Racial enclaves are geographic areas in which there is a relative demographic concentration of an ethnic group which is otherwise a racial minority. Although the precise threshold of ethnic concentration required for an area to be deemed an ‘enclave’ is unsettled, an Australian suburb which might meet this definition is Eastwood. According to the 2016 Census, 38.4% of Eastwood residents had Chinese ancestry. Equally, Chinatowns have long been perceived as ethnic enclaves. Enclaves are fundamentally imagined communities where emotionally-charged debate surrounding crime, immigration and economic empowerment are the norm.
In Denmark, an enclave is a neighbourhood in which at least 50% of the residents are immigrants from non-Western countries, at least 40% of residents are unemployed or at least 2.7% of residents have criminal convictions. In Australia, an electorate such as Wentworth in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs with around 70% Anglo-Australian ancestry is not termed an enclave. Rightly or wrongly, enclaves invoke inherent connotations of race and class.
How enclaves form comes down to history. For example, the pan-Asian cluster settled in the Fairfield local government area is attributable to the fact that during the post-Vietnam War era, several immigration centres and new housing districts were developed there. Enclaves have a longstanding place in the Australian immigration debate. In her oft-reproduced 1996 Maiden Speech, Pauline Hanson alleged that Asian migrants had their own culture and religion, did not assimilate into the Australian way of life and formed ghettoes. When it comes to parliamentary perspectives, enclaves have served as a bipartisan political framing device.
More recently, in May 2018, NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley used the archaic term “white flight” to describe what he perceived as an exodus of Anglo-Saxon Australian families from certain, increasingly ethnically diverse suburbs in Sydney. Foley named suburbs such as Lakemba, Auburn and Sefton as examples. These suburbs feature higher-than-average concentrations of Iraqi and Syrian refugees. His comments reignited the debate surrounding the concentration and clustering of ethnic groups in Australia.
Do racial enclaves promote multiculturalism?
The Conversation, ‘Suburbs ‘swamped’ by Asians and Muslims? The data show a different story’
Triple J Hack, ‘Race Commissioner: Australia is going backwards on racism’
The Australian, ‘Our cities harbour a lively patchwork of ghettos, enclaves’
SBS News, ‘Call to speak out against race 'hysteria'
Sydney Morning Herald, ‘The Sydney schools becoming Anglo ghettos’
ABC News, ‘NSW Labor leader Luke Foley apologises for 'white flight' comments as Pauline Hanson backs him in’; Herald Sun, ‘HOW WE'VE CREATED ANOTHER INSTANT ARAB GHETTO’; The Australian, ‘NSW Labor leader Luke Foley backs Tony Abbott on migration rollback’; Herald Sun, ‘Academics label western suburbs 'ghettos'.
Herald Sun, ‘ETHNIC COLONIES: HOW DO WE STAY AUSTRALIANS TOGETHER’; UNSW Social Impact Blog, ‘Would you pay extra to live among people who share your background?’