Castles, Stephen, Demographic change and the development of a multicultural society in Australia, Centre for Multicultural Studies, University of Wollongong, Occasional Paper 15, 1988, 41.
1988 is the Bicentenary of white settlement of the Australian continent. It is estimated that the Aboriginal population in 1788 was about 300,000. It was not until about 1860 that Australia's population exceeded 1 million. (Hugo 1986: 3). When the postwar immigration program started in 1947, there were 7.6 million people (DILGEA 1988: 12). Since then the population has doubled to 15.6 million of which only 228,000 (1.5%) are Aborigines or Torres Strait Islanders (TSI) (Census 1986).1 Clearly Australia is a young country which has gone through a period of extremely rapid demographic growth. Since the Second World War, about half the growth in population has been the result of immigration. One in five residents of Australia were born overseas: a further one in five were born in Australia with one or both parents being immigrants. Together, first and second generation immigrants make up 40% of the population. In a wider sense, all Australians, except the Aborigines, can trace their origins back to the migrations of the last two centuries. Australia today is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, with over 100 different groups. In Australia, nation-building and immigration go hand-in-hand, which is why immigration has been and remains a central political issue. The Minister of Immigration, Ethnic Affairs and Local Government is a member of the inner Cabinet.