A large majority of migrants and refugees new to Australia plan to become citizens and believe it is important to celebrate Australia Day, according to a new survey.
Most newcomers say they plan to mark the day in some way and that Australia Day events make them feel more welcome in their new country, the survey found.
However, most don’t know the significance of the January 26 date and are unaware of sensitivities over the day among some indigenous Australians.
The survey of 150 new migrants and refugees, commissioned by refugee and migrant settlement agency AMES Australia, also found curiosity on the part of recent arrivals about Australia’s history.
The survey asked ‘Is a national day such as Australia Day was important for the nation?’ Seventy-seven per cent of respondents said ‘yes’ while just 10 per cent said ‘no’.
Sixty-eight per cent said they planned to mark or celebrate the day in some way while 32 per cent said they had no plans.
Only 31 per cent of those surveyed knew the significance on January 26 – the day the First Fleet arrived in Port Jackson – while 69 per cent did not.
An overwhelming 89 per cent of respondents said they planned to become Australian citizens while 11 per cent said they had no plans to become citizens or were not sure.
But only twenty-five per cent of those surveyed were aware of the controversy over Australia Day prompted by some indigenous groups calling it ‘invasion day’. Respondents who were aware of the controversy were split evenly over the issue of changing the date with 38 per cent supporting a change and 36 per cent opting for the status quo. Twenty-six per cent did not have a view.
More than half (61 per cent) said Australia Day would mean more them it they were citizens while 39 per cent said it would make no difference.
Eighty-two per cent of respondents said they knew, or planned to