Australia is a world leader in multiculturalism, with most newcomers hailing from England, New Zealand and China, a report has found.


A whopping one quarter of the total population is born overseas, far ahead of other OECD countries which average 11 per cent.

A large majority of those entering the nation do so under the skilled migration program, making up about 62 per cent – or 115,000 people – of the total intake in 2008, according to the latest AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report.

England and NZ remain the two major source countries, totalling about 30 per cent, while in the decade to 2006, China toppled Italy for third place, accounting for five per cent of those relocating Down Under.

But the nation’s humanitarian intake amounted to just seven per cent, with asylum seekers totalling about one fifth or less of this group.

Overall, Australia has a ratio of 10 refugees per 10,000 head of population, compared to 87 per 10,000 in Sweden and 50 per 10,000 in Canada, the report found.

And it appears in many cases the skills of highly educated newcomers from non-English speaking countries are not being utilised, NATSEM author and research fellow Riyana Miranti said.

About 38 per cent of people in that category were found to be working in low or medium skilled occupations, compared to 19 per cent of Australian-born tertiary-educated people aged 35 to 54.

About 20 per cent of migrants from mainly English speaking countries in that age group were working in low-or medium skilled jobs.

The Calling Australia Home report, released on Wednesday, also showed non-migrant households are wealthier than migrants in general, but the scenario was reversed when judged on property assets alone.

Migrant households led their Australian-born counterparts with $262,700 in property compared to $250,800 for non-migrant households, the data revealed.

AMP Financial Services managing director Craig Meller said migration had significantly contributed to the country’s economic well being and culture.

“Migration is embedded in our history … and will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping Australia’s longterm future,” he said.

The majority of data used in the report is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census of Population and Housing, and unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey.