The Scanlon Foundation's 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion Report has been launched
Surveying more than 24,000 people since 2007, the Scanlon Foundation’s report, produced in partnership with the Australian Multicultural Foundation and Monash University, is the largest study of its kind. It monitors public attitudes on issues including immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination, and belonging. The 2014 findings build on the data of 13 Mapping Social Cohesion reports.
Strong public support for Australia's immigration intake, and the benefits of multiculturalism are two of the findings from the 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion Report.
According to the results, Australia's public sentiment toward immigraton intake is possibly the most positive in the western world. In 2014, 58% of people agree that the immigration intake is about right or too low. Just 35% of people consider that the immigration intake is too high.
Public concern over asylum seeker arrivals by boat has dropped. In 2013, the issue was seen as the major problem facing Australia by 12% of people. In 2014, less than 4% of people hold the same view.
Support for eligibility for permanent settlement for asylum seekers arriving by boat has risen, but remains a minority viewpoint. Just one in four people (24%) support asylum seekers arriving by boat to be eligible for permanent settlement.
In terms of attitudes toward multiculturalism, 85% of people agree that it has been good for Australia, almost identical with the proportion in the 2013 survey.
Attitudes toward multiculturalism differ among the Australian population, for example between third generation Australians and those from non-English speaking backgrounds.
While a large majority of third generation Australians agree that people from different backgrounds get on well and that they like getting to know people from other cultures, the majority do not agree with entrenched cultural and ethnic difference.
The 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion report also highlights areas of concern.
Experience of discrimination remains close to the highest level recorded since the surveys began - at 18% in 2014. Of those who reported experience of discrimination, 30% indicated that it was a frequent occurence, at least once a month.
Negative views toward Muslim faith groups are almost five times higher than negative views toward the other religions surveyed, Christian and Buddhist faiths.
There are also concerns about the working of Australian democracy. Trust in government remains well below the level recorded in 2007-2009. While close to 90% of people agree that democracy, whatever its problems, is the best system of government, just 15% agree that the system works well as it is.
As for the nation's scorecard on social cohesion, Professor Andrew Markus says that in 2014, overall and by international standards, Australia remains highly cohesive.