Australian dream becoming reality for migrants, ABS shows

“I was always surrounded by family while growing up in England. Once we got here, it was lonely and challenging to be on our own for the first time. Sydney in the nineties was so different to what it is now.

“We lived in Sutherland Shire. There weren’t many other Indian families at the time so it was confusing being so Indian at home and Australian at school.

“I didn’t feel confident enough to be Indian or openly celebrate Indian festivals because I spent my younger years trying so hard to be Australian. No one knew I could speak a second language until I was past Year 12.”

Now in her 30s, she feels able to embrace both cultures.

“I am comfortable with being different, being who I am and the diverse background that I come from,” she said.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia Chair Mary Patetsos said permanent migrants owning or buying a home shows their determination to be part of Australian society.

“This new data, showing that 54 per cent of permanent migrants own or are buying a home, illustrates the commitment of migrants to their new land,” Ms Patetsos said.

“It’s an illustration of how migrants’ hard work and ambition delivers economic growth, nation-building and social cohesion to our country.”

McCrindle social researcher Geoff Brailey said the challenge is the humanitarian stream where more than 60 per cent of people arriving since 2000 are still renting, which is about double the national average for Australian citizens.

“Those arriving in the skilled stream are getting a foot on the property ladder, however, those coming under the humanitarian stream may be struggling with housing affordability as most of them arrive in NSW and Victoria,” Mr Brailey said.

Immigration to Australia pre-1995 was largely low-skilled but recent migrants have accounted for about two in three (64.5 per cent) new net jobs created over the past five years, a 2018 report by The Treasury and Department of Home Affairs found.

However, migrants are not replacing Australian workers, with research finding local workers were neither helped nor harmed by migration over the period 2000 to 2011.

The most common weekly income for the 2000 to 2016 cohort of permanent migrants was $650 – $999 per week in 2016, but more than a quarter (27 per cent) of humanitarian migrants had weekly incomes of $300 – $649 per week. More than one in three (35 per cent) employed skilled migrants earned more than $1,500 per week compared to 7.3 per cent for those on humanitarian visas.

Mr Brailey said skilled migrants had the highest levels of English proficiency at 92 per cent, while those in the family and humanitarian streams, had lower rates of English proficiency at 73 per cent  and 66 per cent respectively.

“There’s been a shift in migration from European countries to Asian countries where English is a second language,” Mr Brailey said.

One in five permanent migrants in the cohort who arrived between 2000 and 2016 reported they had moved within Australia in the prior 12 months. Melbourne was the most common destination gaining 12,431 people, including 2,769 migrants from Sydney.

Sydney was the second most common destination gaining 8,780 movers, including 1,798 migrants from the rest of New South Wales, and 1,762 migrants from Melbourne.

Despite the majority of Australians seeing the benefits of migration, more than half (55 per cent) don’t believe it should be easier to migrate to Australia, a survey of about 1000 people, commissioned by international money transfer service TransferWise, released this week found.

Successful migrant stories documented by Nicola Gray at New Humans of Australia and Rashida Tayabali at The Newcomer magazine are featured on the Faces of Australia website, featuring people such as Dharmica Mistry.