It’s well known to all Australian that after five years 85% of immigrants to this country are still on welfare and two thirds are still unemployed. And like all well-known statistics, it’s bunk.
Where does this figure come from? The only sources I could find was the Daily Telegraph tabloid newspaper and the StormFront neo-nazi website – both reporting on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship report “Settlement Outcomes of New Arrivals 2010“.
The study selected a random sample of 20,000 immigrants who have been in the country between 12 to 60 months. So, from the get-go, none of the figures suggest that these are the outcomes after five years but a snapshot of a sample of this population group.
It says that 85% of Humanitarian immigrant households (as opposed to immigrants on the family assistance or skilled migration programs) are in receipt of Centrelink benefits. It also stresses “it must be understood that Centrelink payments are not only unemployment benefits but also include Youth Allowance, Austudy and child care rebates.” With this definition, over half the Australian population are in the same boat with 11.4 million or more than 51% of us getting some kind of regular Centrelink benefit.
Of those who have immigrated as part of the the Humanitarian program, the percentage employed grew from 18% among those who have been here between 12-24 months to 39% among those here for 48-60 months. It’s unknown at this stage whether this employment growth trend continues but the report recommends continuing the study to ten years in order to find out. Applying the same methodology to the Australian work force, given that the general workforce in Australia is listed by the ABS as 11.4 million in a country of 22 million, results in an unemployment rate of almost 52%, not to far off the oft-quoted figure of two-thirds for refugee unemployment.
It should also be noted that 35% of Humanitarian immigrants have tertiary qualifications as opposed to 39% of the general population. So comments about refugees being poor, ignorant and unable to make a contribution to the economy go out the window. I think this says more about discrimination in this country than it does about the immigrants.
I’m all for the current debate on the state of immigration policy and the future picture of the Australian population. We need to talk about it and formulate some kind of plan for the future. But, please, let’s do it from a position of knowledge rather than the dumb-as-fuck, vote-grabbing, political-point-scoring low point we’ve sunk to today.