Australian Immigration

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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From the time Europeans entered the world of the Australian Aborigines, immigration to this magnificent land began to shift the cultural makeup of its people. A transplanted language (English) and transplanted political and legal systems created a white enclave in an Asian/South Pacific region. Still predominantly white and European, Australia has opened its shores to encourage professional and skilled workers to immigrate from the nations of the world.

From Dreamtime to Modern Immigration

In the beginning, the Aborigines believe, there was the Dreamtime when all things were created. Their world was disrupted and changed forever when the English decided the vast wilderness of Australia had potential as a colony, and was ideal for confining excess numbers of British convicts. Having won their independence from England, the American colonies were no longer available to relieve the pressure on England's overflowing prisons.

Australia remained European and white pretty much until the early 1970s, when the government ended the immigration policies that had excluded Asians and blacks. A wave of Italian immigrants after World War II had created quite a stir in the nation because of their different cuisine and different customs, but they and other groups helped to break down the barriers that hindered the immigration of other ethnic and racial groups. Asians began to take advantage of the new, non-discriminatory laws in the 1980s, and today, about 100,000 people from many countries decide to make Australia their new home each year.

Approximately 12 percent of these were born in the United Kingdom or Ireland; 11 percent are from New Zealand, and more than 21 percent immigrate from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, or the Philippines. More than 250,000 Australian residents were born in Italy; approximately 186,000 are from what used to be Yugoslavia. About 144,000 are from Greece, 118,000 from Germany, and 103,000 from China. Australia is no longer homogeneous, but has become the multicultural continent it was determined to be.


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