Australian citizens.


Australia's immigration policy
Throughout most of this century government policy has actively determined the cultural mix of immigration, and hence of Australian society. Until the late 1940s, there was a deliberate effort to encourage immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland. This policy was relaxed in the immediate post-war period to encompass other Europeans but, at the same time, it discouraged and even rejected settlers from countries which were perceived as too dissimilar to the dominant Anglo-Celtic culture of Australia at the time. It was thought that immigrants from such cultures would be unable to assimilate into the 'Australian way of life', a stated aim of the migration policy of the day.

The policy was gradually relaxed throughout the 1950s and 1960s and in 1972 the last remnants of the 'white Australia policy' were officially abolished with the announcement that future immigration was to be based on the '...avoidance of discrimination on any grounds of race or colour of skin or nationality'1. Since that time, policies have actively encouraged a greater ethnic mix by emphasising equality of access for all groups. In 1977 Australia as a Multicultural Society2 presented a charter that highlighted three main issues; social cohesion, cultural identity, and equality of opportunity and access. A 1982 policy discussion paper suggested a fourth principle of '...equal responsibility for, commitment to, and participation in society'3. Multiculturalism is gradually becoming part of the Australian ethos with cultural diversity seen as advantageous rather than detrimental.

SOURCES OF SETTLER ARRIVALS


Source: Overseas Arrivals and Departures.

TOP SIX SOURCE COUNTRIES OF BIRTH OF SETTLERS


1961-65
1971-75
Country
'000
%
Country
'000
%


UK & Ireland
267.3
46.4
UK & Ireland
227.2
41.4
Italy
67.3
11.7
Yugoslavia(a)
39.2
7.2
Greece
65.6
11.4
Greece
21.2
3.9
Yugoslavia(a)
25.6
4.4
USA
20.0
3.7
Malta
19.5
3.4
Italy
18.5
3.4
Germany
17.8
3.1
New Zealand
18.5
3.4


1981-85
1988-92
Country
'000
%
Country
'000
%


UK & Ireland
116.8
25.4
UK & Ireland
110.3
17.9
New Zealand
48.6
10.6
New Zealand
65.2
10.6
Viet Nam
47.2
10.3
Hong Kong
49.2
8.0
Philippines
15.4
3.4
Viet Nam
47.6
7.7
Poland
14.8
3.2
Philippines
35.0
5.7
South Africa
12.2
2.7
Malaysia
27.4
4.4


(a) Includes Yugoslavia and former Yugoslav republics.

Source: Overseas Arrivals and Departures.



The post-war period
At the 1947 Census, one-tenth of Australians had been born overseas and of these, 81% had been born in English speaking countries. At the 1991 Census, one-quarter had been born overseas, 42% in English speaking countries. This change was accompanied by increasing diversity of the birthplaces represented in Australia. At the 1947 Census the five most common countries of birth (UK & Ireland, New Zealand, Italy, Germany and Greece) accounted for 87% of overseas born Australians. At the 1991 Census, the five most common countries of birth were UK & Ireland, New Zealand, Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece but these accounted for only 53% of overseas born Australians. The UK & Ireland, historically Australia's major source of settlers, remains the single most common country of birth of immigrants although its contribution has been reduced significantly, from 73% in 1947 to 42% in 1961 and 31% in 1991.

From the 1960s to the mid-1970s, settlers born in the UK & Ireland made up almost half of total settler arrivals. In 1965 and 1966, there were more settlers from UK & Ireland than from the rest of the world put together. Since the mid-1970s, however, the number of settlers from the rest of the world has increased substantially (reflecting Australia's broadening immigration policy) while the number from UK & Ireland has remained relatively steady. Of the 1992 intake of settlers, 12,300 had been born in the UK & Ireland and 82,000 in the rest of the world.


Apart from the UK & Ireland, the other major source countries of settlers have changed markedly in the last 30 years. In the early 1960s, European countries particularly Italy and Greece predominated, and the six most common countries of birth accounted for 80% of settler arrivals. By the early 1970s, USA and New Zealand were represented in the top six countries, which in total accounted for 63% of settler arrivals. In the late 1970s Viet Nam began to become an important source of settlers and in the period 1981-85 was ranked third. The most recent period (1988-92) has seen a continuation of migration from Asia with four of the top six source countries in being Asian.

SETTLERS BORN IN NEW ZEALAND


Source: Overseas Arrivals and Departures.


SETTLERS BORN IN GREECE AND ITALY


Source: Overseas Arrivals and Departures.
SETTLERS BORN IN VIET NAM AND HONG KONG


Source: Overseas Arrivals and Departures.

Selected countries

Migration between Australia and New Zealand has always been unrestricted. In the post-war period to the mid-1960s, much of the trans-Tasman migration was the onward migration of British settlers4. At that time, Australia's intake of people born in New Zealand was low. Since then there have been three distinct waves of immigration of the New Zealand born. From the mid-1970s, the intake rapidly increased to a high of 18% of Australia's immigration program in 1979. In the early 1980s the intake fell but rose in 1985 and again in 1988. In 1992, 8% of Australia's settlers had been born in New Zealand, representing an outflow of 2,000 per million (or 1 in 500) of the New Zealand population.

Italy and Greece both provided many of the settlers who came to Australia in the 1960s. However immigration of people born in these countries tapered off during the 1970s and 1980s and in 1992 the combined proportion of settlers born in these countries was less than 1% of the total intake.

The number of settlers born in Viet Nam increased dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s with refugees leaving Viet Nam during and after the Viet Nam war. Before 1976 Viet Nam was not separately recorded as a country of birth for settlers so it is not possible to get an exact picture of settler intake prior to this time. However, there have been three peak periods for Vietnamese settling in Australia. The first was the initial intake of refugees in the late 1970s. The second, in 1983-84, was most likely a result of the 1982 agreement between the Australian and Vietnamese governments (the Orderly Departure Program) which allowed relatives of Vietnamese Australians to leave Viet Nam and migrate to Australia. The third peak in the late 1980s seems to have been mainly due to the family reunion scheme. Vietnamese born settlers accounted for 8% of all settlers who arrived in 1992 and represented an outflow of 100 per million of that country's population.

In 1991 Hong Kong overtook Viet Nam and New Zealand as the second largest source of settlers. In 1992 settlers born in Hong Kong made up 10% of the total number of immigrants to Australia and represented an outflow of 1,700 per million of Hong Kong's population. It is expected that the prominence of Hong Kong as a major source of settlers is temporary as many citizens are choosing to leave prior to the reversion of government to China in 1997.



TOP SIX SOURCE COUNTRIES OF BIRTH OF SETTLERS, 1992

Immigrants to Australia
Population of source country
Rate per million of source country's population
Country
no.
'000,000
no.

UK & Ireland
12,290
61.2
201
Hong Kong
9,820
5.8
1,693
Viet Nam
7,390
69.5
106
New Zealand
7,310
3.5
2,116
India
5,110
879.5
6
Philippines
4,930
65.2
76


Source: Overseas Arrivals and Departures; World Health Organisation World Health Statistics Annual


Endnotes

1 Jupp, J. (ed.) (1988) The Australian People: an encyclopedia of the Nation, its people and their origins.

2 Australian Ethnic Affairs Council (1977)
Australia as a Multicultural Society.

3 Australian Council on Population and Ethnic Affairs (1982)
Multiculturalism for All Australians: our developing Nationhood.

4 Carmichael, G. (ed.) (1993)
Trans-Tasman migration: trends, causes and consequences.


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