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Migrants, refugees settling well – ABS data shows

28 June 20240 comments

Migrants and refugees are settling well in Australia with high levels of English language proficiency, citizenship take up and entrepreneurialism, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Migrants are less likely to be receiving unemployment benefits than the general population and valued home ownership, the data showed.

The ABS data, for the 2019-2020 financial year, showed 82 per cent of permanent migrants who arrived in Australia within the last five years were proficient in English, compared with 91 per cent for those who arrived more than ten years ago.

“In the 2019-20 financial year, migrants were less likely to earn personal income (70 per cent) compared with the total population of Australia (76 per cent), but also less likely to receive unemployment benefits (11 per cent compared with 13 per cent),” the ABS report said.

It said more than half (59 per cent) of migrants were Australian citizens, and that Australian citizenship was highest for skilled migrants, at 64 per cent, and lowest for family migrants (48 per cent).

Citizenship take-up increased the longer migrants lived in Australia. It was 4 per cent for migrants who lived in Australia for less than five years and at 77 per cent for migrants who had lived in Australia for more than ten years.

Most likely to take up citizenship were humanitarian migrants (or refugees) at 89 per cent who had lived in Australia for more than ten years.

For migrants aged 15-64 years, the proportion of migrants enrolled in further education was five per cent, compared with six per cent of the total Australian population of a similar age.

Enrolment was highest for humanitarian migrants at 7 per cent and lowest for Family migrants 3 per cent.

Migrants who arrived since 2000 were more likely to be enrolled in study the longer they lived in Australia.

“Of migrants aged 15-64 years and enrolled in further education, 20 per cent obtained a qualification in 2019, the same proportion as the total Australian population aged 15-64 years,” the report said.

“This was highest for skilled migrants, at 21 per cent, and lowest for humanitarian migrants, at 15 per cent.

“Across all visa streams, this proportion was lowest for migrants who lived in Australia for less than five years.”

The relative proportions were: 15 per cent for migrants who lived in Australia for less than five years; 19 per cent for migrants who lived in Australia for five to ten years, and; 20 per cent for migrants who lived in Australia for more than ten years.

The ABS data showed that in 2019-20, for people aged 15-64 years, the proportion of migrants who earned personal income was 70 per cent, compared with 76 per cent of the total Australian population of a similar age.

This was: highest for Skilled migrants, at 76 per cent, and lowest for humanitarian migrants, at 49 per cent.

“By visa stream, the proportions of migrants who earned personal income varied by length of time in Australia with skilled migrants being less likely to earn personal income the longer they lived in Australia,” the report said.

It said migrants tended to transition from living in rented housing to owning their homes.

The proportion of migrants who owned their home with a mortgage or outright was 62 per cent, compared with 69 per cent for the total population of Australia.

Home ownership was highest for skilled migrants, at 65 per cent, and lowest for humanitarian migrants, at 38 per cent.

But the data showed home ownership increased the longer migrants lived in Australia, with 38 per cent of migrants, who had lived in Australia for less than five years owning a home – rising to 71per cent for migrants who lived in Australia for more than ten years.

The report also showed family and humanitarian migrants were more likely to earn personal income the longer they lived in Australia.

For humanitarian migrants, it was 26 per cent for people who had lived in Australia for less than five years, increasing to 57 per cent for those in Australia for more than 10 years.

The ABS data showed that migrants were just as likely to start a business as the general Australian population, with refugees more likely than others.

“In the 2019-20 financial year, for those aged 15-64 years, the proportion of migrants who earned own unincorporated business income was 11 per cent for all visa streams, the same proportion as the total Australian population aged 15-64 years,” the report said.

“This was highest for humanitarian migrants who lived in Australia for five to ten years, at 16 per cent, and lowest for humanitarian migrants who lived in Australia for less than five years, at six per cent.

“In the 2019-20 financial year, for those aged 15-64 years, the proportion of migrants who received unemployment payments was 11 per cent, compared with 13 per cent of the total Australian population aged 15-64 years.

“This was highest for humanitarian migrants, at 31per cent, and lowest for skilled migrants, at eight per cent.”

For migrants overall, proportions who received unemployment payments were similar, at 11 per cent regardless of time since they arrived in Australia.

CEO of migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia said the ABS data showed that migrants and refugees were committed to integrating and contributing to Australia.

“We know form our own experience working with migrant and refugee communities that they are very keen to work, contribute and become part of Australian society,” Ms Scarth said.

Read the full report: Migrant settlement outcomes, 2024 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)