Real Australians

In the last post I mentioned that in 1948 (1947 census, to be accurate) only 3% of the non-Aboriginal population of Australia — that is, of 7,637,000 people — were born outside of either Australia or the British Isles. (Aboriginal people were not included in the census until 1971, following the Referendum of 1967.)

I omitted the latest figure from 2016: Census shows 49% of population either first- or second-generation migrants, with the remaining 51% at least third generation.

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Today the Sydney Morning Herald features an interesting international Ipsos Poll. On the question Who is and is not a “Real Australian”, “Real American”, or a “Real Briton”?

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Ipsos reports:

Australia is among the top five countries when it comes to having the most inclusive definition of nationality, an Ipsos Global Advisor survey shows.

Canada and the United States topped the list followed by South Africa, France, and Australia. These countries score highest on an “Inclusiveness Index” reflecting social acceptance of diversity as it applies to religion, immigration, sexual orientation and gender identity, political views, and criminal background.

Further:

Commenting on the findings, David Elliott, Director Ipsos Social Research Institute – NSW, said: When you take into account all the components we covered and look at the Overall Inclusiveness Index, Australia comes out as one of the five most inclusive nations behind Canada, the US, South Africa, and France.  This is not that surprising given our multicultural society as it exposes Australians to a variety of cultures and religions which helps drive acceptance.  It also fits with previous Ipsos studies on immigration and refugees, which highlighted Australia as one of the more positive countries globally in terms of our views on immigration and refugees.

“However, while we are generally accepting of religious diversity and immigrants, we do show much less positive views of naturalised citizens when they aren’t fluent in English or don’t have a job, as well as lifelong immigrants who don’t become citizens and illegal immigrants who have lived here most of their lives.

“Interestingly, where we fall down the list in terms of our inclusiveness versus other nations is in regard to LBGTI people and those convicted of a criminal offence who have served time in prison, with our classification of these people as ‘real’ Australians placing us mid-table. 

Plenty of food for thought there. Personally, I doubt there is such a beast as a “real Australian”. For me anyone who is here is by definition an Australian, end of story. Of course it helps if they speak English, but it is also a great thing to be able to speak two or more languages! Multilingual Australians are a national treasure, in my opinion. I have long since stopped feeling paranoid when I hear people speaking Croatian, Chinese, or whatever at the club, on the bus, or anywhere else.

Do visit my 2011 series Being Australian.

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25 million of us

That is the population of Australia as of July 2018.  As the chart below (last revised in 2009)  shows, this has happened faster than was expected. Makes me think of what has happened in my lifetime (1943-) and those of my parents (1911-89/96).

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Here is a gem from 1948, the year before I started kindergarten! Back then we had 7,637,000 people — not counting Indigenous Australians.

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Back then only around 3% were born overseas — that is, not in Australia or the British Isles! That was of course changing. The picture now — or in the 2016 census — is very different.

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That there is some angst arising is not news. See this BTN special:

Did you know that every 104 seconds a baby is born in Australia? Or that in 2017, 169,993 people moved here from all over the world? While that might mean a lot more potential friends in the future. It also means we need to start thinking about how we’re going to prepare for all these extra people.

In just one year, Australia’s population has grown by nearly 400,000 people. That’s like adding an extra Canberra annually. Most of them are moving to our major cities. By 2050 Melbourne’s population, for example, is expected to nearly double to 8 million people. There are some benefits to having more people in the country and it’s not just lots of potential new friends. More people means more businesses; more buildings means more jobs; and more people paying taxes. But it might also mean more issues ahead.

I propose to post again on this. Meanwhile, a kind of related recycle:

Not entirely nostalgic

03 September 2007

Way back in the fifties of the last century I often saw sights like this; though this is Auburn 1952 it could just as easily have been Sutherland 1954.

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The infamous 6 o’clock swill. In our street this led to many a family having their tea (we didn’t say “dinner” in working class Sutherland) ruined as Dad staggered in barely conscious, or in fighting mood enough to give the wife and kids the back of his hand. Not pretty.

Not everything today is worse than it was way back then.

To a child passing nervously, the pub at that time was a frightening, noisy place, and the smell was unbelievable.

The photo is part of an exhibition Sydney’s Pubs: Liquor, Larrikins & the Law.

Dorothy Hoddinott — an example to us all

Ignore those paranoid “patriots”, the dwindling supporters of Pauline H, the moaners about consideration for others — sorry, “political correctness” — gone mad. The best way to go has been before our eyes for years now, and one shining example has been just retired school principal Dorothy Hoddinott. What a positive influence she has been on so many lives, and for harmony in our country! As a former teacher myself I am humbled by what she has achieved, with her colleagues. The best thing is realising the ripple effect of her example.

