The Senate Inquiry into Nationhood, National Identity and Democracy

The British Australian Community has made a submission for the recent parliamentary inquiry linked below;

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Nationhood

Our submission was received and we are within our rights to make our statement public.

Please view our statement below;

 

British Australian Community Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee

Inquiry into nationhood, national identity and democracy

Submission Introduction

The rise in ethnic diversity has produced a decline in social cohesion in Australia.

Social cohesion can be stabilised and eventually increased by two mechanisms – an adjusted immigration policy and the introduction of civics education in schools that teaches and promotes Australian values derived from our national history and heritage.

Immigration

Migration rates into Australia have fluctuated from a peak of 185,000 arrivals in 1969 to 50,000 in 1975. In the 1990s, migration rates fluctuated between 60,000 to 80,000.

Phillips, J, Klapdor, M & Simon-Davies, J: Migration to Australia since Federation: a guide to the statistics Parliamentary Library Background Note 29 October 2010

https://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/library/pubs/bn/sp/migrationpopulation.pdf

Net overseas migration into Australia reached record levels in the last ten years. In 2007 the net migration figure was 232,700; in 2008 the figure was 277,400; in 2009 the figure was 299,900. Between 2010 and 2015, the average annual migration figure was just under 200,000 each year.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Demographic Statistics reported at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/MigrationStatistics

These historically high migration levels have contributed significantly to concerns about social cohesion, integration, congestion, impact on Australia’s environment and deterioration in our social capital.

In the context of Australia’s population needs, given the large-scale immigration since 1996, overall immigration should be capped at 60,000 migrants per year. This will reduce the prospects of continued deterioration in social cohesion.

Maintaining the proportion of migrants from the British Isles in the reduced immigration intake at a minimum level of 50% will enhance social cohesion.

History validates the proposition that immigrants from the British Isles require no special integration programs and their presence leads to a reinforcement rather than a fraying of social cohesion in Australia.

Civics Education

An ancillary solution to declining social cohesion is to reinforce the values of our nation.

The current national curriculum in Australian schools fails to teach students about British Isles culture and history or about the characteristics and values of Australia’s pioneers who founded our nation.

There is inadequate focus on teaching students the origins of our system of Government and the principles of individual liberty that underpin our society.

Instead school curricula tend to emphasise Aboriginal & Asian history and environmental issues.

This failure to explain our national identity to our young Australians leads to anomie and an erosion of social connectedness.

Australians who understand their nation’s origins and values will be more likely to display national cohesion and be more likely to contribute to our community’s social capital.

Features of Social Cohesion

Cohesion involves inter-action, interdependence and shared loyalties between members of a community. Social cohesion resides in the social ties and connections that bind people together.

A common descent is a legitimate feature that enhances a sense of identity and sense of belonging and a community orientation.

Community cohesion produces social capital and contributes to community strength and wellbeing and a sense of belonging. Social capital ultimately depends on trust and reciprocity. Social capital should be the most valued form of any capital, as it provides the foundation of a civil society.

An Australian sociological study of community cohesion has identified that:

A sense of belonging is established by

  • Neighbourliness – a high level of interaction with neighbours, friends and family
  • An ethic of care (offering support and help)

Community engagement is established by:

  • Volunteering
  • Attendance at community events

Another factor of social cohesion relates to a perception of safety, indicated by:

  • Low official crime rate
  • Residents’ expression of feeling safe

Holdsworth, Louise & Hartman, Yvonne A.: Indicators of community cohesion in an Australian country Town Southern Cross University ePublications@SCUSchool of Arts and Social Sciences 2009

All of these aspects of social cohesion were inherent features of Australian society in the period in which Australian communities predominantly comprised people of British Isles descent.

These same features are still evident principally in regional Australia in communities that continue to reflect common values and heritage.

Volunteering as an Illustration of Social Cohesion

Volunteering is an important aspect of social cohesion and a foundation stone of social capital. Volunteering moreover is an accurate indicator of social cohesiveness, as volunteering requires direct social engagement.

A 2007 study found that volunteering levels were highest in Australian-born people and areas with the highest concentration of people from non-English speaking countries were the lowest in volunteering rates, even after factoring for income differences between survey respondents. According to the study, ethnic diversity, as opposed to the simple concentration of persons born in non-English speaking counties, was shown to be associated with low levels of volunteering.

Healy, E; ‘Ethnic Diversity and Social Cohesion in Melbourne’ People and Place 2007 15 4 p 61

The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 survey Voluntary Work in Australia also established that Australian-born people are more likely to volunteer than overseas-born:

  • 36.2% of Australian-born survey respondents volunteered in the previous 12 month period.

By contrast:

  • 28.9% of overseas-born respondents from English-speaking countries (e.g. UK, NZ) volunteered;

  • 25.9% of overseas-born respondents from Non-English Speaking countries volunteered;

  • Among first generation Middle Eastern respondents, the percentage of volunteers was lowest at 12.4% (Voluntary Work in Australia p 20).

A 2004 Local Government survey undertaken by the Department of Community Services in Melbourne reported similar indicators.

Andrew Leigh, a former ANU economist, has also found that trust and preparedness to help others is lower in linguistically diverse neighbourhoods.

Leigh A ‘Diversity, trust and distribution’ Dialogue of Academy of Social Sciences in Australia 2006 25 no 3 p 44

Decline in Australia’s Social Cohesion

Monash University produces an annual Mapping of Social Cohesion through the Scanlon Foundation Surveys Summary Report. This survey compares responses from long-time Australians and those from Non English Speaking respondents.

