Are Australia's suburbs swamped by Asians and Muslims? Countering political claims with data

James Forrest*, Ron Johnston, Frank Siciliano, David Manley, Kelvyn Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Recent decades have seen substantial growth across many developed-world countries of right-wing populist political parties whose policies oppose immigration and multiculturalism as threats to the majority way of life there. These are exemplified in Australia by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, which was successful at elections there at the turn of the twenty-first century and again in 2016. Part of this party’s rhetoric focuses on the geography of immigrant groups in Australia’s cities, with claims that their members live in ghettos. Is that factually correct? Using data from the 2011 Australian census this paper analyses the distribution of Asians and Muslims (the two groups picked out by One Nation and its leader) at four spatial scales within the country’s 11 largest urban areas. It finds no evidence at all of intensive residential segregation of Muslims, and although there are concentrations of Asians—notably in Sydney and Melbourne—most residents claiming Asian ancestry live in neighbourhoods and suburbs where they form a minority (in many cases a small minority) only of the local population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-472
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Geographer
Issue number4
Early online date1 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Australian urban areas
  • Immigration
  • multiculturalism
  • One Nation
  • residential segregation


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