Which of the following is true of the demographic trends throughout most of western culture?

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Australia is a vibrant, multicultural country. We are home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures, as well as Australians who identify with more than 270 ancestries. Since 1945, almost seven million people have migrated to Australia. 

Which of the following is true of the demographic trends throughout most of western culture?

This rich, cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths. It is central to our national identity.

In 1975, the Racial Discrimination Act came into force, making discrimination in different parts of public life against the law. The Act, which was Australia’s first federal anti-discrimination law, formalised our commitment to the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

In 1995, the Act was extended to make public acts of racial hatred against the law. Today, the Act continues to send a strong message about our common commitment to racial equality and the importance of a fair go for all.

Despite this legal protection, too many people in Australia continue to experience prejudice and unfair treatment because of how they look or where they come from.

About cultural diversity in Australia

  • One in four of Australia’s 22 million people were born overseas; 46 per cent have at least one parent who was born overseas; and nearly 20 per cent of Australians speak a language other than English at home.[1]
  • In 2013, overseas migration represented 60 per cent of Australia’s population growth in the year.[2]
  • People born in the United Kingdom continue to be the largest group of overseas-born residents (5.3 per cent), followed by New Zealand (2.6 per cent), China (1.8 per cent), India (1.6 per cent) and Vietnam (0.9 per cent).[3] In 2013-14, 163 017 people from more than 190 countries were approved to become Australian citizens.[4]
  • Migrants make an enormous contribution to Australia’s economy and provide an estimated fiscal benefit of over 10 billion dollars in their first ten years of settlement.[5] In 2010-11, international education activity contributed $16.3 billion to the Australian economy.[6]

Barriers to racial equality

  • One in ten Australians (1.5 million of the nation’s adult population) believe that some races are inferior or superior to others.[7]
  • 18 per cent of Australians surveyed said they had experienced discrimination because of skin colour, ethnic origin or religion.[8] The most often reported location of discrimination was the neighbourhood (58 per cent), followed by shopping centres (42.8 per cent) and at work (39 per cent).[9]
  • Of the 500 complaints lodged under the Racial Discrimination Act in 2012-2013, 192 related to incidents of racial hatred. This was a 59 per cent increase over the previous year, with a large proportion of the complaints (41 per cent) involving material on the Internet.[10]
  • Around one in three (35 per cent) recent migrants said they faced hurdles in finding their first job. Of those who experienced difficulties:
    • 64 per cent reported a lack of Australian work experience or references,
    • 33 per cent experienced language difficulties
    • 23 per cent reported a lack of local contacts or networks
    • 15 per cent had difficulties having their skills or qualifications recognised.[11]

Positive developments

  • Most new migrants say they feel a strong sense of belonging to Australia and that this feeling deepens over time.[12]
  • Most Australians (86 per cent) support action to tackle racism in Australia.[13]
  • Since being launched in 2012, over 200 organisations – from the business, sports, education, local government and community sectors – have signed on as supporters of the national anti-racism campaign, Racism. It Stops with Me.

Did you know?

  • The vast majority of Australians (84 per cent) believe that multiculturalism has been good for Australia.[14]

Our role

The Commission helps people resolve complaints of discrimination under the Racial Discrimination Act. The Act protects people across Australia from unfair treatment on the basis of their race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin. It also makes racial vilification against the law.

The Race Discrimination Commissioner undertakes a wide range of activities to address racism and racial discrimination, which includes implementing the National Anti-Racism Strategy and coordinating the national anti-racism campaign, Racism. It Stops with Me.

The Commissioner also undertakes research projects and provides policy advice on issues affecting different groups in the community.

Find out more about our work in this area.

Find out more

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4102.0-Australian Social Trends (April 2013).
[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics,3101.0-Australian Demographic Statistics, September 2013 (March 2014).
[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3412.0-Migration, Australia, 2011-12 and 2012-13 (December 2013).
[4] Department of Immigration and Border Protection: Facts and Statistics - Australian citizenship statistics (2014).
[5] Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Trends in Migration: Australia 2010–11 (2012), p 109.
[6] Australian Education International, Export Income to Australia from Education Services in 2010–11 (November 2011).
[7] University of Western Sydney, Challenging Racism Project: National level findings (2008), p 2.
[8] Scanlon Foundation, Mapping Social Cohesion 2014: National report (2014), p 23.
[9] Scanlon Foundation, above, p 24.
[10] Australian Human Rights Commission, Annual Report 2012-2013 (2013), pp 132-133.
[11] Australian Bureau of Statistics, 6250.0-Characteristics of Recent Migrants, Australia, November 2010 (May 2011).
[12] Ipsos-Eureka Social Research Institute, The Ipsos McKay Report: SBS Immigration Nation thought leadership research (2011), p 47.
[13] University of Western Sydney, note 7, p 3.
[14] Scanlon Foundation, note ‎8, p 43.

