January 26, 2014 A record number of people took the pledge to become Australian citizens at Australia Day (January 26) ceremonies over the weekend, as the nation's foreign-born population continues to rise.
Almost 18,000 people became Australian citizens on Sunday (January 26, 2014), which has contributed to making more than a quarter of the country's population foreign-born. Monash University's population researcher, Dr Bob Birrell, says Australia is an attractive destination for migrants because of its affluence and substantial job opportunities.
"That along with the opening up of our migration program by successive governments has led to a record high influx of both permanent and temporary migrants in recent years," he said.
As Australia's total population approaches 23.5 million, demographer Bernard Salt says the country's population is growing at close to record rates.
"At the current time, it's largely driven by overseas migration, which is tracking around 230,000 people per year," Mr Salt said. Dr Birrell says Australia's population growth is exceeding those of many other countries around the world. "We're growing at about 1.8 per cent a year, which is much faster than the other western countries and indeed most Asian countries," he said.
Electrical engineer and musician, Ranjan Vaidya, grew up in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu and moved to Australia 15 years ago.
"I came to Australia mainly looking for better opportunities and also I heard about Australia as a fair go country, with hard working people," he said.
Mr Vaidya says most people from Nepal come for jobs, education and to get away from years of political instability.
"You have got a lot of things right here," he said.
"The political system is right, your economic system is right, all the prosperity, everything is right."
"That's where the jobs are," Dr Birrell said. "It's also where the major migrant communities are located and Asian migrants in particular prefer to settle where there are established communities of their own ethnic and religious backgrounds," he said.
Life expectancy at birth is almost 82 years and the OECD says there's a strong sense of community. Mr Salt says people can also find their own community within Australia.
"Australia has a place, I think, for everyone," he said. "If you want to do the outback thing you can, if you want city sophistication you can, if you want to raise a family in middle suburban you can do that as well."
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[eduaid Newsdesk, Source: Australia Network News]