Muslim-Australians from different national and ethnic backgrounds brought their own versions of religious and cultural traditions, making them a very heterogeneous group in Australia.
The assumption that Muslim-Australians are an un-integrated group of people and therefore need to be integrated into the larger Australian society through government programs and policy is only partially true. The Muslim integration issue is directly linked to their social and economic marginalisation from broader Australian society. In other words, Muslim integration or lack thereof, has a lot to do with the levels of racism and discrimination that still exist in Australian society.
It is the social and economic marginalisation not their religious or cultural values that preclude Muslim-Australians from integrating into Australian society. Affected by a multiplicity of poor social and economic conditions, Muslim-Australians find a sense of belonging and self-worth within their own communities. Unlike the larger Australian society, these ethnic and parochial communities provide Muslim people an anchorage and identity.
5.Mapping Muslim Australia (Statistics and GIS maps)
The statistical data contained in this chapter is intended to illustrate the demographic characteristics of Muslim-Australians and provide an insight into where the vast majority of the of Muslim-Australian population live.
The data offers a ‘birds-eye view’ of the Muslim-Australian population in each of the top twenty local government areas in terms of the number of residents identifying in the 2006 census as ‘Muslim’. We have also extracted 2006 Census data to show the place of birth breakdown for each of these top twenty LGAs, plus a breakdown at state and national level.
The purpose of this data is to show the ethnic diversity of Muslim-Australians and to provide information on the particular ethnic mix of each of the council areas. A key finding was that the largest group of Muslims are in fact Australian born second generation, constituting 37.9 per cent of the total Muslim-Australian population. Further, there are some 180 birthplaces represented by those subscribing to the Muslim faith in Australia.
The two GIS (Geographical Information System) maps below are important to our understanding of the nature of demography of the top twenty local government areas. The first map (purple) shows the geographic spread of the top twenty Muslim-Australian LGAs. As can be seen from this map, they are primarily concentrated in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Also, in the context of Sydney city, the map reveals that the vast majority of Muslims live in the western suburbs (lower socio-economic region) and in Melbourne, Muslim-Australians tend to live away from central Melbourne in outer suburbs.
The second map shows the total population in each of the top twenty LGAs. The purpose of this map is to show the relative number of total ratepayers in each of these LGAs which is a crude indicator of financial and human resources available to these councils to stage activities to enhance relations between Muslim and non-Muslim-Australians. For example Brisbane City Council is Australia’s largest, and therefore has much greater capacity (and this is born out by our research) to develop such programs. On the other hand, councils which have large numbers of Muslims, such as Auburn and Canterbury, are relatively small in size.
If it is viewed in conjunction with the first map, one key conclusion that can be drawn is that Muslims do not necessarily live in large suburban cities. For example, Blacktown City Council in New South Wales has a total population of over 250 000 people but only have 12 458 Muslims living in it whilst Bankstown City Council in New South Wales has a total population of 170 488 and has 25 996 Muslims living there (ABS Census, 2007).
Number of persons with religious affiliation as "Islam" top 20 Local Government Areas
2006 Census of Population and Housing
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics table 813 Cat no. 2069.0.30.001
Total population - Top 20 Local Government Areas - 2006 Census of Population and Housing
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics table 813 Cat no_2069.0.30.001
Country of birth by selected areas (top 20), where religious affiliation identified as ‘Islam’
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census of Population and Housing