Notwithstanding the overarching distinction between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, diversity in Australia is for the most part synonymous with country of birth, migrant generation, and the more esoteric expression of these data in what we term “culture”. And with almost half of the population either first or second generation immigrant, Australia is home to one of the world's most ethnically diverse populations. Socio-economic diversity is of course intimately connected to these demographic characteristics, but for the most part appears in Australian data collections disaggregated either by geographic area or overseas born/Australian born rather than broad ethnic group because of the way in which Australian statistics are presented. This is in contrast with the approach in New Zealand (NZ) which disaggregates most publicly available data by ethnicity (see Chapter 5 describing NZ's population). In other words, there are many ways of measuring, interpreting, collecting, and presenting diversity data. Australia tends to present diversity data in groups related to geographic area and nation of origin whereas NZ presents diversity in collections relating to ethnicity first and foremost.
Australia – what is diversity?
There are many aspects of diversity. These include items often focused upon in therapeutic contexts and psychological studies: age, family background, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability/disability, and nation of origin.
An examination or analysis of diversity (diversity analysis) in populations can focus on two broad types of diversity: inherent diversity (traits people are born with) and acquired diversity (aspects gained from experience).
Examples of inherent diversity would be one's country of birth and sex. Acquired diversity characteristics are increasingly attributed to personal, social, and economic success.
Community Profiles and related data collections developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) provide a wide variety of diversity-related data, and are drawn on in this chapter. At the same time this chapter is not a substantive analysis of that diversity. It is a descriptive presentation for reference by users of this text book. When asked to write this description of diversity in Australia (and the following description of diversity in NZ) my brief was to paint a broad picture of who Australians are including collective and individual aspects of diversity so as to place the information on abnormal psychology and related matters forming the bulk of the book into context.
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