Australia’s immigration program is causing a demographic shift in Sydney’s western suburbs and parts of Melbourne, with the low-income ethnic groups struggling with congestion and social dislocation, caution experts, according to the Weekend Australian.
Huge numbers of newly arrived immigrants who are facing difficulty to seek employment have entered the western part of Sydney, a census-based research commissioned by the publication showed. An exodus of wealthy locals from western Sydney is taking place at an equally substantial rate, the research revealed.
Over a period of five years till 2016, up to two-thirds of the 266,000 new arrivals in Sydney’s western suburbs were not born in Australia and did not have an Anglo heritage. On the other hand, out of those people who departed from the area in the same period, 63 percent of the 183,000 were born in Australia. Also, an added 5 percent were born in Britain or New Zealand.
Australia’s New South Wales Labor leader Luke Foley had earlier used the term “white flight” to describe suburbs in western Sydney where “Anglo” families are reportedly fleeing with migrants moving in. “I’m saying, what about that middle ring of suburbs that have experienced, if anything, just a slow decline. In terms of employment, in terms of white flight — where many Anglo families have moved out?,” Foley was earlier quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.
His use of the term was then criticized by many on the social media, with some calling it racist.
Foley later apologized for using the term, saying, “I won’t use that term again. Some people find it offensive, so I apologize. I want the entire focus to be on growing jobs and building better schools and Tafes in these suburbs,” he said, the Guardian reported.
Bob Birrell, the head of the Australian Population Research Institute, said that evidence showed that Foley was correct about population movements in the western suburbs of Sydney, although the words that he chose to phrase the issue were politically unfortunate. “It’s a real phenomenon,” Birrell said, as per the report.
He added that cheap and affordable housing was driving migrants to Sydney’s west, and making residents move out since they did not relate to their suburb anymore and could afford moving. “The only immediate solution to take the heat out of population stress was to cut back on overseas migration,” Birrell said.
The changing demographic landscape in the country is raising other concerns as well. Amid growing concerns that more than one million people could have little to no English skills in Australia by 2021, the Turnbull government is considering a mandatory basic English language requirement for all permanent resident immigrants. According to census data, with its current growth rate, Australia will be home to one million people who do not speak English or don’t speak English well by 2021.