Only 3 per cent of recent migrants surveyed described Australians as “caring, friendly, hospitable”.
The annual study also found further evidence to support the finding that immigrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds are twice as likely to suffer discrimination than their English-speaking counterparts.
Since he arrived from Vietnam as a refugee in 1980, Sonny Nguyen has lost count of how many people from different ethnic groups he has employed.
He has had a few businesses over the journey, but says he likes the workforce in his fledgling cafe to reflect the “feel” of Footscray in Melbourne’s multicultural west.
Mr Nguyen’s experiences confirm the findings of Australia’s largest study into social cohesion and cultural diversity released in Canberra today.
Read: Mapping Social Cohesion 2013 National report
Part-time waitress Fatoumata Diallo is also an international student. She says her 18 months in Australia has been overwhelmingly positive.
“No I haven’t felt any discrimination or any kind of distance from some people,” she told SBS.
But her colleague, Vietnamese-born Chung Dinh says she was abused and underpaid in a previous job largely due to her poor English skills,
“I feel really bad, I feel really bad at that time.”
Monash University professor Andrew Markus led the research. He says 81 per cent of those who arrived between 2000 and 2010 are satisfied in Australia. But he adds for many others, skin colour, ethnicity and religion can make them a target of racial abuse.
“There’s high reported discrimination and the discrimination is particularly evident from immigrants who have come from the Asian region.”
More than 40 per cent of immigrants from China, Hong Kong, India and Sri Lanka report discrimination on the basis of appearance. But for arrivals from the United Kingdom and Ireland, reports of discrimination were as low as 12 per cent.
A second survey examined a range of issues relating to cultural diversity in two urban and three regional communities.
In the Perth suburb of Mirrabooka, which is a hub for African and Asian immigrants, 65 per cent of those surveyed reported feeling unsafe when walking alone after dark.
“People highlight quite significant concerns, including concern about ethnic tensions [but] we found that in regional centres, communities were more cohesive,” Professor Markus said.
The Australian Multicultural Council will assess the research and make recommendations to federal government.
The local areas report and recent arrivals report can be found here.
Have your say in the comments section below: Are Australians uncaring, unfriendly, inhospitable?