Scanlon Foundation's 2015 Mapping Social Cohesion Report has been launched

Surveying more than 25,000 people since 2007, the Scanlon Foundation’s 2015 Mapping Social Cohesion Report, produced in partnership with the Australian Multicultural Foundation and Monash University, is the largest study of its kind. It tracks public attitudes on issues including immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination, and belonging, and maps our national mood via the Scanlon-Monash Index of Social Cohesion. 

Australians are accepting of cultural diversity and immigration, but concerned about changes impacting on social justice, according to new social cohesion research released by the Scanlon Foundation on Thursday 29 October.

Overall, Australia remains a stable and highly cohesive society. The Scanlon Monash Index of social cohesion has moved in the strongest positive directon since the Index was established in 2007.

The high level of support for multiculturalism has been maintained, with most people (86%) agreeing that multiculturalism has been good for Australia – almost the same proportion as in 2013 and 2014. The 2015 survey provides further evidence of the meaning of multiculturalism in Australia, where it is seen as a success in facilitating integration.


 

Report author, Professor Andrew Markus said while the overall shift in the Scanlon-Monash Index of social cohesion was positive, the domain of Social Justice and Equity had slipped. And, in 2015, the index sits at the third lowest point since 2007.

The report shows experience of discrimination based on ethnic background and religion has lessened from 18% to 15% since last year, and there continues to be a high level of acceptance of immigration and cultural diversity.

However, the survey also reflects complex social change. In the domain of social equity and justice, there has been a decline in satisfaction since the election of the Coalition government. This reflects heightened concern over lack of support for those on low incomes, the gap between rich and poor, lessened economic opportunity and low trust in government.


Launch of the 2015 Mapping Social Cohesion Survey


Key findings also show that in 2015, economic concerns remain on top in the ranking of the most important issue facing Australia today, with national security, terrorism, and social issues ranking second.

The most significant change was the level concern for national security and terrorism, which increased from less than one per cent in 2014, to 10% in 2015.

Social issues including childcare, family breakdown and drug use also ranked higher. The proportion of respondents who see this as the top issue facing Australia has doubled since 2012.

The level of concern about immigration remains at the lowest point recorded by the Scanlon Foundation surveys – just 35% of respondents consider that the intake is too high. Since 2014, there has been little change in attitudes toward asylum seekers arriving by boat – just one in four people consider that they should be eligible for permanent settlement in Australia.

In response to questions on integration, two thirds of respondents agreed that Australians should do more to learn about the customs and heritage of immigrants, while a similar proportion agreed that immigrants should change their behaviour to be more like Australians.  Professor Markus says that, “the survey found considerable support for the idea that both people born in Australia and immigrants needed to adapt to life in a changing Australia”.

Scanlon Foundation CEO, Anthea Hancocks said the Mapping Social Cohesion report provided valuable insight for government, business and the community. “Australia’s diverse culture is one of its most defining characteristics.  Understanding public attitudes through this report, is one way to ensure we address issues that are crucial to sustaining social cohesion,” said Ms Hancocks.

The 2015 survey was conducted in June and July and employed a national representative sample of 1500 respondents. Its findings build on the data collected from fourteen earlier Mapping Social Cohesion reports, surveying a collective sample of more than 25,000 people since 2007.

Summary of findings by State and region:
• Residents in regional Australia have lower support for immigration, cultural diversity
and the resettlement of asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia than
respondents living in capital cities.
• Residents in regional areas are more likely to consider Australia’s immigration intake
to be too high with 44% of people holding this view, compared to 36% in capital cities
- but in both areas, this is a minority view.
• Residents in Melbourne and Canberra have the highest level of support for cultural
diversity, compared with those in Brisbane and Perth who are most negative.
• The lowest level of trust in the federal government was in Victoria, the highest level
in Queensland and Western Australia.

To download a copy of the report, click here.