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Muslims’ Immigration to Australia Quantitative Research Essay


Migration could be said to be as old as humankind. The UN definition of a migrant covers “all cases where the decision to migrate is taken freely by the individual concerned, for reasons of ‘personal convenience’ and without intervention of an external compelling factor.”

On the basis of this definition, a migrant is not just a term used in reference to displaced person or refugees, or those individuals who have been forced by prevailing circumstances to flee their homes (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2010).

Prior to the settlement of Europeans into Australia, a majority of the visitors into the country were Muslims, specifically from the region of Indonesian archipelago.

During the 16th century, traders and fishermen were the main visitors into Australia (Dunn, 2004). Muslims immigrants into Australia increased in number during the 1800s following the arrival of Afghan camel drivers (Dunn, 2004), along with a number of Muslims traders from Middle East.


Egyptians were among the earliest immigrants to Australia, with about 108 migrants in 1901 (Clyne & Kipp, 1999). By 2006, this population had increased to over 33,493. This increase was especially noticeable in the late 1940s and the early 1950s, following the overthrow of the monarchy in Egypt, resulting in the rise of the Arab nationalist movement.

Most of them now live in Sydney (16,238) and Melbourne (11,156) (United Nations Statistics Division, 2006). In 1911, the number of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants in Australia was 1,527, a number that had increased to 33,424 by 1976 mainly as a result of the civil war in Lebanon that had started in 1975. By 2006, this number had once again increased to more than 71,000 (Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2008.

Following the start of the Gulf War, an increasingly higher number of Iraqis have been seen to have sought for refugee status in Australia. According to the 2001 census report, it was estimated that nearly 24,760 Iraqis were already living in Australia. They consist of the Assyrians, Assyrians, Kurds, Jews, Armenians and Turkmens.

The reasons for the need to migrate into Australia are as diverse as the nationality of these individual. Some of the most common reasons include individuals seeking for asylum due to increased incidence of violence in their war-torn countries (Ang, 2001). Accordingly, they would want to be hosted by a country that is committed to the human rights declaration for the freedom of human rights.

Also, other people migrate to Australia in search of jobs from the diverse sectors of the economy, such as in the mining and exploration industry, and the financial sector, among others. There are also those individuals moving to Australia as students, while others have been married by Australians citizens and therefore desire to move in with their families.

Nevertheless, it is important to appreciate the fact that family reunion and skilled migration make up the largest proportion of the immigrants. In recent years, the detention of illegal immigrants by the authorities has sparked huge controversies amongst the academics (Forrest & Dunn 2006).

In the period between year 2004 and 2005 a total of 123,424 people immigrants entered Australia. The composition of the Immigrants included 1,506 South American; 54,804 Africans; 2,369 eastern European; 54,804 Asians; 18,220 from the UK; and 21,131 from Oceania.

A report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that was presented in mid 2006 reveals that at the time, nearly a quarter (24%) of the entire population in Australia considered as residents of the country had been born elsewhere, representing 4,956,863 of the Australian total population (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010).

The purpose of this research paper is to examine the issue of immigration within the Australian context. In this case, the historical perspective of immigration in Australia shall be explored, along with the ensuing benefits to the immigrants and Australian as a nation.

The research paper intends to examine the issue of Arabs immigrating to Australia as a case study, and the challenges that they have had to encounter owing to the perception of held regarding Islam and Arabs as terrorists.

Increased cases of immigration into Australia

In the space of five past years the number of North African immigrants Australia has increased considerably. Within a span of four past years North African migrants entering Australia have come in the form of humanitarian entrants (Perrin & Dunn 2007).

This immigration upsurge is an attribute of a switch of the local focus of the humanitarian plan towards Africa. The largest proportion of North African migrants since 2000 to 2001 was of Sudan origin. The States of Victoria and of the New South Wales experienced the largest proportions of this influx.

The table below depicts the respective country of birth of the Australian nationality.

Country of Birth Estimated Resident Population
United Kingdom 1,153,264
New Zealand 476,719
China 279,447
Italy 220,469
Vietnam 180,352
India 153,579
Philippines 135,619
Greece 125,849
Macedonia 120,649
South Africa 118,816
Germany 114,921
Malaysia 103,947
Netherlands 86,950
Lebanon (Arabic) 86,599
Sri Lanka 70,913
Serbia and Montenegro 68,879
Indonesia (majorly Muslim) 67,952
United States 64,832
Poland 59,221
Fiji 58,815
Ireland 57,338
Croatia 56,540
Bosnia-Herzegovina 48,762

Source: Australia Bureau of Statistics, 2006 census.

From the table we are able to see that the Arabs migrants make up 86,599 of the total migrants in Australia in the year 2006. They comprise about 1.75% of the total migrants. Collectively the Muslim make up about 154,551 (majority of Indonesia are Muslims). Thus about 3.12% migrants comprise of Muslims.

Settlement patterns in Australia differ across the continent (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010). According to the census information obtained in 2006 census, the state of New South Wales comprises the major population of the continent with the largest foreign born residents (Acker 2007).

Secondly, the state of Victoria is the second largest populated state. Also, the state of Victoria has been ranked as the country’s state with the second largest group foreign-born individuals who accounts for 1,161,984 of the total population (Bryan & Rafferty 1999). Of these, 50.1% are of Turkish origin, 41.6% of Italian origins, 49.4% are of Greek descent, and 50.6% of Sri Lankan origin.

Problems associated with immigration

In a case study of a multi-ethnic residence in Dandenong (Acker 2007) the existence of clear- cut boundaries between a white and a non-white ethnicity of a migrant or Muslim background was clearly shown.

According to the opinion of an Anglo Australian manager, although the immigrants act as good source of labor for car and canning industries, they contribute significantly to an increase in the proportion of the unemployed individuals living in Australia. This situation has had a somewhat negative effect on the socio-economic aspect of the Dandenong community.

From a social point of view these groups of unemployed individuals seek welfare services to enable them contain their basic needs. However, not everybody can have their basic needs addressed by social service. As a result, those who are left out end up becoming disillusioned and frustrated. A number of them could even contemplate, or actually get involved in crime as a source for their livelihood.

In addition, they are also not in a position to make any substantial contribution to the economy of the country, seeing that they have no source of income. Besides, their children are not likely to attend good schools and they are also not in a position to afford the luxuries of life, such as nice homes, and cars.

According to Caldwell (1987), socio-economic drawback are usually prominent in the migrants residential characterized by undesirable conditions of live including discrimination by the superior ethnic groups, unemployment, and limited job opportunities. It is evident that material affluence is used to discriminate and identify or emphasize the extent otherness of the migrants from the other ethnicity.

Policies on immigration

Generally, citizenship in Australia appears to be retreating from its multicultural policies (Dunn & Mahtani 2001). The discrimination as highlighted by the media undermines the legitimacy of the migrants to live as free citizens. Dunn (2004) attributes these incidences of discrimination to the conception of Hanson Pauline’s one nation party in 1990.

One nation party’s focused on the anxiety of the citizens in as far as the issue of social transformation is concerned. In addition, the one nation party was actively focused on multiculturalism, indigenous affairs and immigration as the source of social fragmentation. These objectives were further reinforced following the 1996 inauguration of the liberal-national party coalition central government.

According to Bowen (2010), this government has largely been credited for the pivotal role that it played in such important national issues as the reduction of the rates of immigration, stiffening of the entrance qualification, and decreasing access to welfare by migrants by closure of the office of multicultural affairs, among others.

The 2001 election campaign was largely based on moral panics concerning ethnic crime including race raping, particularly in Sydney (Clyne & Kipp n. d.) ; imminent increase in the number of illegitimate migrants in Australia (Dunn et al 2004); increased terrorist attacks in the U.S. and the Bali bombings.

As a result, this culminated in the incorporation of the matters of crime and policing, cultural harmony and border security into the national integrity and welfare (Perrin & Dunn 2007). This political atmosphere has a role in the marginalization of migrants of Arabic and Muslim origin.

Base on the study of Immigrants to Australia, some settlement policies on fresh migrants had already been estimated. It is supposed that the changes that have been made to the settlement policies could very likely have influenced the constituent of the intake and subsequent behaviors of the migrant following their intake (Australian Consulate-General 2010).

It is particularly important to note that a decrease in the humanitarian class (refugees), English language test, and a stiffening of the point test are some of the changes in the selection procedure which have made it increasingly difficult for family members to settle in Australia. This policy reform has probably determined the human capital characteristics of the migrants.

The second important reform was in the eligibility for joblessness and social security reimbursement (Dunn 2004). Initially the migrants would wait for a space of six months to qualify for the social security reimbursement. Later the space of time a migrant would take before qualifying for this service increased by two years, alongside the stiffening of the procedures for acquiring these reimbursements.

The reforms determine the choice of prospect migrants in as far as the decision to apply to settle in Australia is concerned. The issue of inaccessibility to social security reimbursement could also have a profound influence on the labor market behavior of these migrant through their reservation wages.

Discrimination of the Arabic and Muslim migrants

According to Forrest and Dunn (2007), following the 11 September, 2001 terrorist bombing of the Twin Towers in New York City, the United States, immigrants of Arabic origin have been subjected to various forms of discrimination.

Such acts of prejudice range from institutional segregation, cultural stereotyping, vandalism and assort, harassment and verbal abuse in the workplace, school, street particularly the female Arabs or Muslim Australian; assault and physical violence; and different forms of social incivility (Dunn 2001).

The various surveys that have been carried out on the Anglo migrants depict a general attitude towards their Arabs counterpart that is filled with a certain amount of negativity. These Anglo immigrants are fully convinced that the presence of the Arabs and Muslims in different regions of Australia make them uneasy, angry and resentful, in effect perceiving this to portray a certain amount of displacement (Perrin & Dunn 2007).

In the 1970s, the Australian government played a pivotal role in as far as the repealing of the immigration policy on racial discrimination in the country is concerned.

As a result, Australia has witnessed an increased number of immigrants of Islamic origin, and this has necessitated the local government need to build educational facilities and mosques (and more so in Melbourne and Sydney) to cater for the increasing number of Muslims in the cities.

However, the move has not been without resistance in Australia as certain individual and groups sought to oppose the move to build mosques, a scenario which may at best, be regarded as being anti-Islamic sentiment (Bugg, n. d., p. 2).

The resistance also symbolizes the significance of place as competitive terrain where class, politics, identity and power interact, and not just a physical location. The universities in Australia have also not been left out either on this matter.

For example, during the 2008/2009 academic year, an important campaign was undertaken at the Melbourne-based RMIT University. This campaign, which was quite successful, was aimed at ensuring that the dedicated prayers rooms for Muslims available on campus were returned (Ward & Wood 2009).

The migrants of British origin constitute the majority of the Australian population, and the represent the superior ethnic group. This is evident from the view points of male Anglo seniors who believe that unlike their Arabs counterparts who have Muslim enclave, they are devoid of social tensions.

Their remarks about the Arabs clearly portray the racial prejudice they hold against them, from the point of view of social aspects (Dunn et al 2004). Certainly, the Arabs migrants are responsible for adverse events in a society. These events are the results of the strong religious doctrines they hold against the non-Muslim member of the community.

The Anglo senior men attribute their sense of exclusion from certain areas, in this regard, Arncliffe, to the dreadful Islamic existence. From the interview, we can depict that the seniors blame their feeling of fear and displacement to the Arabic migrants (Perrin & Dunn 2007).

The terrorist attacks that were carried out on the twin Towers in New York City on September 11 culminated in a worldwide prejudice against the Muslim community. From that point on, an increasingly number of individuals changes their perception regarding the Muslims, and they would now been associated with acts of terrorism, and therefore were treated as a source of threat to national security by many countries.

Consequently, it became increasingly hard for an individual of Muslim of Arab origin to gain entrance to a majority of the foreign nations, let alone secure immigration rights. With regard to Australia, the Bali bombing, besides the September attack, heightened racial bias against the Muslim Arabic Australian (Clyne & Kipp n. d.).

According to the records gathered by the human rights and equal opportunity commission, a Muslim Australian is subject to considerable discrimination and ‘race talk.’ In addition, a survey that targeted Arabs and Muslims respondents depicted that 75% Arab Muslim had been subject to racial violence and abuse since the September 11, terrorist attack (Dunn et al 2007).

Moreover, the study by Forrest and Dunn (2007), depicted how the everyday racisms at the ethnic and individual level was higher than the institutional form; workplace, learning, police and housing. An estimate of one in every six Australian was subject to institutional racism (Dunn et al. 2004).

On the other hand about 25% of Australian experienced everyday racism in restraints, retail shops, sports, disrespectful treatment on the account of ethnic difference, and name address.

Dunn, Klocker, and Salabay (2007) argue that in Australia, current anti-Muslim sentiment is a product of racialization that entails sensitivity of threat and inadequacy, well practiced stereotypes of Islam, and delusion that the Other (in this context the Australian Arabic Muslims) lack the sense of belonging.

These acts of racisms are not out dated color-based segregation; instead they depict specific characteristics which are evidence of racialization process in regard to Arab Muslims.

On the basis of the three levels of findings, the structure of Islam is the prominent means by which racism is often propagated. To begin with, surveys on public opinion have played a leading role in helping to disclose the level of Islamaphobia among the various states of Australia, and the relevance between threat acuity and perception of foreignness and Otherness.

In addition, the set of information was derived from a constituent examination of the racialized affliction of Muslims and their respective spaces. The third cluster of information was derived from an evaluation of the underlying forces of Islamaphobia, and national cultural segregation in the affairs of state response to refuge seekers.

Harmful media harassment is strongly connected to antagonistic government characteristics. This adversity has had substantial effects on the Australian Muslims.

This is because it supports a more pervasive Islamaphobia, misguided opposition to mosque expansion and constantly more restraining asylum seeker strategy, and disguises in the form of racist violence and arson attacks. Eventually, the racialization of Islam undermines the sense of belonging and residency for Arab Muslim Australians.

The present day Australia is in confusing state as a nation of co-existence between multiculturalism and various forms of racisms. According to the survey of Sydney population, using the social constructivist initiative to scrutinize the characteristic and sociospatial circumstance of racist conduct in Australia’s largest EthniCity, Sydney.

The findings of the studies depict a combination of compositional and contextual relations with racisms (Forrest & Dunn 2007). The former suggests a broad inconsistent affiliation between socioeconomic position and patience, as well as between cultural variation and patience. Nevertheless, the latter, depicts a place centered cultures of tolerance and intolerance influencing compositional affairs.

Therefore, distribution of racism in Sydney augments a level of understanding unequaled by the aspatial study alone. This gives insight of the intricacy of restricted political cultures and can be used in the formulation of anti-racism involvement.

Failure of acknowledgement remains one of the key means of re-inscribing the other. In the anti-mosque opposition in Sydney depict a form of discrimination which manifest as a discourse of nonexistence.

Sydney Arabic Muslims have been represented as non-residential inside or outside the situations where mosques prospects have been proposed (Forest & Dunn 2007).. In these contexts right of belonging and residency by Sydney Arab Muslims have principally been violated.

Census statistics have been used to dispute the contemporary and historical constructions of Islamic nonexistence in Australia. Sydney Arab Muslims are diversified in their culture, besides their disparity in faith groups. Their presence is increasingly felt in regions beyond their apparent zones of residential center.

This assortment and dynamism considerably pose a challenge for the development in Islamic community’s development (Ummah) in Sydney and provide a strong basement for further investigation.

The negative misconceptions about Muslim around the globe represent Muslims as intolerant, fanatical, aggressive, misogynist, fundamentalist, and most importantly, alien.

The various misconception of Islam had different application by the mosque development opposition in Sydney state of Australia in the period of the 1980s and 1990s (Dunn 2001). Dedication and intolerance are characteristics of Islam which until the present time have experienced centuries of manipulation in the West.

Their reiterative manipulations have lead to the attainment of extensive potency. For instance in Sydney, they were deployed in planning determinations and political course of choice within local governments.

