In an Australian first nearly 2,000 young people aged 15 to 25 from refugee and migrant backgrounds have taken part in a census run by the University of Melbourne with eight community organisations and government agencies, including the Victorian Government and the Centre for Multicultural Youth. The census took place in September and October 2017.
The Multicultural Youth Australia Census Status Report provides an overview of how culturally diverse young people are faring in different spheres of life. The report will help policymakers and organisations to shape youth policies and provide better services to culturally diverse young people.
The Minister for Youth, Gabrielle Williams launched the report at the University of Melbourne on 30 January 2019.
Main findings from the report
Multicultural young people express their identity in many different ways, and they are strongly connected to their families. They feel a strong sense of belonging to Australia, and they are very involved in cultural, civic and social activities. They have a strong sense of their own cultural identity but also have an interest in other cultures.
These young people identified discrimination as one of the most important issues facing Australia. However, despite discrimination and other barriers, they are very optimistic.
Of the young people who took the census, more than three quarters (77%) were born overseas, 18% were Australian born with at least one parent born overseas and 5% were Australian born with both parents born in Australia.
84% sought out different cultural experiences, and 82% said it was important to maintain their cultural heritage
Almost three-quarters (73%) felt they belonged to more than one culture.
Values and goals
The top two values and goals for multicultural youth were ‘having a job they were passionate about’ (61%), and ‘being active in working for a better society’ (45%).
Almost 9 in 10 expressed confidence in their ability to achieve their goals, be it at work or study: 86% said they feel ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ about reaching their future goals.
When asked about ‘issues of personal concern’ they mentioned school or study problems (20%) and discrimination (18%) as the top two most important issues.
Almost two-thirds (66%) of those who had experienced discrimination indicated that this was because of their race, while one-quarter (25%) was discriminated against because of religion.
Almost half (49%) of refugee and migrant young people had experienced some form of discrimination or unfair treatment in the 12 months prior to the census.
Almost two thirds (64%) had witnessed someone else being unfairly treated or discriminated against in the 12 months prior to the census. Most of those who had witnessed discrimination said it was on the basis of race (72%), religion (46%), sexuality (43%) and gender (42%).
Over one third (38%) felt either ‘unsafe’ or ‘very unsafe’ when walking alone at night. Young women are almost 4 times more likely to feel unsafe than young men.
Almost half were ‘unemployed’ or ‘underemployed’. Racial discrimination was the most commonly cited reason why it was difficult to find work.