29 January 2009

Nearly half of Australians are first- or second-generation immigrants: census

The Australian Census for 2006 reveals that 44 per cent of Australians were born either overseas or to at least one parent born in a country other than Australia, and Asians are quickly catching up to Europeans to be a dominant source of immigration.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost one quarter of Australia's 20 million-plus population was born overseas, and four-fifths of these people lived in Australia's capital cities.

Since Australia opened its doors to European immigrants after the Second World War, Europeans have dominated Australian immigration and figures show they have not relented, despite the Asian countries following closely on their heels. 

Of the 4.4 million Australian residents who were born overseas during the 2006 Census, up to 47 per cent were European-born, and half of these were from the United Kingdom.  Up to 27 per cent were Asian-born, with 5 per cent being born in China.  New Zealand (after the UK) was the second most common country of birth for those born overseas.

Since the 1996 Census, the overseas-born population in Australia increased by 13 per cent, with the biggest increase coming from Asia, and since 2002, Asia steals six places in the top 10 most common countries of birth other than Australia.

Despite the influx from Asian countries over the past decade, the UK and New Zealand remain firmly in the top two positions for being the most common country of birth outside of Australia.

The Census also proves the Australian migration programme is successfully bringing the right people to move to Australia – more Australian immigrants are now younger and of working age, and in 2006, over half of all recent arrivals were aged between 20 and 39 years old. 

Debates continue as to whether the government should reduce its skilled migration programme in line with the current economic climate; however, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans has said he will wait for the 2009-10 Budget before any amendments will be made.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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