Migration, Sydney’s ‘x factor’ to join global cities’ elite

Migration, Sydney’s ‘x factor’ to join global elite

Claudia Doman

Richard Hu

Dr Richard Hu, leading investigator in research on migration and global cities.  Photo: Michelle McAulay

1 March 2013: Migration could be the ‘x factor’ that is changing Sydney’s face as a global powerhouse, a University of Canberra researcher has found.

Using Sydney as a case study, urban planning lecturer Richard Hu is leading a team to develop a global migration index to learn about the multicultural make up of urban areas in Sydney to better inform policy and national strategy to compete in a globalised world.

Dr Hu’s research is showing how ‘people flow’ –not only trade and finance- is fundamental to creating a global economy. He says the interplay among migration, capital, trade, and knowledge-sharing is essential to understanding the way globalisation affects cities.

“People movement is more than physical movement; when people move, they take with them ideas, culture, skills and the networks to their country of origin,” Dr Hu said.

“These factors are what give a city, in this case Sydney, its competitive edge against other cities in a world in which just a few – New York, London and Paris – are truly competing in this globalised world.”

The study is part of the project Social Transformations, Migration and Global Cities, a research collaboration between the University of Canberra and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Preliminary results from the study show that Sydney has a significant, ever-increasing foreign-born population; where in some areas – like Auburn, Fairfield, Strathfield and Burwood – it accounts for more than 50 percent of its residents.

“Sydney’s competitiveness as a global city lies on this diversity, a tolerance of cultures and harnessing the skills of its migrant workers,” Dr Hu said.

“We are studying which factors are attracting these people to Sydney and whether the move has translated into proper opportunities.

“A taxi driver in Sydney might have been an engineer in India, so the question is, ‘are we making the most of this brain gain?’ and looking at how this impacts the city in order to better inform urban management and immigration policy.”

Dr Hu presented his first seminar on the research project on 20 February at the University’s ANZSOG Institute for Governance.

Listen to his presentation on our YouTube Channel: