Laurie Ferguson, parliamentary secretary for multicultural affairs, says that because Australian families are ‘white flighting’ - withdrawing their kids from public schools and placing them in church or private schools to avoid unsought impacts migrant communities on the schools - that more needs to be done to avoid children from places like Africa, who had grown up in refugee camps and had limited education, being heavily concentrated in some areas and schools.
A report by the NSW Secondary Principals Council in 2006 raised concerns about ‘white flight’ undermining the public education system and threatening social cohesion. It showed the percentage of Anglo-European students in public schools had decreased by a third in western NSW, by 42% in North Sydney and 37% in New England.
The need Ferguson thinks is to diversify the location of housing for refugees and humanitarian entrants.
A moment's reflection suggests this policy has no chance of success. Residents will just 'flight' further or relocate. Perhaps, instead, we need to rethink the current direction of the migration program to reduce the pace of migration from areas that are slow to gain acceptance in Australian communities.
Some weight in immigration policy should be placed on the attitudes of those communities accepting the migrants – it is wrong even in refugee policy – to consider only the needs of the immigrants.
This is quite apart from the fact that some migrants we are accepting seem to be completely inappropriate. Even in terms of general immigration and refugee policy the preferences of local residents matter.
My own preference is to switch the composition of our migrant intake towards accepting more migrants from Asia. The sons and daughters of these migrants do well in our schools and the families integrate well into local communities.