Melbourne: A majority of Australians support immigration intake and multiculturalism even as five per cent of the country's population experience discrimination on a monthly basis, according to a new study.
The study titled 2014's Mapping Social Cohesion report by Scanlon Foundation which surveyed over 24,000 people reported strong public support for immigration intake and the benefits of multiculturalism.
"Australia's public sentiment toward immigration intake is possibly the most positive in the western world. In 2014, 58 per cent of people agree that the immigration intake is about right or too low. Just 35 per cent of people consider that the immigration intake is too high," the Foundation said in a statement.
"This level of public support is somewhat surprising in the context of rising unemployment and other economic concerns, as well as international comparisons," said report author Andrew Markus of of Monash University.
"In 2014, American and European surveys have found disapproval of immigration in the range of 60 to 75 per cent," he said.
The largest study of its kind monitored public attitudes on issues including immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination and belonging.
The report also highlighted that the experience of discrimination remained close to the highest level at 18 per cent since the surveys began in 2014.
Of those who reported experience of discrimination, 30 per cent indicated that it was a frequent occurrence, at least once a month.
"This translates to five per cent of our population experiencing discrimination on a monthly basis," Markus said.
"It would seem that acceptance of the government's measures to stop the arrival of asylum seekers by boat has influenced this outcome," he added.
Public concern over asylum seeker arrivals by boat has dropped. In 2013, the issue was seen as the major problem facing Australia by 12 per cent of people. In 2014, less than 4 per cent of people hold the same view.
Support for eligibility for permanent settlement for asylum seekers arriving by boat has risen, but remains a minority viewpoint. Just one in four people (24 per cent) support asylum seekers arriving by boat to be eligible for permanent settlement.
In terms of attitudes toward multiculturalism, 85 per cent of people agree that it has been good for Australia, almost identical with the proportion in the 2013 survey.
As for the nation's scorecard on social cohesion, Professor Markus says that in 2014, overall and by international standards, Australia remains highly cohesive.