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MIGRANT FAMILIES IN AUSTRALIA
The Family Characteristics Survey 2009-10
The Family Characteristics Survey 2009-10 reported 8.4 million households in Australia in 2009-10, of which 74% (6.2 million households) contained one or more families.
Family households contained 19.2 million people or 88% of the population living in private dwellings (excluding remote parts of Australia).
Lone persons households (23%) and group households (3%) made up the remaining 'non family' households of Australia. A summary of the overall survey results are available in Family Characteristics, Australia, 2009-10 (ABS cat. no. 4442.0) as well as associated data cubes. Data specifically pertaining to migrants is available in the Migrant Data Matrices (ABS cat. no. 3415.0) Family Characteristics 2009-10 migrants datacube.
In the 2009-10 Family Characteristics Survey, families are defined as:
According to the 2009-10 Family Characteristics Survey, Australia's 6.3 million families were comprised of:
Families with children have particular implications for government and community services providing health, education, children's welfare and housing programs and services. Families change formation over time with resident dependent and non-dependent children of any age within the household typically being supported emotionally and financially by their family structure. [Endnote 4].
Composition of migrant families
In 2009-10, Australia had 6.3 million families of which 40% (2.5 million) were migrant families and 60% (3.8 million) were non-migrant families. To qualify as a 'migrant family' for this article at least one 'key member' of the family was born overseas (see Glossary).
Australia's migrant families are comprised of:
The majority of migrant families were couples with or without children. Significantly, migrant couple families accounted for 89% of all migrant families compared with 82% of non-migrant families who were couples.
Of the 2.3 million migrant couple families, 55% had both partners born overseas and 45% were couples with one partner born overseas and the other partner born in Australia.
Migrants had a significantly higher proportion of couple families without children (43%) compared with non-migrants (38%).
Of the 1.2 million migrant couple families with children, significantly less (63%) had dependent children (aged less than 15 years) compared with 69% of non-migrant couple families. Significantly more migrant couple families had children aged 25 years and over still living at home at 11%, while 7.4% of non-migrant couple families had older children still living at home.
Employment typically provides financial security and other social benefits for families. In 2009-10, significantly fewer migrant couple families with children had at least one parent employed at 88% (non-migrants 94%). Migrant couple families with children with both parents employed were significantly lower at 55% than for non-migrant families in the same group (65%) as were migrant families with mothers employed part-time (27% compared with non-migrants at 38%).
A significant proportion (almost 12%) of migrant couple families with children had neither parent employed. This was almost double the rate of non-migrant couple families with children where neither parent was employed (6%).
One parent families
There were significantly fewer migrant one parent families (10%) compared with non-migrant one parent families (17%) in Australia. Migrant one parent families accounted for 17% of all migrant families with children, a significantly lower proportion than non-migrant one parent families (28%). The vast majority of one parent families were lone mother families (79% migrants, 83% non-migrants). For those one parent families with a lone mother employed, the proportion of migrant families was significantly lower at 38% than non-migrant families (46%).
Migrant children aged 0 to 17 years
In 2009-10, of the 5 million children aged 0 to 17 years in Australia, 417,700 (8.3%) were born overseas, with around 60% of these arriving between 2005 to 2010. Significantly more overseas born children (82%) lived in intact families (see Glossary), than Australian born children (73%), with most (80%) living with both of their natural parents (compared with 75% Australian born children). Significantly less overseas born children lived in one parent families (10%) compared with Australian born children (18%). There were similar levels of overseas born children and Australian born children living in step and blended families (7% and 9% respectively).
Countries of origin of migrant families
Migration of people from different regions of the world, particularly since World War II, has contributed to the make-up of Australia's multicultural profile. Initially, most migrants to Australia were born in North-West Europe, followed by large numbers from Southern and Eastern Europe. The 2011 Census reported that the proportion of migrants originating from Europe has fallen in the last decade, from 52% in 2001 to 40% in 2011, whilst the proportion of migrants born in Asian countries increased from 24% in 2001 to 33% in 2011. At Census, the top 5 countries of birth for the overseas born population, irrespective of the year of arrival, were the United Kingdom (21%), followed by New Zealand (9.1%), China (6.0%) India (5.6%) and Italy (3.5%) [Endnote 1].
