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Overturning perceptions: migration, renewal and the new Western City

Posted by on May 31st, 2017 · Affordability, Cities, Demographics, Migration, Sydney

Next Monday 5 June Blacktown City Council will host a City Futures seminar, Overturning perceptions: migration, renewal and the new Western City. If you’re involved in migrant services, community development or social planning – or just interested in migrant experiences of Sydney – please come along to this free event (register here).

The seminar will feature presentations by Dr Ryan Allen and Dr Hazel Easthope, and a Q&A panel session.


Religious and ethnic residential segregation in Western Sydney – Dr Ryan Allen, University of Minnesota


In addition to many practical matters, such as housing affordability, access to amenities and the availability of jobs, ethnic and religious identities can influence where people live. Spatial concentrations of people of the same ethnicity or religion can provide important and desirable social, cultural and spiritual outlets. Segregated ethnic and religious communities may also form in an involuntary fashion when individuals from specific ethnicities or religions experience discrimination that leaves them with few options for where to find housing. To the extent that ethnic or religious segregation patterns map onto the geography of opportunity in a city, residential segregation can play a role in exacerbating levels of social or economic inequality.

In this presentation, I present preliminary results of an analysis of segregation patterns in Sydney along two dimensions: ancestry, which serves as a proxy for ethnicity, and religion. Using data from the 2011 Australian Census, I assess the extent to which residents from a common ancestry or religion form spatially segregated communities in Greater Sydney. Results suggest that at the SA1 level, which represents the lowest level of spatial detail available in the Census, segregated ethnic and religious communities are relatively uncommon. Instead, most Sydney communities house residents with broad mixes of ancestry and religion. At the same time, there are some significant pockets of residential segregation, which are more likely to be defined by religion than ancestry.


Affordability barriers to migrant settlement in Australia’s ‘gateway suburbs’ – Dr Hazel Easthope, based on a paper by Dr Hazel Easthope, A.Prof Wendy Stone and Prof Lynda Cheshire

Official statistics suggest that the most common type of socio-economically disadvantaged suburbs across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are areas with above-average numbers of recent overseas migrants and families with children. Many see the spatial concentration of disadvantaged people and the clustering of newly arrived migrants as problematic. But our research demonstrates that that concentrations of newly arrived migrants – and particularly humanitarian and family migrants – can have beneficial outcomes. This is possible when the locations involved are advantaged places with good social supports and services. In two suburbs classed as disadvantaged and characterised by high proportions of recent overseas migrants we interviewed residents and local service providers about their quality of life, how their localities had changed over time and the opportunities for new residents to settle there. These were the suburbs of Auburn in Sydney and Springvale in Melbourne. Judging from these local perspectives, these are good places to live. They embody the ideal of a multicultural society and afford residents access to significant formal and informal support and services. All this is despite their official designation as ‘concentrations of disadvantage’.  Looking to the future, though, this positive scenario is under threat. The capacity of new migrants to emulate concentrated settlement patterns is increasingly undermined by changes in the labour market and housing affordability constraints. The implications of these changes for the wellbeing of disadvantaged residents and the future of these suburbs are significant but effective responses to these challenges are difficult. Both the implications and possible responses to the decline of affordability in gateway suburbs will be discussed.

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