Pages Menu
Vimeo
Categories Menu

Diversity of birthplace

Australia’s cultural diversityDiversity of birthplace Diversity of languageDiversity of religion and spiritual beliefs

Australians come from over 200 countries according to the 2016 Census. Each of these groups has its own cultural diversity as a result of history, regional differences, internal and external population movements, as well as variations related to factors such as class, gender, intermarriage and urban and rural environments.

Indigenous Australians

The term Indigenous is a term that has evolved through international law to acknowledge the particular relationship of the original inhabitants of a country or geographical region to their lands. In Australia, the term Indigenous refers to people who are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. The Indigenous community of Australia is diverse and comprised of a wide range of cultural groups speaking many different languages.

The following data is derived from the 2016 Census:

  • About 649,200 people or 3% of the Australian population identified as being of Indigenous origin. Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, the Indigenous population increased by 18% or 100,800 people.
  • Of this group, 590,100 people (91%) stated they were of Aboriginal origin only and 32,300 people (5%) reported to be of Torres Strait Islander origin only. 26,800 people (4%) reported to be of both origins.
  • The States/Territories with the highest Indigenous populations are New South Wales (216,200 or 33% of the total Indigenous population of Australia), Queensland (186,500 or 29%), Western Australia (76,000 or 12%) and the Northern Territory (58,200 or 9%).
  • Around 25% of people in the Northern Territory are of Indigenous origin. In all other States/Territories [3] , Indigenous Australians comprise less than 5% of total state populations.
  • Most Torres Strait Islander people (62%) live in Queensland while 15% live in New South Wales and 6% live in the Victoria.
Table 1: People of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin 2016
State/Territory Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Proportion of total population
New South Wales 207,256 4,839 4,080 2.9
Victoria 44,592 2,024 1,171 0.8
Queensland 148,943 21,053 16,493 4.0
South Australia 32,616 938 629 2.0
Western Australia 72,924 1,434 1,628 3.1
Tasmania 21,570 1,119 2,8889 4.6
Northern Territory 55,805 744 1,699 25.5
Australian Capital Territory 6,140 183 183 1.6
Other Territories 215 13 3 5.0
Australia 590,056 32,345 26,767

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Customised tables

Overseas born

The birthplace of overseas-born residents gives some indication of the diversity of ethnicity of a population. When Australian born residents with one or both parents born overseas are combined with overseas born a fuller picture of cultural diversity emerges.

The following data is derived from the 2016 Census:

  • Around 26% of Australians were born overseas and 67% were born in Australia. [4]
  • Around 19% of people were born in non-English speaking countries compared to 8% who were born in English speaking countries [5] other than Australia.
  • The largest overseas born group comprised people born in the United Kingdom [6] (1,087,800 people or 5% of the population) followed by New Zealand (518,500 people or 2%), then China [7] (509,600 people or 2%) and India (455,400 people or 2%). No other individual country accounted for more than 1%.
  • The State with the largest number of overseas born people was New South Wales (2,072,500 people) followed by Victoria (1,680,300 people) and Queensland (1,015,900 people). Western Australia had the highest proportion of overseas born residents (32%) excluding Other Territories [8] which also reported 32% in 2016.
Table 2: Top 30 birthplaces of the Australian population 2016
Country Persons % Total population
Australia 15,614,835 66.72
England 907,570 3.88
New Zealand 518,466 2.22
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) 509,555 2.18
India 455,389 1.95
Philippines 232,386 0.99
Vietnam 219,355 0.94
Italy 174,042 0.74
South Africa 162,449 0.69
Malaysia 138,364 0.59
Scotland 119,417 0.51
Sri Lanka 109,849 0.47
Germany 102,595 0.44
Korea, Republic of (South) 98,776 0.42
Greece 93,743 0.40
Hong Kong (SAR of China) 86,886 0.37
United States of America 86,125 0.37
Lebanon 78,653 0.34
Ireland 74,888 0.32
Indonesia 73,213 0.31
Netherlands 70,172 0.30
Iraq 67,352 0.29
Thailand 66,229 0.28
Pakistan 61,913 0.26
Fiji 61,469 0.26
Iran 58,112 0.25
Singapore 54,939 0.23
Nepal 54,754 0.23
Taiwan 46,822 0.20
Afghanistan 46,799 0.20

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Customised tables

Table 3: Top 10 countries of birth outside Australia 2016 by State and Territory
New South Wales Victoria Queensland South Australia Western Australia Tasmania Northern Territory Australian Capital Territory Other Territories
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) England New Zealand England England England Philippines England Malaysia
England India England India New Zealand New Zealand England China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) Norfolk Island
India China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) India China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) India China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) New Zealand India New Zealand
New Zealand New Zealand China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) Italy South Africa Scotland India New Zealand England
Philippines Vietnam South Africa Vietnam Philippines Netherlands Greece Philippines Philippines
Vietnam Italy Philippines New Zealand Malaysia Germany United States of America Vietnam Fiji
Lebanon Sri Lanka Scotland Philippines China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) India China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) United States of America Singapore
Korea, Republic of (South) Philippines Germany Scotland Scotland United States of America Nepal Sri Lanka South Africa
Italy Malaysia Vietnam Germany Italy Philippines Indonesia Malaysia Vietnam
South Africa Greece Korea, Republic of (South) Greece Ireland South Africa Ireland Korea, Republic of (South) Iran

