The 2017 Mapping Social Cohesion Report

The 2017 Mapping Social Cohesion Report

About the research


The Mapping Social Cohesion Report has been produced by Monash University researchers since 2007 – with a collective sample of 42,000 respondents. It is the largest survey of its kind and tracks Australian attitudes on issues including immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination and political trust.

Despite significant demographic change over the decade, including population rise and increased diversity, Australian attitudes have remained, in large measure, stably positive.

Notably, 63% of respondents agree or strongly agree that ‘accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger’. A minority of Australians (37%) believe Australia’s immigration intake is ‘too high’.

Agreement that ‘multiculturalism has been good for Australia’ remains in the high range of 83-86%, where it has been since the Scanlon Foundation surveys began asking the question in 2013.

Report author, Professor Andrew Markus, said ten years of surveying did demonstrate areas where concerns are increasing among a minority of Australians.

Three quarters (75%) of Australians now agree that Australia is a land of opportunity where hard work is rewarded, down from 81% in 2007.

The percentage of Australians who expected their lives to be worse in three or four years has almost doubled over the decade, from 11% in 2007 to 19% in 2017.

Those reporting discrimination on the basis of their skin colour, ethnic origin or religion more than doubled, from 9% to 20%.

When results were analysed alongside the 2016 Australian census, Professor Markus said further insights emerged.

“There is evidence of increasing geographical concentration of overseas-born populations, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, bringing into question whether past patterns of integration are continuing,” he said.

“There are continuing relatively high levels of negative feeling towards Muslims, and a close examination of survey responses indicates an increase, albeit of less than ten percentage points, of those indicating strong negative views.

“The perceived failures of Australian democracy and the increasing support for minor parties were developments of potential major consequence for the country,” Professor Markus said.

“Within the mainstream – among supporters of the Liberal, National and Labor parties – there is recognition of problems with Australian democracy, but radical change does not gain majority endorsement,” said Professor Markus.

The report shows that amongst Greens supporters there is high level of endorsement of democracy, but also a heightened sense of the weakness of existing government.

One Nation attracts the highest level of discontented voters, with 37% of its supporters in agreement that ‘having a strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament’ would be good for Australia.

Close to a third (35%) of One Nation supporters are ‘very pessimistic’ about Australia’s future, compared to 10% or less of supporters of the Liberal, Labor and Greens parties. A majority (80%) of One Nation supporters agree Australia’s system of government either ‘should be replaced’ or ‘needs major change’.