Monday, February 04, 2008

Australia's tribes on the move?

Does ethnicity matter? For evidence that it does, consider the article by Deidre Macken in the Financial Review ("Australia's tribes are making new tracks" 25/01/08 - subscription only).

The gist of the article is that when it comes to choosing where to live, people prefer to settle within their own ethnic communities. This is true of both immigrants and more established Anglo-Australian populations:

More than ever, migrants are settling in areas that reflect their ethnicity ... While migrants have always tended to follow in the tracks of kith and kin, Australian-born citizens are now doing the same ...

Macken summarises population shifts within Sydney this way:

In older suburbs, such as Parramatta and Bankstown, the adult populations are almost 70% ethnic. In new housing estates on the fringes, the population has mostly Anglo ancestry.

Much of the Anglo movement is from the western suburbs of Sydney to places like Gosford to the north:

in the five year period to 2001, Gosford got 49,000 new residents from elsewhere in Australia and only 4000 from overseas. What's more, a quarter of those new Australian residents came from the western suburbs of Sydney. The Gosford area is the major destination for refugees from western Sydney.

There has been a similar movement to Camden in the south-west. This helps to explain the fierce opposition by locals to the establishment of an Islamic school in Camden. Macken quotes researcher Gabrielle Gwyther as follows:

[Camden] is the white-flight suburb of the south-west. People who grew up in Liverpool, Bankstown or Auburn move up into the new estates of Camden, which are even designed to look like English garden estates.

Camden has always been an English town and they hold onto their tradition dearly. That's why the proposal for an Islamic school there sent them beserk - that's what they moved away from when they left Auburn, Greenacre and the like.

There is not only a population movement within Sydney, but also from Sydney:

Sydney has been losing 20,000 to 30,000 residents a year and, according to [Professor] Birrell, "most of those go to northern NSW and Queensland, and most of those would be Anglo-Australians".

The point to be made is that when it comes to something as important as choosing a place to live, ethnicity does matter. People are more likely to feel that they are part of a living community and tradition when they live largely amongst their own ethnic group.


  1. The most spectacular white flight I've observed has been in East London, where locals have moved out of the Central and Eastern suburbs like East Ham into "deepest Essex."

    I'd imagine the number of white who've moved out since the early 1970s must number in the millions.

    Among other things, this kind of mass movement has to be destructive of a region's history and culture.

    Perhaps, this is why the left likes to make fun of white flight 'cowboy towns' in television comedies etc.

    However, the multicultural big city quickly loses its appeal for those who suddenly find themselves married with children on the way.

  2. Thanks, these statistics paint a pretty clear picture. I have referenced this post.