Here in Australia, we have one of the world's largest immigrant factions as a percentage of our total population. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 28 percent of our current population was born overseas. Over six million people residing in this country immigrated here. That's an amazing number and we all see the economic benefits in job creation and more demand for consumer goods which spurs the growth of Australian business, whether it be in items produced locally or imported, distributed and sold here.
Immigrants create jobs for all Australians. Business knows this. A quick web search will give a plethora of respected publications such as Forbes and Australian Business Insider singing the benefits of immigrant job creation. The Australian government also tells us immigrants are less likely to receive any type of benefits, including accessing the public health system, than those born here. This happens while paying taxes that help keep the system solvent. Simply put, they give us more than they receive.
Not only do immigrants benefit the economy, they keep you and me alive. Our healthcare industry is highly dependent on foreign-trained doctors and nurses. As a registered nurse, I have worked shifts in Australian hospital emergency departments in which every staff member on was an immigrant. Our hospitals recruit heavily from overseas to meet the demand for professionals that cannot be filled locally.
Australia seems to be in love with our immigrants, and rightfully so -- we all benefit from their presence. However, despite all this, there is a disturbing reality that seems to be at odds with the paradigm of an open, multicultural society. Australia is one of the whitest places on earth.
Approximately 92 percent of Australia's inhabitants are of white, European decent. Only eight out of every 100 persons here are non-white. This seems incredible but it is true.
How could this have come to be? Do only white Europeans apply to immigrate to Australia? Looking at our geographical location as well as immigration trends of other developed nations, this seems very unlikely.
Are potential immigrants from countries with a majority of their populations not educated or employable? Again, this is unlikely -- those with the resources to relocate overseas are predominately the educated with tertiary educations or trade skills.
So why does the road to immigration reach a dead end for so many non-whites?
With almost a third of our nation being immigrants yet only 8 percent being non-white (and that is including Australia's indigenous peoples), something is going on. I, for one, would like to know what. Is Australia's immigration policy still "whites only" by stealth?
If the return of Pauline Hanson to government is anything to go by, 8 percent of our society being of a different colour and possibly from a significantly different culture poses an affront to quite a few Australians.
We, as a nation, have a long way to go towards truly becoming a tolerant, multicultural country. The diversity immigrants bring enriches our society. We need to realise, as a nation, that someone who dresses in a manner different than the majority of us or who has a darker colour skin or enjoys a different cuisine is not a threat to us or our way of life. They do, however, bring the opportunity for us to experience new ideas and invigorate the fabric of our nation. We see on a daily basis what refusing to work together as one people and clinging to tribalism and prejudice is doing to our world.
If we do not start accepting others' differences, the human race is in for a very hard time. Let's start here at home. Let's give our politicians the word that different is something we accept.