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Dorothy Hoddinott in 2014: see my previous posts Refugee success stories, Islam and so on… and Iraq, Downer, Rudd, and a really positive story to end on.

In that last post:

Dorothy I met through ESL circles.  There is a great story on her in today’s Herald.

One morning earlier this month, Dorothy Hoddinott left Wollongong at the crack of dawn to drive back to Sydney. The Holroyd High School principal had been attending a conference but was determined to make it back in time to see one of her former students graduate from university.

Zainab Kaabi finished high school 11 years ago. But her personal accomplishment was also an exceptionally proud and significant moment for her mentor and former principal.

Not only did Hoddinott once willingly add $9000 to her personal credit cards to secure her student a place at university. But the young asylum seeker inspired her to set up a trust fund in her name, which has since expanded to support refugee students studying in public high schools and universities across the state.

The Friends of Zainab trust fund was established when, in her final year of high school, Zainab Kaabi told Hoddinott she would have to drop out because, as she was now an adult, she would no longer be eligible for her welfare payments under the conditions of her temporary protection visa.

Hoddinott recalls telling her ”I’m not going to let you leave school, you’re too good. Sorry but you’re a scholarly girl.”

She contacted everyone she knew for donations and set up the trust fund, allowing her to remain at school.

The donations continued to support her through a bachelor of medical sciences at Macquarie University and a bachelor of pharmacy at Sydney University…

So I was very pleased to see 7.30 during this week:

GEOFF THOMPSON: After years of travelling and teaching in Australia and in Europe, Dorothy arrived at Holroyd High in 1995, where about half of the students have a refugee background and almost 90 per cent speak English as a second language.
DOROTHY HODDINOTT: There was an educational Apartheid in the school. There was a ‘them’ and the ‘us.’ And so one of the first things I had to do was to actually extend all of the facilities of the school.
There were lots and lots of rules and a lot of the rules were overlapping each other and they weren’t common sense.
(Shots of kids at Holroyd High)
So what I did was I threw out all of those rules and we operated on common sense for a year, while we negotiated a new
way of doing things, and we came up with respect. And so we had to make that sort of suitable for kids: respect for myself, respect for others, respect for the school and community.
GEOFF THOMPSON: It worked. Just ask Bashir Yousufi, whom 7.30 first met in 2012 when he came to Holroyd High as a 15 year old… He had just fled Afghanistan after his parents were killed by the Taliban.
BASHIR YOUSUFI, FORMER HOLROYD HIGH STUDENT: I didn’t go to school so I didn’t think I would ever have this opportunity that I have at the moment.
GEOFF THOMPSON: This week Bashir travelled to Sydney to thank the person that he now calls his mum.
BASHIR YOUSUFI: She is more than principal to me and she is my mum and she adopted me, which is a great thing and I love her and I really, I respect her.
GEOFF THOMPSON: Bashir is now in the final year of a business degree at ANU.
BASHIR YOUSUFI: How are you?
DOROTHY HODDINOTT: Oh, how wonderful to see you!
GEOFF THOMPSON: Dorothy helped Bashir through school and into university with her Friends of Zainab Scholarship Program, named after the first student she helped to get to uni using her own credit card.
BASHIR YOUSUFI: Without your help, it would be – I wouldn’t be studying at ANU right now.
DOROTHY HODDINOTT: You decided to learn English while you were in detention. You decided to learn 15 English words each day.
(LAUGHS)
That wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t had the motivation. It was a happy combination of your motivation, the school supporting you and so on.
BASHIR YOUSUFI: Yes. Holroyd High became my favourite place and you will be my favourite place for the rest of my life.

Says it all, doesn’t it?

Fascinating story of Wollongong Art Gallery

Must go again! On an earlier visit:

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It is the Gallery’s 40th anniversary.

An immersive interactive installation project that celebrates the significant and generous gift by Bronius (Bob) Sredersas, a Lithuanian migrant and steel worker whose personal art collection became the impetus for the establishment of Wollongong Art Gallery.

Incorporating the Sredersas art collection, this innovative multidisciplinary exhibition recognizes both the Gallery’s origins and celebrates the contribution that migrants and refugees have made and continue to make to our communities.

This work has been created by the Society of Histrionic Happenings under the curatorship of Anne-Louise Rentell​ through the Gallery’s Visiting Curators Program.

​​THE GIFT on Vimeo

See also THE GALLERY / The Story of Us.

