South Australia’s Immigration Policies and Multiculturalism

South Australia is a southern, central Australian state that covers some of the most arid parts of the country. It is home to people from about 200 countries and speaks languages from more than 100.

Recent data suggest that a sizeable proportion of the public supports multiculturalism as a positive force but also recognises the need for it to be refocused and reinvigorated. A growing body of conceptual work (Mansouri and Modood 2020) proposes a complementarity between multiculturalism and interculturalism, avoiding ideological polarisation.

Immigration policy

South Australia’s General Skilled Migration (GSM) program is designed to help the state meet its workforce needs. It offers a number of pathways or streams to achieve permanent residency in Australia, including one for skilled migrants who contribute to regional communities and businesses. The GSM programme has one of the most comprehensive skilled occupation lists, which allows migrants to nominate themselves for a visa under the subclass 190 or subclass 491 visas.

The policy of ‘White Australia’ that guided Australian immigration until the 1960s limited opportunities for non-European immigrants, but as Africa underwent rapid change in the last quarter of the 20th century, so did the need for an increasingly global and integrated world. This led to a loosening of the White Australia policy and the beginnings of non-white immigration from Africa.

In the late 1970s, the Commonwealth Government gradually abolished the legal architecture of racial discrimination, with the final piece of legislation – the Racial Discrimination Act – passing in 1976. It was at this point that the first non-white migrants from Africa began to arrive in Australia, reflecting major political and social changes in Africa.

Initially, the majority of migration from southern Africa was driven by opposition to apartheid and South Africans living in Australia migrated under business or family categories. As the end of apartheid accelerated, so too did the pace of immigration from the region, with South Africans making up a large proportion of all migrant arrivals in the country.

The GSM program now has two streams available to skilled migrants wishing to live and work in South Australia. The Outer Regional stream is open to migrants who are contributing to regional businesses and communities, and can offer a role that will provide employment for six months or more. The South Australia’s Skills Shortage List also provides a list of occupations for which the state can offer nomination.

For migrants, the GSM programme is a great way to get settled in Australia. As a result, demand for the programme has been high. In order to manage the high level of demand, the South Australia has implemented a new registration of interest process that will take effect from 27 September 2018. More information about how to register can be found here.


South Australia has a reputation for being a multicultural society, with vibrant festivals, international cuisine and a flourishing arts scene all reflecting a harmonious blend of cultures. While this is not a complete picture, it serves to illustrate the way in which cultural diversity has become a core component of everyday life for South Australians. With the first Multicultural Charter now in place, South Australians are showing their commitment to inclusiveness, with many government agencies being required by law to ‘have regard’ to the Charter when carrying out their duties and powers.

Although South Australia receives a larger share of migrants than other states from the Humanitarian and Skilled Migration streams, it is still only 14% of the national total. As a result, it is less diverse than other states in terms of the ethnicity of its population.

As the number of African migrant arrivals continues to grow, it is important that South Australia’s policy makers, service providers and community leaders understand these issues in order to ensure that appropriate and effective support is available for this vulnerable group. This will be critical in ensuring that the benefits of this group’s settlement in South Australia are realised.

This will help to foster good relationships between African communities and the wider local community, which is in everyone’s interests. It will also allow the local community to make use of the skills, knowledge and expertise that these migrants have to offer.

While the flow of skilled migrant arrivals has been interrupted by the pandemic, it has now resumed. The state has been able to return to a more selective approach that focuses on nominating migrants who are best placed to meet the needs of regional employers. This reflects the policy that was in place prior to the pandemic, with regional employers being encouraged to sponsor migrants who have the necessary occupations, qualifications and work experience.


The state of South Australia has a long history of multiculturalism. It is home to a large number of ethnic and religious groups that have shaped its culture and society. Its diversity is evident in its vibrant festivals, international cuisine and thriving arts scene. The state also offers a great education system that includes public, private and TAFE institutions.

In addition to its diverse population, South Australia is also a leader in immigration policy. Its earliest colonies had strict rules about who could be accepted as settlers. However, after women’s suffrage was achieved in 1895, the State began to rely more on migration to boost its population. This was a major turning point for the nation as it shifted from its traditional, patriarchal society to a more egalitarian and pluralistic one.

Since then, the State has continued to use immigration policy as a tool for economic development. Its immigration policy channels a fifth of settler arrivals into lagging peripheral areas and provides access to a range of visa categories that enable migrants to remain in the country for extended periods of time. It also supports the development of regional infrastructure, including ports and airports.

As a result of these policies, South Australia has become a diverse and dynamic cultural and social milieu. Its commitment to inclusivity is visible in its first multicultural charter released in March 2023. The charter is intended to guide government agencies, institutions and businesses in their service delivery and policy development.

South Australia is home to over 200 communities with people from more than 200 countries. These communities speak over 100 languages and are affiliated with more than 100 religions. They are located in all regions of the state and provide a rich variety of cultural experiences.

The state’s main non-English speaking countries of origin are India, China, Italy and Vietnam. It is estimated that around 15 percent of South Australians are migrants from other countries. The diversity of these migrants is reflected in the state’s many different religions, food and clothing styles. This diversity is a source of pride for South Australia. In order to address prejudice and discrimination against members of the community on the basis of their religious beliefs, the State has established a Taskforce on Religious Diversity. It has called for action by local and State governments, community organisations, schools, sport organisations, universities, complaint-management bodies and public- and private-sector employers.


The South Australian government has a policy on immigration and multiculturalism that promotes equality, social cohesion and economic growth. It provides a wide range of services to help immigrants settle and become successful. This includes access to education, employment, housing and support services. It also encourages the participation of local community members. The state’s policies also support the development of diverse cultures and the preservation of their heritage. In addition, it works to ensure that women are safe and have access to jobs, training, education and other benefits.

In South Australia, the multiculturalism agenda is framed by the state’s Multicultural Act 2021. This replaced the Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission Act 1980 (SAMEAC). The Act has a number of provisions that are aimed at promoting interculturalism and protecting against discrimination.

Multiculturalism is a complex phenomenon that requires careful consideration and thoughtful debate. The concept of multiculturalism has a long history and has evolved in different countries and regions. It is a dynamic process that has the potential to benefit society in many ways. However, there is also a risk that it could lead to polarisation and division. This is especially the case when a political ideology is associated with the term.

There have been numerous reports of a backlash against multiculturalism in the West, but it is unclear whether this is genuine or simply a reflection of public opinion. Some scholars have argued that the anti-multiculturalism movement is based on a problematic polemical mischaracterisation of multiculturalism. They argue that a more accurate understanding of the concept can allow for a revitalized diversity governance approach.

While there are some differences between countries in terms of the scope and nature of their multiculturalism policies, the overall direction is positive. The goal of multiculturalism is to achieve a harmonious integration between different cultural groups. It is essential that a balanced perspective be taken, as otherwise, the social cohesion of a nation could be compromised.

It is important to recognize that a country’s history, culture, and religion may influence its attitude toward multiculturalism. For example, some European countries have been more cautious about multiculturalism than others. This may be because they have a history of xenophobic, anti-immigration sentiments, while other countries have had more positive attitudes towards it.