Chilean Australian

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Chilean Australians
Chile Australia
ChrisWatsonSepia crop.jpg
Peggy Antonio.jpg
Total population

33,626 (by ancestry, 2006)

23,305 (by birth, 2006).[2]
Regions with significant populations
Sydney (2006 est.) 10,909
Melbourne (2006 est.) 6,530
English and Spanish
 · Roman Catholic (Predominantly) · Protestant · Evangelical · Jewish  · Atheist  · Agnostic
Related ethnic groups
other Latin American Australians, Spaniards, other Europeans, others

Chilean Australians are Australians of Chilean descent or Chileans who have obtained Australian citizenship. Chileans are the second largest group of Latin American Australians residing in Australia. The biggest Chilean Australian communities are primarily found in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.[3]


According to the 2006 Australian Census, 23,305 Australians were born in Chile[2] while 25,439 claimed Chilean ancestry, either alone or with another ancestry.[4] The Australian 2001 Census reports that 63% of Chilean-born respondents nominated their leading ancestry as Spaniard, while others nominated a Croatian (19%), German (8%), Italian (6%) or English (4%) ancestry.[5]

The largest Chilean Australian communities are in Sydney (10,909 residents, 2006 Census result)[6] and Melbourne (6,530).[7]

A Chilean government study conducted by the Chilean National Institute of Statistics in 2003-04 and published in 2005 found that 33,626 first and second generation Chileans were living in Australia. This figure was gathered by combining the population reported in the 2001 Australian Census and the National Registry for Chileans living abroad.[8][9][10] One estimate of Chilean-Australians (including those born in Chile and those of Chilean descent) is approximately 40,000, another 2006 estimate is as high as 45,000.[11]

History and cultural background[edit]

In 1837, two Chileans arrived in Sydney, the first on record in Australia. One was former Chilean president Ramón Freire, exiled from Chile after attempting to re-take power in a coup. He did not settle in Australia, however, and eventually returned to his homeland.[12] Chilean migration to Australia occurred at different times from the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century. The first Labour Party Prime Minister of Australia, Chris Watson, was born in Valparaíso, Chile the son of a Chilean citizen of German descent.[13] Chilean people first arrived in great numbers in the late 1970s and 1980s, mostly in exile as a result of the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973–1989). Migration studies demonstrate that late 20th century Chilean migration to Australia occurred in three distinguishable waves.[11] In the 1960s, especially between the years 1968-70, around 1,500-2,000 Chileans arrived in Australia as a consequence of the economic recession produced during the government of Eduardo Frei Montalva, and the high level of unemployment at the termination of his administration. The majority of these people were middle class and well educated, and their migration can be seen to have an economic basis.

The second significant group to arrive was likely motivated by the presidential election of Salvador Allende in 1970. Allende was the world's first democratically-elected Marxist President of any nation.[14] His ascension to the presidency provoked a high level of uncertainty amongst the wealthy, given his stated platform of nationalisation of mining, industry, and services. The political and economic unrest that followed prompted many Chileans to flee the threat of political and social instability. This group was, again, overwhelmingly middle class, with sufficient resources (education and finance) to establish themselves as small business operators within Australia. By 1971, 3,760 Chilean-born people were registered in Australia. In this group arrived laser physicist and author Frank Duarte who became the first South American to graduate with a Ph.D. from an Australian university, and leader of the Macquarie science reform movement.

The third distinguishable wave of immigration to Australia was the greatest in number by far, and was characterised in large part by Chileans fleeing their homeland as a consequence of political events following the 1973 military coup and subsequent military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

This wave of Chilean migrants was quite homogeneous, comprised in the majority by skilled workers, and at times, their families. In this regard the middle class was represented only in the minority. Political elitists and intellectuals from the left were also small in numbers, due to their preference for Eastern Europe and socialist nations in Latin America. Current Chilean president Michelle Bachelet briefly lived in Australia with family already present in the country after the coup of 1973 later moving to East Germany.[15][16]

Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship over Chile lasted until 1990. During his regime more than 500,000 Chileans fled the country,[17] 21,029 of whom sought sanctuary in Australia. However, several thousand have and are still returning to Chile from all over the world as the economic boom of the country has prospered the nation, granting a quality of life often superior to the countries that once received them as exiles.

Notable Chilean Australians[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex - Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). Chile Somos Todos. Chile Somos Todos. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  2. ^ a b "20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex - Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  3. ^ Jupp, James (2001). The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, its People and their Origins. Cambridge University Press. pp. 195–7. ISBN 0-521-80789-1. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  4. ^ "20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex - Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  5. ^ "4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2003 : Population characteristics: Ancestry of Australia's population". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2008-05-19. On the other hand, people arriving in Australia from the same birthplace may have different ethnic and cultural affiliations. For example, the ancestries of East Timor-born people living in Australia were Chinese (61%), Timorese (40%) and Portuguese (10%). Of people born in New Zealand, 14% stated Maori as their ancestry, while English (52%) and New Zealander (21%) were the most common responses. As with those born in New Zealand and Australia, ancestries given by those born in some other countries often include a national ancestry and one associated with a colonial power. Thus, a large proportion of those born in Chile reported their ancestry as Chilean (63%), but Spanish was also relatively common (29%). 
  6. ^ 20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex - Sydney
  7. ^ 20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex - Melbourne
  8. ^ (Spanish)
  9. ^ (Spanish)
  10. ^ (Spanish)
  11. ^ a b "Chilean Immigration". Chilean Community. Embassy of Chile in Australia. 2006-06-02. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  12. ^ Origins: History of immigration from Chile - Immigration Museum, Melbourne Australia
  13. ^ Watson, John Christian (Chris) (1867 - 1941) Biographical Entry - Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
  14. ^ BBC - h2g2 - 11 September, 1973 - The Day Democracy Died in Chile
  15. ^ Reel, Monte (2006-03-12). "Bachelet Sworn In As Chile's President". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  16. ^ Profile: Michelle Bachelet - International Herald Tribune
  17. ^ Migration Information Source - Chile: Moving Towards a Migration Policy
  18. ^ "Board of Directors". Australia Chile Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 

External links[edit]