MYTHBUSTING | #2 Whiter than white

Posted on 02/02/2012


Recently I’ve started to note references to ‘ethnoburbs‘ and commentaries about the cultural diversity of suburban communities. The view of suburbs as culturally homogenous is gradually subsiding. I’ve written about suburban whiteness in other posts, partly reflecting on my own growing up in an unbearably white suburb and an education system that was a machine for perpetuatiing racism. Sameness is atrophy.

The myth of suburban cultural homogeneity is under scrutiny here, again with ABS maps of 2006 Census data for overseas born residents. In the 2006 Census, 24 per cent were born overseas, higher than the national proportion. Notably those born in the UK and New Zealand are more prevalent. Brisbane’s pockets of cultural diversity tend to cluster in the inner city and southern suburbs with a possibly growing diversity in the outer north. The middle north is among the least diverse.

Residents born overseas – Brisbane LGA by SLA

In Aspley, the highest proportions of people born overseas is in the areas including caravan parks and newer masterplanned estates and gated communities. Other concentrations are found in the newer areas, including luxury housing, while the lowest proportions are found in the older subdivisions. Overseas born residents represent 20 per cent of the population, lower than the national proportion. Interestingly, one of the retirement villages is among the least diverse CCDs.

Residents born overseas – Aspley SLA by CCD

Also 1.4 per cent of residents are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is lower than the national proportion. The maps reveal population distribution, with the highest concentration of 3-8 per cent in the area where the caravan parks are located. In Aspley, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents represent 0.9 per cent of the population, less than half the national proportion. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has increased from 0.7 percent in 2001.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Residents – Brisbane LGA by SLA

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Residents – Aspley SLA by CCD

ABS Time Series reveals increases in the overseas born and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Aspley since 1991. Strangely, the proportion of people born overseas in Aspley dropped since 2001 by 0.4 per cent, a difference of 15 persons. These figures do indicate a tendency to whiteness; Aspley is far from becoming an ‘ethnoburb’ like Sunnybank. However, as I walk around the locality, the diversity seems evident, even palpable, with ethnic food stores and new households. There are indicators of changing cultural diversity and the next Census will hopefully reveal the changes I’ve observed.