Immigration levels in Australia continue to increase, with more and more people wanting to migrate to Australia every year.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection reports that in the year 2015-16, Australia had 189,770 new permanent migrants. In the same year, the department granted a whopping 7.7 million temporary visas – which included visitor visas, temporary residence visas and Special Category subclass 444 visas, a special arrangement for New Zealand citizens. Student visas were also a sizable proportion of these figures: Australia reportedly has the third-highest number of international students in the world, after the UK and the USA. Refugee and humanitarian entry represented a very small proportion – with just 17,555 Refugee and Humanitarian Assistance Programme visas and 1,552 Temporary Protection visas granted in 2015-16.
The rate of permanent migration has increased greatly over the last two decades, from less the 70,000 people in 1997-8, to the current figures of nearly 200,000 people per year. These figures for the most part reflect changes to Government policy which have allowed more places to be available to skilled and family stream migrants, but they are also due to the increasing numbers of people who wish to come to Australia, and many on a permanent basis.
There are many reasons why more and more people are seeking to live, work and study in Australia. The climate and natural environment are one draw-card. Australia is famous for its coastal regions and beaches, as well as temperature and tropical rainforests, arid desert wilderness, and extensive mountain ranges. Across the country there are countless natural areas – including more than 500 national parks and 14 World Heritage areas. Australia also has one of the lowest air pollution rates in the world, and most of its main population centres enjoy mild climates.
Job opportunities and economic factors are also a significant pull factor for immigrants. Australia is well-known for its well-paid employment and excellent work benefits compared to other countries, with leave entitlements and salaries outstripping many Western countries. Many immigrants are also attracted by the education system – with world-class schools and universities offering courses to international students.
Lifestyle factors play a role in Australia’s attractiveness as a destination for migrants. As a country with a very low population relative to its size, Australia has a great deal of space. This means not only plenty of parks and nature reserves, but many residents enjoy their own backyard even in large cities. The country is famous for its friendly people and low stress, laid-back lifestyle. Crime rates are comparatively low, and its health-care system is one of the best in the world, including free basic healthcare to all citizens and residents.
Finally, Australia’s long history as a multicultural society makes it an attractive place for migrants. Despite some recent anti-immigration (and particularly anti-muslim) public debate driven by certain parts of the political spectrum, which unfortunately is part of a recent global trend in Western politics, Australia remains an open, inclusive society which as a whole is very welcoming of immigrants from all cultures.