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Media Release: Tony Abbott and kangaroos the face of Australia, survey finds

12 May 20140 comments

Tony Abbott is the most famous Australian among new arrivals to the country and the Kangaroo is the nation’s most recognisable symbol, a new survey has found.

Around 35 per cent of respondents to a survey of newly arrived migrants and refugees chose the Prime Minister Mr Abbott as the most famous Australian.

Twelve per cent said Russell Crowe and Ricky Ponting were the most famous Aussies while seven per cent plumped for Nicole Kidman. Hugh Jackman and Bill Shorten polled six per cent and four per cent respectively.

Kangaroos were overwhelmingly the most recognisable symbol of Australia with 54 per cent of respondents citing the marsupial.

Thirteen per cent of respondents cited ‘freedom of speech’ as the greatest symbol of Australia and 12 per cent said ‘democracy’. Only eight per cent chose the outdoors/beaches and just six per cent said ‘sport’.

Commissioned by settlement agency AMES, the study surveyed people from 51 different nations over six weeks in September and October 2013.

Almost 60 per cent said they were happy in Australia all or most of the time. Only four per cent said they were unhappy, the survey found.

‘A better lifestyle’ (34 per cent) was the most common reason for coming to Australia while 26 per cent cited their ‘children’s future’ and 20 per cent said ‘personal safety’.

Asked whether they felt welcome in Australia, 70 per cent said they did and 14 per cent said they did most of the time. Only three per cent said they felt unwelcome.

Sixty-nine per cent said they were made to feel welcome by government and institutions and 49 per cent they found ordinary people welcoming; with another 23 per cent saying they were welcomed by ordinary people ‘most of the time’.

Getting stable work and seeing their children educated and prosper are the priorities for new arrivals; and lifestyle and leisure as well as safety and security are the things they most appreciate about Australia.

The survey found unemployment and crime or violence were the biggest immediate fears among newcomers while three quarters of respondents said life in Australia met their expectations.

Almost 90 per cent of respondents said they had not been the victims of racism. Among the 11 per cent who did experience racism were three per cent who said they had been told to “go home”.

Seeing their children educated was the most common long-term goal among the respondents (37 per cent) while 25 per cent cited running a successful business and 16 per cent owning a house.

Learning English was seen as the most important factor in settling successfully in Australia (52 per cent) with finding job being cited by 25 per cent of respondents.

Finding work was also the biggest worry among newcomers with 59 per cent saying so.

Teachers and police and emergency workers (27 and 26 per cent respectively) were the groups of people most admired by newcomers to Australia, the survey found.

It found on five per cent of respondents admired politicians and only two per cent admired celebrities while 11 per cent admired sports people.

For images, interviews and more information please contact AMES Media Advisor, Laurie Nowell at or 9938 46031 or 0498 196 500.