Second Edition Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment
Edited by Alain Klarsfeld, Lize A.E. Booysen, Eddy Ng, Ian Roper and Ahu Tatli
Chapter 1: Equal access to the opportunities available? Equity and diversity laws and policies in Australia
Australia has been populated for more than 40 000 years with Indigenous Australians joined by European settlers only 230 years ago. The first settlers consisted of convicts from more than 28 countries and members of the British army who arrived in 1788 to establish a British penal colony. Mass migration in the nineteenth century with one and a half million immigrants from Europe, principally from the UK and Ireland (Haines and Shlomowitz, 1992), established the continent as an Anglo society in the Pacific. In the twentieth century, immigrants came from many European countries and in the latter decades from many parts of Asia and the Middle East (Collins, 1991, pp. 10-13). In the twenty-first century, Australia has an ethnically and culturally diverse population. The original Indigenous population of Australia accounts for approximately 460 000 or 2.5 per cent of the total population (ABS, 2006a). Estimates are that around 4.5 million persons in the population (close to 20 per cent), were born outside Australia, with the majority of these arriving from Europe, principally the UK, and New Zealand (ABS, 2006b). Like many other countries, Australia has a legacy of discrimination and inequality in employment. Propelled by racist ideologies and the male-breadwinner ideology, Indigenous Australians, and non-European immigrants, and women were barred from certain jobs and paid less for their work than any white male counterpart.
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