Australia may have an open door to expats from all over the world, but some find when they touch down that their new life is tinged by racism.
Most expats fall in love with their new home down under and stay for many years, but for a few, the love affair sours.
Although most Australians embrace a multicultural society and six out of 10 consider they are citizens of the world, some nationalities have a harder time than others in their new home.
While 75% of expats from India or Sri Lanka declare they are Australians, a third of New Zealanders regard themselves as Kiwis and 26% of New Zealanders complain that they are the victims of discrimination while in Australia.
Although expats from India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia consider they are Australians, nearly half confessed they had experienced racism in Australia and regarded this personal attitude as the single factor they disliked most about their new home.
Racism by country
The research comes out of a series of studies mapping Australia’s multicultural society by the Scanlon Foundation for Victoria’s Monash University.
Discrimination from native born Australians against newcomers seems rife, according to the report.
Expats report discrimination consistently above 40% for migrants from Asia, 37% for South Africa and Zimbabwe, 20% to 25% for Europe, the United States and Canada.
The figure is much lower for expats from Britain and Ireland – just 12% – probably because of the affinity between the nations and the fact that the British are by far the largest expat group in Australia.
Monash University’s Professor Andrew Markus suggests that fewer New Zealanders regard themselves as Australian because of visas offer permanent residence but not full citizenship.
Family and friends
The survey is Australia’s largest study of social cohesion, attitudes to immigration and cultural diversity.
Overall, 81% of expats expressed satisfaction with living in Australia, but also maintained close contact with family and friends in their home country. Professor Markus explained low cost mobile phone and online communications helped expats keep in touch with their friends and families, compared to expensive phone calls and the slow delivery of letters before the internet came on line.
“Around 70% of recent expats are in frequent contact with family and friends overseas, while around 45% of those from Asian countries visit their former home countries at least yearly,” he said.
Markus concluded that although many expats reported discrimination and unpleasant racism, Australia was still seen as a multicultural nation without ethnic issues.