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Customised tables

Ancestry

A person’s ancestry, when used in conjunction with the person’s birthplace, language, religion and birthplace of their parents, provides a good indication of their ethnic background. This is particularly useful for identifying distinct cultural groups such as Maoris and South Sea Islanders and groups which are spread across countries such as Kurds or Indians. In the 2016 Census, respondents were asked to mark their ancestries back as far as two generations. Respondents were asked to report at least one ancestry, but no more than two.

The following data is derived from the 2016 Census:

  • About 47% of respondents indicated that both parents were born in Australia.
  • About 45% of respondents indicated that at least one of their parents was born overseas.
  • About 22% of first responses to the ancestry question indicated that they were of Australian ancestry.
  • The most common first response ancestries other than Australian identified by respondents were English, Irish, Chinese, Scottish, Italian, and Indian. Other common ancestries identified were German, Greek, Vietnamese, Filipino and Lebanese.
Table 4: Ancestry by birthplace of parents 2016
Ancestry (1st Response) Both parents born overseas Father only born overseas Mother only born overseas Both parents born in Australia Not stated – birthplace for either or both parents not stated Total
English 1,689,319 681,705 511,593 4,813,438 115,798 7,811,847
Australian 134,334 348,442 280,316 3,986,497 83,504 4,833,103
Irish 214,985 87,631 58,477 866,111 16,355 1,243,570
Chinese 1,058,166 13,584 21,515 24,123 8,535 1,125,918
Scottish 213,950 90,831 66,094 511,050 11,796 893,721
Italian 403,978 83,200 34,910 228,781 9,695 760,557
Indian 536,254 2,570 2,450 1,580 3,266 546,125
German 170,298 34,388 23,919 209,292 6,251 444,152
Greek 207,297 22,653 11,762 51,876 3,563 297,145
Vietnamese 245,056 1,573 2,291 1,288 2,877 253,086
Filipino 231,103 1,254 2,922 930 2,747 238,960
Lebanese 136,570 19,298 9,153 15,271 2,091 182,375
Dutch 120,597 8,385 5,177 15,160 1,512 150,826
Korean 111,113 404 601 994 563 113,672
Polish 84,212 4,159 3,013 8,443 995 100,818
Maltese 69,828 6,668 3,983 14,545 1,076 96,085
Sri Lankan 90,070 823 593 590 549 92,621
Australian Aboriginal 488 1,596 652 86,667 1,533 90,939
Croatian 71,622 4,821 2,806 8,222 969 88,434
Macedonian 64,032 4,919 2,900 6,977 804 79,642
New Zealander 66,190 2,611 1,873 1,352 942 72,966
South African 68,454 997 732 493 450 71,125
Maori 56,889 2,108 1,563 1,026 1,257 62,842
Turkish 51,837 3,673 2,190 2,179 583 60,459
Nepalese 58,846 66 85 37 348 59,381
Spanish 52,905 1,682 1,239 2,843 648 59,311
Serbian 51,327 2,457 1,591 2,224 717 58,313
Pakistani 55,377 517 313 123 299 56,627
Other 1,648,447 43,558 30,736 81,107 20,694 1,824,593
Not stated 87,608 11,552 9,157 127,272 1,397,087 1,632,683

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Customised tables

Refugees

The information in this section is derived from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection Factsheet- Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian programme.

Refugees and people seeking residency in Australia for humanitarian reasons make up an important and sizeable component of the overall migrant intake. The Humanitarian Programme, a component of Australia’s immigration program, assists people affected by international humanitarian crises including refugees and other people suffering human rights violations. Since World War II, over 740,000 refugees and people in humanitarian need have been resettled in Australia including people from Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Africa.

According to Humanitarian Programme statistics for 2015-16 [9]:

  • 17,555 visas were granted, significantly lower than 2006 with 14,144.
  • Of these, 15,552 visas were granted to persons overseas and 2,003 visas were granted to people in Australia.
  • 28.02% of visas were granted to people from Iraq, 27.3% were granted to people from Syria, 29% were granted to people from Asia and the Middle East 11% were granted to people from Africa and 4.68% were granted to people from the rest of the world. A small number of visas were also granted to people from Europe and the Americas.
Offshore resettlement programme, grants by region of birth 2015-2016
Countries Number of visas granted
Africa 1,665
Middle East 10,569
Asia 3,308
Other 10
Total 15,552
Humanitarian programme grants by category: 2011-12 to 2015-16
Humanitarian programme grants by category 2011/12 - 2015/16
Offshore visa grants by top ten countries of birth 2015-16
2015–16 Offshore visa grants by top 10 countries of birth

Population statistics –  Australia’s cultural diversityDiversity of birthplace Diversity of languageDiversity of religion and spiritual beliefs