Cultural diversity is often described in terms of whether the countries of origin are classified as main English speaking or otherwise. 'Main English-Speaking Countries' (MESC) consist of the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United States of America. It is important to note that being from a non-main English-speaking country (non-MESC) does not imply a lack of proficiency in English.
MESC families are migrant families with one or more 'key members' (see Glossary) born in a main English-speaking country. Non-MESC families are migrant families with one or more key members born in a country other than a main English-speaking country. Where both key members are born overseas and they are from a combination of MESC and non-MESC countries, the family is represented in both groups. Consequently, the count for the total number of MESC and non-MESC families exceeds the total number of migrant families.
In 2009-10, of the 2.5 million migrant families, just over 1.5 million families had at least one non-MESC key member while 1.1 million families had at least one MESC key member. About 101,300 migrant families had key members from both MESC and non-MESC countries.
Non-MESC migrant families were more common in both New South Wales (39%) and Victoria (29%) than MESC families (25% and 20% for these states respectively). In the other states and territories, MESC migrant families were at significantly higher proportions than non-MESC families, especially Queensland (25% and 14%) and Western Australia (18% and 9%).
Recently arrived and longer standing migrant families
With the family composition changing over time, it is interesting to look at migrant families in terms of their year of arrival.
The composition of migrant families who have arrived since 2005 differs from those who have been settled for much longer in Australia. The Family Characteristics Survey migrants data cube defines recent migrant families as those whose most recently arrived 'key member' arrived from 2005 to 2010. Longer standing migrant families are those whose most recently arrived key member arrived prior to 2005.
In 2009-10, 17% of all migrant families were recent migrants and 83% were longer standing migrants.
The majority of migrant families (2.3 million) were couple families (89%), of which 395,600 were recently arrived and 1.9 million were longer standing arrivals. For the recent migrant couple families, there were 54% without children and 46% with children. Significantly, the reverse was true for longer standing migrant families with 48% couples without children and 52% couples with children.
Of the 1.2 million migrant couples with children, there were significantly more recent migrants with dependent children (40%) compared with longer standing migrants with dependent children (35%).
For newly arrived migrant families, employment is a crucial step in settling and integrating into Australian society [Endnote 5]. In the initial settlement period for all migrant groups, unemployment rates can be relatively high. However, these rates can often fall substantially with increased duration of a migrant's residency [Endnote 6] as migrants gain the necessary skills required to assist successfully transition into the workforce.
A significantly higher proportion of longer standing migrant couple families with children (57%) compared with 49% of recent migrant couple families with children had both parents employed. Of these families with both parents employed, a higher proportion of longer term migrant couple families with children had the mother employed part-time (29%) than recent migrants (21%). Over a third (36%) of recent migrant couple families with children had only the father employed compared with about a quarter of longer term migrant families. Similar proportions of migrant couple families with children had neither parent employed, with recent migrant families at 11% and longer term migrant families at 12%.
RECENT AND LONGER STANDING MIGRANT COUPLE FAMILIES (a) WITH CHILDREN (b), By employment status — 2009-10
One parent families
Of the 878,600 one parent families in Australia, only 28% were migrant families. Just over 90% (225,000) of these migrant one parent families arrived prior to 2005. Significantly, almost 11% of all longer standing migrant families were one parent families while only 3.9% of all recently arrived migrant families were one parent families.
Other families are those where there were no partners or children (e.g. adult siblings living together without a parent). Just over one third of all 'other' families in 2009-10 were migrant families. This cohort was the only one that had a higher proportion of recently arrived (53%) than longer standing (47%) migrant families. Interestingly, the recently arrived other families cohort represented 4.1% (17,600) of all recently arrived families, whilst longer standing 'other' families constituted only 0.7% of all migrant families who arrived prior to 2005.
Migrant families in the states and territories
Many factors are considered when migrants are selecting their place of settlement in Australia. These include the economic attractiveness of the destination in terms of employment; housing opportunities; the location of other family members, friends or associates who are already residing in Australia; and whether or not there is already an established community where large numbers of people from the same country or ethnic background live [Endnote 7]. Hugo states in his report on 'Economic, Social and Civic Contributions of First and Second Generation Humanitarian Entrants' that '...those coming in as family or refugee-humanitarian migrants are often quite constrained in where they can live both economically in terms of what housing markets they can afford to buy into, and also because they need to rely upon the support of friends, family and compatriots to support them in adjusting to life in Australia.' [Endnote 8].
