2.3 The Picture Today

A recent survey by the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA,1989) highlights some features relating to Maltese settlers in Australia.

The majority of Maltese migrants (84%) arrived in Australia prior to 1971, and most of them(74%) arrived between 1951 and 1961. The vast majority (78%) were less than 25 years old when they arrived in Australia, and about one- third of them were less the 15 years old. This implies that Maltese as a group were much younger than other NESB persons on arrival.

Most of them (70%) were sponsored by family or friends as part of a chain migration process. Most of them have some family in Australia, father(60%), mother(62.9%) brother or sister (65%). The vast majority have children living in Australia: only 11.5% have no children.

The OMA data also show that Maltese settlers do not move frequently from one suburb to another. over 80% have, been living in the same neighbourhood for 5 years or more and 65% for more than 10 years.

The majority own their own house (73%) or are in the process of buying it (20%). This degree of home ownership is far larger than that of other persons from non-English speaking background (NESB) sampled by OMA.

Maltese settlers consider themselves Australian: 83% said that "Australian" is important in describing who they felt they were. This is in spite of the fact that the majority of Maltese settlers have not applied for Australian citizenship: only 41% had Australian citizenship. it is worth noting, however, that, as British subjects, over 95% were eligible to vote in Federal and State elections, and presumably felt no need to apply for Australian citizenship.

They do not consider themselves disadvantaged or in any way discriminated against by Government officials, members of parliament, or in obtaining general services.

As a group, they do not socialise to a great degree and do not belong to clubs or organisations. Only 24% said that they identify with an ethnic or cultural group, and only 25% are members of social clubs, mostly football clubs or other sport or social clubs.

Likewise, the OMA study shows that Maltese are not very interested in the political processes. The number showing any interest in this topic, or who discuss politics among their friends is about half of that of other NESB group. While most Maltese in Australia are Labour supporters (48%), with only 14% being Liberal supporters, there is a sizeable group who stated that they supported no political party (26%) or did not declare their position (10%).

They still believe that their faith is important to them personally, and the vast majority (96.5%) have a religion or faith (98.8% being Roman Catholic).

Their attitudes to authority was also investigated in the OMA survey. They believe that obedience and authority are most important virtues (99.6%), that there should be stricter discipline for young people (96.7%), and that there should be harsher penalties for such offences such as rape or attacks on children (94.9%).

Their perceived closeness to other ethnic groups was investigated in the OMA survey. Maltese felt close association with Australian, British, Italian and other 'Europeans', but not with Asians, Lebanese, Turkish, or Jewish nationals. As one might expect, they also felt much closer to Catholics than to those of other religions. The degree of ethnic prejudice shown by Maltese in these studies is less marked than in other ethnic groups.

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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