It was not until 1975 after a chance meeting with a very modest gentleman named Bronius (Bob) Sredersas. Bob wanted to donate his collection to the “Children of Wollongong”. This momentous gift was the catalyst on which the Art Gallery was built (Sredersas Gallery). The Illawarra County Council donated the property formally known as the Hughes Whetton Reilly Building (now Wollongong Youth Centre), including the land upon which it stood to Council on the proviso that the property be used for an Art Gallery. Through the persistence and hard work of the society, volunteers and donors, and with the assistance of Council and Government funding bodies, a Director and Board of Trustee was appointed and on the 2 June 1978 Wollongong City Gallery was officially opened by Mr Neville Wran, Premier of NSW at 85 Burelli Street, Wollongong attended by over 500 people. The first exhibition was titled Burghers of Calais, with works borrowed for the National Gallery and Art Gallery of NSW.                                      

Local ABC has a great feature: The Lithuanian secret service officer whose art collection changed an Australian city.

Bronius 'Bob Sredersas stands in front of a painting while holding a cigarette.

I was back in Wollongong by late 1978, though seeing out the year working at Sydney University.

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“North Wollongong Beach in the early 1980’s. Photo thanks to Lost Wollongong member Michael Schurr.” I was living not far away in Church Street at that time – well, at least from late 1978 to the beginning of 1981.

I recall hearing about “The Gift” at the time. Interesting the role played by Father Michael Bach, whom I met earlier in the 70s when he officiated at a wedding where I was a groomsman.

Mr Sredersas’ life outside of work could not have been more contradictory — he would not be seen at the local pubs that were filled with steelworkers or at the local football matches and horse races.

Instead, he would spend his time at his fibro cottage in the Wollongong suburb of Cringila, tending to a garden of roses, cabbages, lemons and a line of trees to absorb the dust from the steelworks.

It was in 1956 when he decided that his home needed a painting and he caught the train to Sydney, a journey he would regularly make over a period of 20 years….

In 1977, hastened by a break-in which saw 13 of the works stolen — including two Willian Ashtons and a Norman Lindsay — Mr Sredersas began to wonder where his collection would be stored over the long term.

He decided that the people of Wollongong, the city he felt he owed a great debt to, should own the paintings.

A devout Catholic, Mr Sredersas, who was then in his late 60s, enlisted the help of Father Michael Bach who was the administrator of Wollongong Cathedral at the time….

Looking back at 2017 — 6

From  June 2017.

A week of multicultural yums

Posted to Facebook yesterday: Today real Xi’an street food at Taste of Xi’an Wollongong, yesterday lamb chops at City Diggers, last Sat halal Lebanese at Samara’s. Go Oz! Not all is bad here, eh! A friend, Matthew da Silva in Sydney responded: On Thursday had Egyptian for lunch in Enmore, yesterday had Korean for dinner in the CBD and today had Thai for lunch in Newtown.

Yums indeed! See also Taste of Xi’an Wollongong, and Munching against the fear of “the other”….

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Xi’an roujiamo

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Steamed lamb broth

My roujiamo and broth totalled just $14.50! Again, yum!

Testing for English competence?

On Facebook yesterday I posted with reference to Could you pass the proposed English test for Australian citizenship? The author of that, Misty Adoniou, is Associate Professor in Language, Literacy and TESL, University of Canberra. I was from 1990-2010 for much of the time a teacher of ESOL or ESL in a private language college, at a state high school, at an Anglican school, and as a private tutor, so I have had a professional interest. My post:

This is outrageous! If this had been the case twenty years ago my friend M, a very successful citizen indeed, would have failed, as would more successful citizens than you could poke a stick at, including quite a few Anglos born here! IELTS Band 6? A stupid suggestion — and as a retired ESL/ESOL I know that test well. “Aspiring Australian citizens will need to score a Band 6 on the general stream of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, the same score as those seeking entry to Australia’s top university” This requirement MUST NOT pass. Stupid Dutton!

I am marginally less excited this morning, but not much…

The Australian government has been proposing among other things a strengthening of the English Language requirements for those aspiring to be Australian citizens. (That link to a PDF currently works, but typically as with any government discussion paper could disappear at any time.)

English language is essential for economic participation and social cohesion,
and there are certain standards that must be met, especially for those
who are seeking to become a permanent resident or Australian citizen.

There is strong public support to ensure aspiring citizens are fully able
to participate in Australian life, by speaking English, our national language.
Aspiring citizens are currently required to possess a level of ‘basic’ English
to meet the requirements for citizenship. This is tested when an applicant
sits the Australian citizenship test.

Aspiring citizens will be required to undertake separate upfront English
language testing with an accredited provider and achieve a minimum
level of ‘competent’.

People currently exempt from sitting the Australian citizenship test, for example
applicants over 60 years of age, or under 16 years of age at the time they
applied for citizenship or those with an enduring or permanent mental
or physical incapacity, will be exempt from English language testing.

