Last week the Aussie population surpassed 25 million which triggered a debate on the current level of migration, following a warning from Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge earlier this month that the country is heading for “separatist multiculturalism”.
Now Tudge has revealed that the government are considering introducing incentives to tempt skilled migrants away from major cities – with 87 per cent currently residing in Melbourne and Sydney alone – and to settle in regional areas of the country where they’re “crying out” for more skilled workers.
“Those two cities have been growing very, very fast, to the extent that there are some significant population pressures in many parts of Melbourne and Sydney,” Tudge told the ABC on Sunday. “In other parts of the country we have mayors, or indeed state premiers crying out for more people, and they want their populations to grow and they have the jobs to support it.
“That’s why we are seriously looking at this question, to see whether or not we can provide further incentives for new arrivals to want to go to some of the smaller states, such as South Australia, and then perhaps further conditions upon visas to at least require that person to stay there for a few years where they hopefully will make it their home, and before they become a citizen.”
Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister @AlanTudgeMP tells @PatsKarvelas he is “seriously looking” at introducing incentives for new Australians to live in regional areas, and visa conditions to ensure they stay there for a prolonged periods of time.#NationalWrap #auspol pic.twitter.com/Cl5gyX9RAg
— ABC News (@abcnews) August 12, 2018
However research carried out by The Conversation shows that migrants who laid down roots in regional areas, actually found it easier to integrate than those who are living in the bigger cities.
The study, funded by the Australia Research Council, looked at 155 newly arrived adult refugees and 59 children from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan who settled in Queensland, across suburban Brisbane and in regional Logan and Toowoomba.
The findings showed that those who settled in Toowoomba actually found it easiest to integrate and said they felt part of their local communities, which was partly attributed to the warmth of the welcome they received. An overwhelming 81 per cent of those in Toowoomba claimed it has been “very easy” or “easy” for them to make friends, compared to 68 per cent in Queensland overall.
Another figure which suggests that it’s easier for immigrants to make a life in regional areas is that 100 per cent of those who settled in Toowoomba felt completely safe, with 86 per cent saying the same for Queensland overall.
Half of respondents in Queensland also said it was “very easy” or “easy” for them to talk to their Aussie neighbours. Whereas in regional Toowoomba, the number shot up to 60 per cent. While 85 per cent of all Queensland respondents believe they’ve found a neighbourhood that’s a good place to bring up children.
The only exception were migrants who moved to regional Logan, who claimed it was harder for them to get along with their local neighbours. However previous research has suggested that this could be down to a number of factors, such as the area being one of the most disadvantaged in the country.