Wednesday, October 22, 2003


One of the things I've learnt over the past 364 days of blogging is that there are a lot of web-sites out there that do a good job of presenting the sort of information you need to make sense of the society you live in and the world around you. Then there are sites like The Australian Bureau of Statistics Website which just piss you off completely.

In their paper Australian Multiculturalism: Its Rise and Demise, Brian Galligan and Winsome Roberts assert that:

... in Australia, however, because migrants are for the most part geographically dispersed; they educate their children in English along with other Australian school children; and those children have a high propensity to marry out of their parents’ ethnic group. Australia does not have distinct cultural groups that endure in any significant way. Boxing up the cultural differences that first generation migrants bring and the declining remnants that endure to the second and third generations makes little conceptual sense.

It occurred to me that one way to check whether migrants are geographically dispersed would be to have a look at the 2001 Census data. Some of it is available for free here. And the data has been sort of mapped. That last link won't work in Netscape by the way; to view the page you need Adobe's SGV viewer which is only available for Internet Explorer.

So, having downloaded Adobe's SGV viewer, and started up Internet Explorer I got into the maps and started looking for data. Drill down a few levels, say to the Whittlesea South statistical division, and you can get into a "Community Snapshot" where, finally I learnt (by clicking on the Ancestry link) that in this statistical division:

In the 2001 Census, the three most common ancestries identified with were:

Italian: 18629 people (18.5%)
Australian: 18354 people (18.2%) and;
English: 13652 people (13.5%).

As a quick comparison, in Whittlesea North:

In the 2001 Census, the three most common ancestries identified with were:

Australian: 5028 people (38.6%)
English: 4024 people (30.9%) and;
Italian: 1578 people (12.1%).

I can't provide links to either of those maps by the way; the Adobe SGV viewer doesn't support normal browser navigation. To add to my current frustration, Internet Explorer just decided (despite all evidence to the contrary) that I'm not currently on-line. So I'm unable to provide any more examples right now.

That isn't what I want to do anyway. What I'd like to be able to do, without shelling out a shitload of readies that I don't have, is quickly get hold of the data you'd need to map the distribution of ethnic communities across metropolitan Melbourne. This would go a long way towards testing whether migrants are, in fact, geographically dispersed and their descendants more so. Walk down Sydney Road in Brunswick or Victoria Street in Richmond and you get the distinct impression that, while Australia might not have any migrant ghettos or enclaves, there are few places where they're a little more congregated than dispersed. If the ABS provided useable access to all that data they collected on us three years ago, I might be able to put that superficial perception to the test.

No comments: