The subject of Indians living in Australia is one which has hit the headlines of late with claims of racism and problems for a number of Indian inhabitants of the country. While many suggest that the claims of racism within Australia are overdone it is interesting to see and research the history of Indians living in Australia because this goes back many years and is not a recent phenomenon.
We will therefore discuss the pros and cons of living in Australia and potential issues for expat workers from all areas of the world.
The Australian culture
There is no doubt that the Australian culture seen today is very different to that of 10 years ago, 15 years ago and 20 years ago. The stereotypical Australian man and woman are still highly visible in some areas of the country although in many ways Australia is a country which is developing at great pace and has become something of a financial, commodities and highly successful business arena. Indeed the number of people looking to move to Australia continues to rise despite attempts by the government and local authorities to rein in immigration numbers to protect local jobs for local people.
Many people will be surprised to learn that Australia is a very diverse country with a multicultural population from around the world. In many ways the Australia we see today is still suffering from the image of yesteryear which in itself was very unfair and gave the impression that the country was unwelcoming for foreign nationals. Despite the fact that many people of Indian origin have moved to and continue to attempt to move to Australia this area of the population is still fairly small compared to the likes of English (31.65%), Irish (9%), Scottish (7.5%), Italian (4.3%), German (4.1%), Chinese (3.4%) and Greek (1.9%).
The history of Indian settlers in Australia
Over the years there have been a number of waves of Indian settlers in Australia starting over 100 years ago. They moved for very different reasons, although the fact is there has been a significant Indian presence in Australia for some time. There are many websites which track the migration of Indians living in Australia over the years with very different results and very different experiences. However, it would seem that historically, though this has changed over the last few decades, many of the original settlers from India became involved in relatively low skilled and low paid employment to allow themselves to start a new life in a new country.
A recent report suggested that India will become the largest populated country in the world, even beating China, by 2025 which perfectly illustrates the expected increase in migration from India to countries such as Australia. There is also the “Commonwealth connection” with both Australia and India still part of the UK Commonwealth and therefore having historic ties.
Life in Australia for Indian settlers
As seems to be the norm in the worldwide press, once a subject such as alleged racism and problems between various cultures and various races hits the headlines we have a number of people coming forward with different allegations and different comments. Under the surface there appears to be a growing backlash against not only Indian settlers in Australia but also immigrants from various different countries around the world. We have also seen a number of very high profile and very large demonstrations by the likes of Indian students in Australia which has been stoked the flames of the friction between various parties within the Australian population.
It is easy to forget that many Indians living in Australia come from families which found the experience very difficult in the early years and were forced to work their way up from the bottom. Many also believe that an alleged “whites only” immigration policy of years gone by, which was lifted some time ago, may well have added to the friction between various migrant groups within Australia. However, the truth is that Australia has welcomed many different cultures and many different races over the years, something which is prevalent during a simple walk down the streets of Melbourne and other prominent cities in Australia.
Education for the Indian population in Australia
A number of people have commented with regards to Australian universities and education facilities actively pursuing overseas students such as those from India. A number of people have also suggested one of the reasons for this is a reduction, in real terms, of state funding for the further education system. Whether the issue of funding is correct, there is no doubt that Indian students, who are forced to pay their way during education in Australia, have been pursued fairly aggressively along with other cultures and other groups of the worldwide population.
This ongoing increase in Indian students in Australia has led to friction within the workplace something which has been magnified significantly by the recent worldwide economic downturn. Despite the fact that the Australian authorities have been applauded due to their handling of the economic crisis there is still a feeling that the authorities need to maintain a hold on “Australian jobs for Australian people”. This in itself could be seen as a highly provocative comment although the truth is that many other countries around the world have indeed been put under pressure to officially instigate similar policies.
Interracial friction in Australia
It would appear that back in 2009 Indian students in Australia were the victims of unprovoked attacks across the country many of which were highlighted as being allegedly racist by the Australian authorities. The very fact that the authorities and the police received so much criticism after these attacks have certainly led to further unrest and unwelcome comments across-the-board. In some areas of the Indian population Australia there is a deep-seated mistrust of the authorities and police which has led to further problems with regards to integrating different cultures and different groups of the Australian population.
Thankfully the vast majority of the Australian population, made up of a variety of different cultures and races, came out in support of the Indian students and they were appalled by the allegations of racism. It is unclear exactly how and when this friction between various cultures in Australia began although some have questioned the integration of cultures because there are definite pockets of expats workers in and around the major cities and countryside of Australia.
The increase in the Indian population in Australia
If there is one area of the Australian way of life which perfectly illustrates the increase in Indians living in Australia it is the education system. Between 2004 and 2009 the number of Indians studying in Australia increased from 30,000 to 97,000. The vast majority of Indian students centre round Melbourne and Adelaide although there are still significant pockets around Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and other areas of Australia. The vast majority initially came with the intention of further education although many are now looking for permanent residency in Australia. Due to the fact that Indian students in Australia have to pay for their education many have been struggling to get by on a financial basis leading to allegations of discrimination and exploitation in housing and jobs. It would also appear that a number of students have been forced into cheaper accommodation on the very outskirts of Australia’s larger cities which has increased the friction between various cultures and various parties.
The new breed of Indian entrepreneur
While historically many of the earlier Indian settlers in Australia were forced to take on very primitive and very low paid work there has been a significant change in this particular culture over the last 20 years. India is now a hive of information technology gurus and entrepreneurs and many of this new breed of entrepreneurs have moved to Australia to further enhance their skills and their experiences. It is common knowledge that the Australian information technology and Internet sectors were fairly slow to get off the ground in years gone by and while they have made up much of the shortfall in recent times there is still a need to bring in outside assistance in many areas.
This in itself has caused more friction between the various parties within Australia despite the fact that in time the gap between the skills and experiences of the traditional Australian workforce and those of many immigrant entrepreneurs will reduce. However, during this period of rebalancing within the Australian workforce it is likely that we will see more overseas entrepreneurs, many from India, taking on very prominent roles within the business community of Australia.
The future for Indians living in Australia
There is no doubt that the last few years have been difficult for some areas of the Indian population in Australia with Indian students attracting the most attention and in many cases becoming involved in various confrontations due to no fault of their own. However, it would be wrong to suggest that all Australians have any kind of grievance against Indian immigrants or any other cultures or races now present within their communities. A number of experts have come forward to suggest that while there is an issue with regards to racial friction this has not been helped by media comment and media headlines on both sides.
Unfortunately there has also been friction between the Australian authorities and the Indian authorities not to mention the relevant national media companies. However, thankfully the underlying Australian population have stepped forward to show their support for expat workers and students within Australia. It is easy to forget that many expat workers and students in Australia, from many cultures and many races, have made a major contribution to the overall improvement of the Australian economy and development of the Australian employment market. Many hope that the friction and violence of recent times is now behind us and with all parties now pulling in the same direction we can look forward to the future with a certain degree of confidence.
Australian immigration policy
The Australian immigration policy is one which has been under scrutiny for some time now with many suggesting the existence of a “whites only” policy in years gone by. Whether officially this is the case there would appear to be some credibility to these accusations although that would now appear to be a thing of the past. The truth is that the Australian authorities are now looking to rein in the number of overseas students and overseas workers looking to move to the country as a means of protecting the underlying existing Australian population in terms of education and employment.
Whether the authorities have gone about this particular task in the correct manner and a fair manner is a matter for scrutiny and further discussion although the truth is that the recent racial friction in Australia is not necessarily linked to the country’s current and historic immigration policy. In simple terms, if you have a skill or experience which will be useful within the Australian economy then there’s every chance that you will have an opportunity, whether in the months ahead of the years ahead, to put forward a credible application for relocation. There will always be some demand for overseas students, because of the very fact they pay for their education, although we may see this figure reined in slightly in the short to medium term.
There is no doubt that the vast majority of Indians living in Australia enjoy a standard of living which compares favourably to the one they may have left behind years ago. However, full cultural integration between Indians living in Australia and the “traditional” Australian population appears to have had problems in recent years. Thankfully the authorities are now taking a more proactive role in this particular area of everyday life and the support of the vast majority of the Australian population has been welcomed.
There is also no doubt that recent economic turmoil around the world has increased tensions between different cultural workforces in different countries although for some reason it would appear to be more open and more visible in Australia at the moment. However, there is no doubt that many Indians living in Australia have a lot to offer and the vast majority are enjoying their new lives in a new country.