Thursday, May 20, 2004


Significant population increase through migration and refugee intake is the way of the future in all post-industrial societies; including Australia. In particular, the state budget documents just released in Adelaide warn: "South Australia will have to increasingly rely on migration to support population and labour force growth". The papers say "migrants are needed to augment skill development" and to "counter our continuing low fertility level" (Advertiser, May 2004).

Towards this end, the Australians have opened their hearts to African refugees. The Federal Government says in a recent policy statement that 75% of the Australian refugee intake this year will come from Africa. The Sudanese refugees will be the most numerous group of the African contingent among the 1800 humanitarian refugees to be granted asylum in Australia in 2004.

In South Australia (and other states), a new wave of migration is making its mark as refugees from Africa seek a safer place to live - away from the horrors of famine and civil wars in their home countries. A total of 8000 Sudanese and 2000 Somalis have arrived Australia since 1996; and 600 Sierra Leonians since 1999, but more are coming every month.

Generally speaking, Australia is a land of migrants and refugees. The first wave of migration to this ancient land was mainly from Europe; the second wave from Asia and Latin America. The Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) of South Australia believes that the third wave of post-World War II migration to Australia is coming from countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zaire. The MRC is, basically, concerned with welfare issues and has provided resources to help the resettlement of more than 3000 newly-arrived refugees in South Australia in the past few years.

The new sensibility in Australia’s relations with Africa is already bearing fruits and is likely to generate enormous socio-economic and cultural benefits to the nation in years to come. The Africans are very popular here; and are extremely adaptable. Their smiling faces and regal appearance have endeared them to the Australian population at large.

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