The test most people will confront is the internationally respected  IELTS test.  I have worked with this test in the past. This SBS page summarises well:

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton also outlined in a press release that the English test that applicants will be required to pass involve will involve elements of reading, writing, listening and speaking. This is thought that it will therefore make it equivalent to IELTS level 6.

What does “competent” mean here?

Let’s see how the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is scored as a comparative benchmark to define a “competent” English level.

IELTS measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. The test assesses areas including listening, reading, writing and speaking – in less than three hours.

According to the IELTS official site, there are two types of IELTS tests: Academic and General Training.

The General Training type, which focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts, is normally considered easier than the Academic type, and is already a requirement for migration to Australia.

It is therefore more likely to assume that Government’s citizenship test will look at the standard of the General type….

Currently, for international students in Australia hoping to study full-time in a recognised education institution, they need need an overall IELTS score of 5.5 for Academic type.

However, most universities set their English proficiency requirement at an overall score of 6.5. For University of Sydney, many faculties and courses actually require an overall band score of 7.0 or better with a minimum score of 6.0 in each of the components.

It is therefore quite hopeful to assume that the new English requirement shall not be a significant obstacle for those young people who successfully manage to accomplish a degree, migrate and live in Australia before applying for citizenship.

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Labor is exaggerating when they say the test is “university level”, but I still feel the proposal, even if it refers to Band 6 on the General IELTS in listening, reading, writing and speaking, is setting the bar unreasonably high. As Misty Adoniou says:

I prepared students for the IELTS test when I lived and taught in Greece. They needed a score of 6 to get into Foundation courses in British universities. It wasn’t an easy test and sometimes it took them more than one try to succeed.

My students were middle class, living comfortably at home with mum and dad. They had been to school all their lives and were highly competent readers and writers in their mother tongue of Greek.

They had been learning English at school since Grade 4, and doing private English tuition after school for even longer. Essentially they had been preparing for their IELTS test for at least 8 years.

They were not 40-year-old women whose lives as refugees has meant they have never been to school, and cannot read and write in their mother tongue.

Neither were they adjusting to a new culture, trying to find affordable accommodation and a job while simultaneously dealing with post-traumatic stress and the challenge of settling their teenage children into a brand new world.

I strongly suspect that if I were to spring a battery of IELTS tests on the usual clientele at City Diggers in Wollongong a rather alarming number — all of them citizens and many born here, including “Anglos” — would fail to make Band 6 in one or more of the skill areas. Of course they are all nonetheless competent as citizens.

A curious justification for tightening English is some apparent connection to resisting terrorism:

Recent terrorist attacks around the world have justifiably caused concern
in the Australian community. The Government responds to these threats
by continuing to invest in counter-terrorism, strong borders and strong
national security. This helps to ensure that Australia remains an open,
inclusive, free and safe society.

In the face of these threats, there is no better time to reaffirm our
steadfast commitment to democracy, opportunity and our shared values.

The English Test is after all part of that package, and on those grounds alone I feel Labor has been justified in sending it back to the drawing board.

As far as I know I have not met any terrorists, but I have been up close and personal with a well-known member of  Hizb ut-Tahrir, as I recount here and here.

This goes back to 2005 and a particularly interesting if controversial event. On the day I was not there, as I had to attend a meeting of ESL teachers at Erskineville – or was it Arncliffe, one of the last such meetings for me as I retired the following year. But I did know all the participants at The Mine end, and I posted on it at the time and the following year. See Salt Mine and Islamic Students; 7.30 Report: The Mine and the Islamists; The Mine and the Islamists: cause for concern?. On Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07 there is also a major entry from April 2006.

What I found yesterday was a video on YouTube of the complete 2005 Seminar [still there at 9 Oct 2014] referred to in those entries. The controversy centred on the guest speakers, Sheik Khalid Yassin and Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Wassim Doureihi. These people would fall in one of Michael Burleigh’s inner circles (see previous entry) but not necessarily, of course, into the innermost circle. While I had concerns about the Mine students involved, I very much doubt they would have even considered the innermost circle – quite the opposite in fact. (I also refer to these students in my Cronulla 2005 posts.)

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Stills from the video.

Mine students often show initiative, of course, and these particular students were very bright indeed and participated in all aspects of school life to the full. An earlier generation some ten years before promised they would have Barry Crocker and Kamahl at their farewell assembly. We thought they were joking, but on the day, there they were! The Tamils were especially happy. So were the office ladies.

What I can say is that Wassim and company would have had no trouble passing IELTS at a very high level, so what is Mr Dutton actually doing?

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You know who…

Related: it is worth taking the challenge of this article from 2015. And also along the lines we are freaking out rather more than we should, read Londoner Stephen Liddell from 10 June 2017: Talk of Terrorism is all hype. He posts this, figures relating presumably to the UK:

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Do check my other posts tagged “terror”.