  • Introduction & Quick Facts
  • Pre-Mughal Indian dynasties

India: Age breakdown

India’s population is young. Its birth and death rates are both near the global average. More than half the population is under age 30 and less than one-fourth is age 45 or older. Life expectancy is about 68 for men and 70 for women.

A population explosion in India commenced following the great influenza epidemic of 1918–19. In subsequent decades there was a steadily accelerating rate of growth up to the census of 1961, after which the rate leveled off (though it remained high). The total population in 1921 within the present borders of India (i.e., excluding what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh) was 251 million, and in 1947, at the time of independence, it was about 340 million. India’s population doubled between 1947 and the 1981 census, and by the 2001 census it had surpassed one billion. The increase between 1991 and 2001 alone—more than 182 million—was greater than the total present-day population of all but the world’s most-populous countries, and that value was matched by the increase between 2001 and 2011. Although there has been a considerable drop in the birth rate, a much more rapid decline in the death rate has accounted for the rise in the country’s rate of population growth. Moreover, the increasing proportion of females attaining and living through their childbearing years continues to inhibit a marked reduction in the birth rate.

India: crowd

The effect of emigration from or immigration to India on the overall growth of population has been negligible throughout modern history. Within India, however, migration from relatively impoverished regions to areas, especially cities, offering some promise of economic betterment has been largely responsible for the differential growth rates from one state or region to another. In general, the larger a city, the greater its proportion of migrants to the total population and the more cosmopolitan its population mix. In Mumbai, for example, more than half of the population speaks languages other than Marathi, the principal language of the state of Maharashtra. The rates of migration to Indian cities severely tax their capacity to cope with the newcomers’ needs for housing, safe drinking water, and sanitary facilities, not to mention amenities. The result is that many migrants live in conditions of appalling squalor in bastis or, even worse, with no permanent shelter at all.

Refugees constitute another class of migrants. Some date from the 1947 partition of India and many others, especially in Assam and West Bengal, from the violent separation in 1971 of Bangladesh from Pakistan. Still others are internal refugees from the communal violence and other forms of ethnic strife that periodically beset many parts of India.

India has one of the largest, most highly diversified economies in the world, but, because of its enormous population, it is—in terms of income and gross national product (GNP) per capita—one of the poorest countries on Earth. Since independence, India has promoted a mixed economic system in which the government, constitutionally defined as “socialist,” plays a major role as central planner, regulator, investor, manager, and producer. Starting in 1951, the government based its economic planning on a series of five-year plans influenced by the Soviet model. Initially, the attempt was to boost the domestic savings rate, which more than doubled in the half century following the First Five-Year Plan (1951–55). With the Second Five-Year Plan (1956–61), the focus began to shift to import-substituting industrialization, with an emphasis on capital goods. A broad and diversified industrial base developed. However, with the collapse of the Soviet system in the early 1990s, India adopted a series of free-market reforms that fueled the growth of its middle class, and its highly educated and well-trained workforce made India one of the global centres of the high-technology boom that began in the late 20th century and produced significant annual growth rates. The agricultural sector remains the country’s main employer (about half of the workforce), though, with about one-fifth of the gross domestic product (GDP), it is no longer the largest contributor to GDP. Manufacturing remains another solid component of GDP. However, the major growth has been in trade, finance, and other services, which, collectively, are by far the largest component of GDP.

Many of the government’s decisions are highly political, especially its attempts to invest equitably among the various states of the union. Despite the government’s pervasive economic role, large corporate undertakings dominate many spheres of modern economic activity, while tens of millions of generally small agricultural holdings and petty commercial, service, and craft enterprises account for the great bulk of employment. The range of technology runs the gamut from the most traditional to the most sophisticated.

There are few things that India cannot produce, though much of what it does manufacture would not be economically competitive without the protection offered by tariffs on imported goods, which have remained high despite liberalization. In absolute terms and in relation to GDP, foreign trade traditionally has been low. Despite continued government regulation (which has remained strong in many sectors), trade expanded greatly beginning in the 1990s.

Probably no more than one-fifth of India’s vast labour force is employed in the so-called “organized” sector of the economy (e.g., mining, plantation agriculture, factory industry, utilities, and modern transportation, commercial, and service enterprises), but that small fraction generates a disproportionate share of GDP, supports most of the middle- and upper-class population, and generates most of the economic growth. It is the organized sector to which most government regulatory activity applies and in which trade unions, chambers of commerce, professional associations, and other institutions of modern capitalist economies play a significant role. Apart from rank-and-file labourers, the organized sector engages most of India’s professionals and virtually all of its vast pool of scientists and technicians.