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Ever since Europeans decided to settle in Western Australia the predominant culture has been white Anglo Saxon Protestant. As late as 2001 the national census revealed that 43.8% of West Australians could trace their heritage back to Britain within the last three generations.

Even so there have always been immigrants from all over the world who have chosen for a variety of reasons to make the state their home. The same census revealed that of a population of 1,828,000 some 590,000 were born overseas and originated from more than 170 different countries.

Until the 1970s when multi-culturalism was embraced, the various governments both colonial and federal, had encouraged British immigrants to come to Australia. Between 1908 and 1913 there were 46,473 arrivals from Britain with the government subsidising over 30,800 of these. The post World War One Empire Settlement Act, encouraged more British settlers and the state government introduced the Group Settlement Act to get the new settlers to open up new areas of the state.

Immigration from Britain peaked in the years after the Second World War but the federal government had begun to realise that British immigrants alone would not be enough and so displaced persons were also encouraged to emigrate from war torn Europe as long as they agreed to work in areas and jobs selected by the government for at least two years after their arrival.

The largest group of immigrants besides the British to arrive in Australia were the Italians. Italian is the de-facto second language of Australia with more Italian speakers than any other language except English. The Italians suffered the discrimination and racism typical of any large group of outsiders arriving in a foreign country, but they soon integrated into main stream society and as the government correctly predicted, the second generation, by an large, gave up many of their cultural traditions and became Australianised. This has been true of every cultural group that has arrived and has led to a stable and relatively calm social structure in the country.

The success of multi-culturalism (to date) can be largely attributed to the Australian notion of a 'fair go'. Anyone willing to come here and contribute to the progress and well being of the country is generally quickly accepted and after some initial teething troubles where different people have to learn to accept each other, most immigrants do better here than they would have if they had stayed in their own countries.

For official details on how to apply to settle in Australia please contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.




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