Non-english speaking migrants low on volunteer spirit

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Sydney, Feb 11 (UNI) Migrants from non-English-speaking countries are less likely to be volunteers than Australian-born people or migrants from English-speaking nations, latest study shows.

Lower levels of volunteering can be seen in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods.

Ethnic diversity leads to a stronger and more cohesive society, as challenged by Ernest Healy, senior research fellow at the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University.

''When you create societies from mixed backgrounds it may not lead to overt violence but to something scarier, a withdrawal from the civic sphere and a feeling of less connectedness'' The Age qouted Dr Healy as saying.

Suburbs with a high degree of ethnic diversity have lower rates of volunteering than more homogenous localities, even when income and age are similar, according to the study based on 2006 census data for Melbourne.

About 18 per cent of Australian-born middle-income earners aged 25 to 64 were volunteers compared to only 13 per cent of those from non-English speaking countries.

''It would be wrong to conclude migrants from non-English-speaking countries were unfriendly and uncaring and less altruistic than Australian-born people. It was likely their altruism was directed to friends, families and neighbours, not through organised civic, sporting, and welfare organisations,'' concluded Dr Healy.

However, altruism directed through formal groups represented a 'commitment to the broader social good'.

UNI XC PD KP1130

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