The accusations of aggression and misogyny did not effortlessly transformed into the basis for the numerous oppositions of the mosque development (Dunn 2001); instead they formed the basis for heightening civilian discomfort and widening antagonism.

In addition, the local governments declined expansion consent for mosques on the account of the misplacement of the characteristic of the proposals to the surrounding development, underpinning the construction of mosques to be alien and misplaced.

Only did the discourse of opposition towards mosque development was not shallowly based on stereotypes of Islam, instead it relied intensely on the cultural framework of the composition of a local nationality and society. Mosque expansion supporters a counter construction of Muslim as ordinary local citizen, tolerant, family oriented, peaceful and moderate (Islamic Council of New South Wales 2004).


The prominent elements and research issues for the respective social scientists are in threefold. To begin with, the international geopolitics and domestic politics of this humanitarian movement demands critical assessment. Second, the suitability of housing services demands evaluation (Perrin & Dunn 2007).

Particularly, the impact and worth of privatizing service delivery the humanitarian entrants requires rigorous systematic evaluation. Lastly, more knowledge about the cultural adaptation of this group of people is crucial to allow for more considerate decision, specifically with regard of the youth.

As a result, a study on the experiences of racism and the relative existence and suitability of anti-racism policies is an important undertaking that needs to be addressed as a matter of great urgency.

Reforms in the industrial relations policy have had a negative impact on the employees who are disadvantaged from a social point of view. Consequently, this has resulted in the equity consideration for susceptible workers particularly the migrants, women and young persons.

Based on the research findings of academicians in the field of immigration, the work choices policies of Australian government presided by Howard does not take into consideration the predicaments of these disadvantaged class of people. They do not offer any prospects for the lowly paid labor force (Acker 2007).

Reference List

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (2006). Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups (ASCRG), cat. No. 1266.0, ABS, Canberra.

Acker, E. (2007). . Web.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2010). Australia’s Population. Web.

Australian Consulate-General., 2010. Skilled Migration to Australia. Visa and Citizenship Section. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Web.

Bowen ,C., 2010. Changes to Australia’s skilled migration program. Web.

Bugg, L., Religious Freedom and the Right to the City: Local Government Planning and the Rejection of Islamic Schools in Sydney, Australia. Department of Sociology and Social Policy. The University of Sydney, Australia. Web.

Bryan, D. & Rafferty, M., 1999,. The Global Economy in Australia. Sydney, UK: Allen and Unwin.

Caldwell, J. C. (1987). “Chapter 2: Population”. In Wray Vamplew (ed.). Clyne,M.& Kipp.S.n.d”pluricentric languages in an immigration context;Spanish ,Arabic, Chinese” Walter de Gruyter&Co,Berlin. Web.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship., 2008. The People Of Australia. Web.

Dunn, K. M., 2004: “Islam in Australia: contesting the discourse of absence”, The Australian Geographer, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 333-353.

Dunn, K. M., Klocker, N. & Salabay, T., 2007: “Contemporary racism and Islamaphobia in Australia: racialising religion”, Ethnicities, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 564-589.

Dunn, K. M., Forrest, J., Burnley, I. & McDonald, A., 2004: “Constructing racism in Australia”, Australian Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 409-430.

Dunn, K. M. & Mahtani, M., 2001: “Media representations of ethnic minorities”, Progress in Planning, Vol. 55, No. 3,pp. 163-72.

Dunn, K. M., 2001: “Representations of Islam in the politics of mosque development in Sydney”, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Vol. 92, No. 3, pp. 291-308

Forrest, J. & Dunn, K. M., 2007: “Constructing racism in Sydney, Australia’s largest ethni city”, Urban Studies, Vol. 44, No. 4, pp. 699-721

Perrin, R-L., & Dunn, K. M., 2007: “Tracking the settlement of North African immigrants: Speculations on the Social and Cultural Impacts of a Newly Arrived Migrant Group. The Australian Geographer, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 253-273.

United Nations Statistics Division., 2006. . Web.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2010) Social and Human Sciences, Migrant/ Migration. Web.

Ward, L., Wood, K., 2009. ‘Right the wrong’: the RMIT University Muslim Prayer Room Campaign 2008-2009.

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