In addition, visa conditions such as those associated with the Regional Initiatives program have a direct impact on the location where a migrant can reside with migrants being required to live outside Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and Melbourne in their first few years of residency. Also, migrants entering Australia on an Australian Sponsored (Family) visa or as secondary applicants on a Skilled visa, often settle with, or in the same locality as, their relatives.
In 2009-10, the state distribution of the migrant families across Australia was similar to non-migrant families, with over two-thirds living in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland (77%). Interestingly, the proportion of migrant families was significantly higher in New South Wales (33%) and Western Australia (13%) than non-migrant families. Migrant families were significantly less common than non-migrant families in Queensland (18%) and Tasmania (1.3%) and the Northern Territory (0.6%).
In Australia, migrant families accounted for 40% of all families. Western Australia was the only state in which there were slightly more migrant families (319,900) than non-migrant families (314,700). The Australian Capital Territory had the next highest proportion of migrant families (43%), followed by both New South Wales and Victoria at 41%. Tasmania had the lowest proportion of migrant families (23%).
At 95%, Tasmania had the highest proportion amongst the states of migrant couple families, relative to the other family types, with over half of these (55%) migrant couples without children. The Australian Capital Territory was the next highest with 92% migrant couple families, the majority with children (54%). Western Australia ranked third with 91% migrant couple families, of which 49% were couples with children. Queensland also had significantly more migrant couple families without children at 47%.
Migrant one parent families accounted for only 9.5% of migrant families. However, as a proportion of migrant families within the states and territories the highest proportions were found in the Northern Territory (12%) and New South Wales (11%). Tasmania had the smallest proportion of migrant one parent families with 4.0%.Migrant households
According to the 2009-10 Family Characteristics Survey, migrant persons living in family households numbered 4.7 million people or 22% of the population living in private dwellings (excluding remote parts of Australia) while non-migrant persons living in family households accounted for 14.5 million people (67%). The majority (82%) of the 5.4 million migrants lived in one family households.
Significantly higher proportions of migrants lived in multi-family households (4.5%) and group households (3.8%) than did Australian born persons. These households also contained proportionally more non-MESC migrants than MESC migrants. Although there was a smaller number of recent migrants (1.2 million) compared with longer standing migrants (4.2 million) significantly more lived in group households (9.3% compared to 2.3%).
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2011, Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012-13, (cat. no. 2071.0).
2. http://social.un.org/index/Family/InternationalObservances/TwentiethAnniversaryofIYF2014.aspx - viewed 18/10/2012.
3. Hartley R. and McDonald P., 1994, Australian Institute of Family Studies, The Many Faces of Families: Diversity among Australian Families and its Implications, Family Matters no. 37 April 1994, pp6-12.
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2003, 'Living arrangements: Changing families' in Australian Social Trends, (cat. no. 4102.0).
5. Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), 2002, Settlement Experiences of New Migrants 2002.
6. Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), 2009, Fact Sheet 14 - Migrant Labour Market Outcomes, viewed 9/10/12.
7. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2004, 'Where do the Overseas-born population live?' in Australian Social Trends, (cat. no. 4102.0).
8. G. Hugo, 2011, National Centre for Social Applications of Geographical Information Systems, University of Adelaide Final Report to Department of Immigration and Citizenship May 2011, Economic, Social and Civic Contributions of First and Second Generation Humanitarian Entrants, 2011, p84.
9. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Jun 2012, Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2012, (cat. no. 3101.0).
NB: Final rebased population estimates using the 2011 Census of Population and Housing will be released in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) on 20 June 2013, at which point all components (births, deaths, NOM) will be revised and incorporated on a regular basis.
10. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2010-11, Migration Australia, 2010-11 (cat. no. 3412.0).
11. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2006-2031 (cat. no. 3236.0).
12. Department of Immigration (DIAC), Migration program Statistics - viewed 5/3/13
Further data is available from the following sources;
Inquiries about these and other related statistics can be made by contacting the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
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