Although the first Somali community in Victoria was established in 1988, most Somalis began to settle in the country in the early 1990s following the civil war in Somalia. Somali Australians are active in the nation's cultural and political scenes, having also contributed significantly to local business.
While the Somali community in Victoria was first established in 1988, most Somalis began to settle in the country in the early 1990s following the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia. About 80 per cent of the new arrivals came under the aegis of the local Refugee and Special Humanitarian Program. As with many other immigrant communities, Somali community organizations are also supported through the national Diverse Australia Program, a grass-roots informational and financial initiative aimed at enhancing societal relations.
Somalis are especially well represented in Victoria, having been drawn to the region's Muslim community, job opportunities and reputation for cultural diversity. The 2006 census reported some 2,624 Somalia-born residents in Victoria, a 14% rise from the previous census five years prior.
While faced with unique challenges such as having to adjust to life in a new country, learn a foreign language, and support family members back in Somalia, community members have gradually begun to integrate into Victoria's broader multi-cultural society. Most Somali men have found jobs in the transport and production industries, and a rising number of women in the community do clerical work.
Communal support networks have also expanded. In 1988, the Somali Community of Victoria was established to offer support to the local Somali community and to promote Somali culture, as was the Somali Cultural Association seven years later. A Muslim community, the Somali Cultural Association likewise assists Somalis in the country to observe the holy month of Ramadan and the yearly celebrations marking the hajj.
Somali Australians are active in the nation's cultural and political scenes, having also contributed significantly to local business.