The survey has been conducted since 2007. In the decade to 2017, these surveys show a decline in social cohesion. In 2007, 11% of respondents considered that their lives would get worse in future; by 2017, despite Australia’s economic buoyancy, this figure had risen to 19%.

Over this period, respondents who said that they felt a sense of belonging in Australia to a great extent declined from 77% in 2007 to 64% in 2018.

https://scanlonfoundation.org.au/report2018/

These indicators reveal a lack of trust in institutions and declines in community cohesiveness and a national sense of belonging.

Decline in Social Integration

In the ten year survey period, the percentage of the Australian population that is overseas-born increased from 25 per cent to 28 per cent.

In the same period, the number of Sydney council areas with majority overseas-born residents rose from one in eight to one in five. In Melbourne, this number increased from one in thirty to one in nine.

This indicates an increasing concentration of overseas-born ethnic populations in specific suburban locations. An unstated corollary is a decline in social integration.

In suburban locations such as Box Hill in Melbourne and Auburn in Sydney, businesses displaying non-English signage predominate. The effect is to socially marginalise Australians of British Isles descent in those locations.

State and even Federal political campaigns in Victoria now commonly feature targeted advertising in ethnic languages in electorates with significant overseas-born residents. In Victoria, this has led to divisiveness; claims of ethnic voter enclaves and claims of political party branch stacking by ethnic group members.

Rise in Concern about Crime and Personal Safety

Crime disproportionately committed by some members of ethnic groups gives rise to social fractures.

Ipsos research indicates that 40% of Victorian respondents to a recent national survey nominated crime as their biggest concern. Fear of crime peaked at 61% among people aged over 73 years.

The Age 13 September 2019

The extensive publicity given to home invasions and aggravated assaults in Victoria no doubt contribute to that level of concern.

Police statistics in Victoria indicate that convictions for home invasions and aggravated assaults disproportionately feature ethnic offenders. For example, Sudanese-born offenders were in the top three nationalities for aggravated burglary and serious assault and were over-represented in terms of number of offenders compared with percentage of population by a factor of six.

By contrast, people born in the UK and Ireland are under-represented by a factor of three in terms of overall criminal convictions compared to their proportion of the Victorian population.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-11/melbourne-sudanese-crime-statistics-victoria/10065402

In addition to actual criminal offences giving rise to legitimate community concern, an Australian Institute of Criminology report identifies the level of trust in fellow community members as a variable that may contribute more to perceptions of crime than actual crime rates.

Davis B & Dossetor K 2010: (Mis) perceptions of crime in Australia. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 396. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. https://aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi396

The greatest levels of concern about personal safety are evident in areas with higher ethnic diversity such as metropolitan Melbourne and Sydney.

This tends to confirm studies in America that levels of trust are lowest in ethnically diverse urban areas.

In his notable study of American neighbourhoods, Harvard University sociologist Robert Putnam found that in more diverse neighbourhoods, people trusted one another less, were less altruistic, and had fewer friends. Not only did people in diverse neighbourhoods trust those who are ethnically different less; they also tended to be less trusting of people similar to them. They also didn’t spend as much time volunteering in their communities, and instead “huddle unhappily in front of the television.”

Putnam, R, D. E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century Scandinavian Political Studies 2007 30 2 137-174

Community Safety Concerns

The issue of radicalization of disaffected members of some ethnic communities leading to terrorist activity also now confronts Australia and further contributes to a reduction in trust levels in the broader Australian community.

In the period to 2013, there had been 28 terrorist-related criminal convictions in Australia. All but one involved perpetrators of Middle Eastern origin and/or allegiance to radical Islam.

McGarrity, Nicola: Let the Punishment Match the Offence: Determining Sentences for Australian Terrorists International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 2013 2 (1) 1-15

Solutions

There are two practical solutions to increase social cohesion in Australia.

  1. Increase the proportion of migrants from the British Isles. These migrants have been the foundation of Australian society since our establishment as a nation; they integrate seamlessly; and they contribute positively to Australia’s economy and social cohesiveness.

 

The United Kingdom-born population continues to be the largest overseas-born group in Australia, with over a million British residents recorded in the 2016 census.

Furthermore, Australia remains the first preference of destination for British emigration. 

Today, however, the vast majority of British migration is temporary and does not lead to permanent residency. 500,000 British visitors travel to Australia each year. About 40,000 are granted the right to live and work in Australia on a working holiday visa for a year. Between 2014 and 2015, 96.5% of the British citizens who entered Australia stayed temporarily (Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2015).

A concerted campaign to encourage and assist permanent migration from the United Kingdom and Ireland would enhance Australia’s social cohesion, improve a national sense of belonging and reduce integration challenges.

  1. Establish a national civics curriculum for schools that teaches students about Australia’s history and British Isles-derived culture; the nature and origins of our system of Government; and the principles of individual liberty that underpin our society.

Multicultural policies in Australia have fractured the cohesiveness of Australian society by de facto marginalising Australians descended from the peoples of the British Isles. Other ethnicities are lauded, acknowledged and provided with preferential treatment (e.g. minority employment streams; dedicated educational scholarships) but the expression of a cohesive Australian identity is discouraged and suppressed.

A civics education program would teach and celebrate the history, culture and traditions of the peoples who founded Australia as a nation.

In combination, these solutions will promote national identity and reinforce social cohesion in Australia.

 

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