Publication Details

Klocker, N., Toole, S., Tindale, A. & Kerr, S. (2015). Ethnically diverse transport behaviours: an Australian perspective. Geographical Research, 53 (4), 393-405.


Rates of car ownership in Australia are among the highest in the world. Private cars have shaped the urban form of Australian cities and the daily routines of their residents, making it possible to fulfil geographically stretched responsibilities for work, family, and social lives. But the dominance of the private car in Australian lives and landscapes should not be confused with universality. Aggregate, population-wide statistics of car ownership and use mask the fact that not all Australians are equally car dependent. In this paper, we report on the results of a household sustainability survey conducted in metropolitan Sydney and Wollongong. Overseas-born persons, migrants, and (some) ethnic minority groups were found to own fewer cars - and to use them less - than their Anglo-Australian and Australian-born counterparts. These differences were not attributable to socio-economic or demographic factors. Our findings, which point towards the existence of diverse cultures of transport within the Australian population, are significant for transport planning and policymaking. Given profound concerns about the environmental implications of car use, the environmentally (more) sustainable transport behaviours of ethnic minorities and migrants should be supported. A shift in research focus away from the most car-dependent groups in Australian society may also be more widely instructive. The transport practices, experiences, and strategies of those who own and drive cars at below-average rates may indeed contribute practical lessons to inform planning for more environmentally sustainable transport futures.



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