The results of the survey, commissioned by the Scanlon Foundation and conducted by Monash University, were released today.
The survey builds on the knowledge gained in the two earlier Scanlon Foundation surveys conducted in 2007 and 2009 to provide a broad insight into Australian attitudes at a time of widespread discussion of population issues.
Together, the surveys represent the most comprehensive surveying ever undertaken of Australian attitudes on social cohesion and population issues.
Author of the survey, Monash University’s Professor Andrew Markus said there were many positives in the findings of the 2010 survey.
“Eighty-eight per cent of respondents indicate that ‘taking all things into consideration’, they are happy with their lives while 90 per cent take great pride in the Australian way of life, and 91 per cent believe that maintaining the Australian way of life and culture is important.,” Professor Markus said.
However, the survey found a sharp fall in the level of trust in the federal government, in inter-personal trust and an increase in reported experience of discrimination. Less than a third of respondents indicated that they trusted the federal government ‘to do the right thing for the Australian people’ ‘almost always’ and ‘most of the time’ – down from 48 per cent a year ago.
General questions relating to national life and levels of personal satisfaction elicited the high levels of positive response that were evident in the earlier Scanlon Foundation surveys.
“With regard to issues of population growth, there has been much discussion of future targets, polarised advocacy and claims that a large majority does not support the concept of a ‘Big Australia’. The survey found that 51 per cent of respondents considered a projected population of 36 million in 2050 as ‘too high’, 42 per cent ‘about right’ or ‘too low’,” Professor Markus said.
The 2010 survey found an increase in negative views of immigration, but the level of opposition remains low when considered in the context of surveys conducted over the last twenty years.
“There is almost an equal division between those who consider that the immigration intake is ‘too high’ (47 per cent) and ‘about right’ or ‘too low’ (45 per cent). When asked for views on the admission of asylum seekers selected overseas there was strong positive sentiment, with 67 per cent supporting the admission of people who have been assessed and found to be in need of assistance,” Professor Markus said.
A final key finding relates to a significant long-term shift in Australian opinion. The survey registers broad support for a non-discriminatory immigration program that is perceived to be furthering the national interest.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Professor Andrew Markus contact Samantha Blair, Media and Communications + 61 3 9903 4841 or 0439 013 951.