Greek Australians

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Greek Australians
Greek Australian christening party, at Bondi Beach 1946.
Total population
424,750 by ancestry (2021 census)[1]
(1.7% of the Australian population)[1]
92,314 born in Greece[1]
Regions with significant populations
Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth
Australian English · Greek (Greco-Australian)
Christianity (Greek Orthodoxy)
Related ethnic groups
Cypriot Australians · Greek New Zealanders · Greek diaspora

Greek Australians (Greek: Ελληνοαυστραλοί, romanizedEllinoafstralí) are Australians of Greek ancestry. Greek Australians are one of the largest groups within the global Greek diaspora. As per the 2021 Australian census, 424,750 people stated that they had Greek ancestry (whether alone or in combination with another ancestry), comprising 1.7% of the Australian population.[1] At the 2021 census, 92,314 Australian residents were born in Greece.[1]

Greek immigration to Australia has been one of the largest migratory flows in the history of Australia, especially after World War II and the Greek Civil War. The flow of migrants from Greece increased slightly in 2015 due to the economic crisis in Greece,[2] with Australia as one of the main destinations for departing Greeks, mainly to Melbourne, where the Greek Australian community is most deeply established.[3]

88% of Greek Australians speak Greek and 91% are Christians and members of the Greek Orthodox Church.[4]

Australia and Greece have a close bilateral relationship based on historical ties and the rich contribution of Greek Australians to Australian society. In 2019, the export of Australian services to Greece was valued at $92 million, while services imports from Greece totalled $750 million. Australia's stock of investment in Greece in 2019 totalled $481 million, while investment in Australia from Greece was $192 million.[5]


Early Greek immigration[edit]

Greek immigration to Australia began in the early colonial period in the 19th century. The first known Greeks arrived in 1829.[6] These Greeks were seven sailors, convicted of piracy by a British naval court, and were sentenced to transportation to New South Wales. Though they were eventually pardoned, two of those seven Greeks stayed and settled in the country. One settled on the Monaro Plains in Southern New South Wales and one at Picton near Sydney.[citation needed] Their names were Ghikas Bulgaris known as Jigger Bulgari, and Andonis Manolis. Jigger Bulgari married an Irish woman, and they had many children. Jigger was buried at Nimmitabel Pioneer Cemetery. The Hellenic Club of Canberra laid a commemorative marble plaque over his resting place around 2000. Andonis Manolis' grave is in the old cemetery at Mittagong. The first known free Greek migrant to Australia was Katerina Georgia Plessos (1809–1907),[7] who arrived in Sydney with her husband Major James Crummer in 1835. They married in 1827 on the island of Kalamos where Crummer, the island's commandant, met the young refugee from the Greek independence wars. In her youth, she must have been one of the last living people to speak to Lord Byron. They lived in Sydney, Newcastle and Port Macquarie. They had 11 children.[8] The first wave of free Hellenic migrants commenced in the 1850s, and continued through the end of the 19th century, prompted in part by the recent discovery of gold in the country.[9]

20th-century Greek immigration[edit]

Orpheus Arfaras, Greek ceramicist, Sydney, 1952

From the last decade of the 19th century until World War I, the number of Greeks immigrating to Australia increased steadily and Hellenic communities were reasonably well established in Melbourne and Sydney at this time. The Greek language press began in Australia and in 1913, Australia had the first Greek weekly newspaper called Afstralia that was published in Melbourne.[10]

Anna Perivolaris was a leading organiser of Greek culture in Sydney in the 1920s until she was head hunted to organise a Greek after school club in Perth.[11]

There was a significant population of Greeks in Australia during World War I, especially from the Greek islands, which led to the community being heavily monitored and counted in a 'secret census' in 1916, due to questions of Greek loyalty as Greece was initially neutral during the war.[12] Later the Greeks were raising money for the Greek Government in exile.[11]

After the changes in Greece from the mid 1970s, including the fall of the Papadopoulos regime in 1974 and the formal inclusion of Greece into the European Union, Greek immigration to Australia has slowed since the 1971 peak of 160,200 arrivals. Within Australia, the Greek immigrants have been "extremely well organised socially and politically", with approximately 600 Greek organisations in the country by 1973, and immigrants have strived to maintain their faith and cultural identity.[13]

By comparison, the Greek Cypriot community in Australia doubled following the Invasion of Cyprus by Turkey following a campaign of ethnic cleansing in 1974. [14]

21st-century Greek immigration[edit]

Greek Australians during a parade for Australia Day in Melbourne (2014)

Since the year 2000, Greek immigration to Australia has slowed down.[citation needed] As the economic crisis in Greece grew, the opportunities for temporary resident Greek Australians abroad were limited.

In the early 2010s, there has been an increase of Greek immigration flows to Australia due to unemployment, among other issues, because of the economic crisis in Greece. This has led to the return of many Greek Australians which had gone to Greece before the crisis and also the arrival of newcomers from Greece, who have been received by the large Greek Australian community, mainly in Melbourne.[15]


At the 2021 census, 424,750 people stated that they had Greek ancestry (whether alone or in combination with another ancestry), comprising 1.7% of the Australian population.[1] At the 2021 census, 92,314 Australian residents were born in Greece.[1]

The largest concentration of Greek Australians is in the state of Victoria, which is often regarded as the heartland of the Greek Australian community. Victoria's capital Melbourne has the largest Greek Australian community in Australia.

The 2021 census showed that the following states had the largest numbers of people nominating Greek ancestry: Victoria (181,184), New South Wales (141,627), South Australia (40,704), Queensland (32,702), Western Australia (16,117).[16]

One study investigating the 54 most common ethnic groups in Australia found that Greek Australians had the lowest rate of intermarriage (marrying outside their ethnicity) than every other ethnicity in the first, second and third generations.[17]



According to the 2016 Australian census, 91.4% of Australians with Greek ancestry are Christian, mainly Eastern Orthodox; however, minorities who belong to different Christian denominations like Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and Pentecostals also exist. Together, these other denominations make up 0.4% of the Greek Australian population. 5.6% identified as spiritual, secular or irreligious, and 2.6% did not answer the census question on religion.[18] Greek Australians are predominantly Greek Orthodox.[18] The largest religious body of Greek Orthodox Australians is the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, with its headquarters at the Cathedral of The Annunciation of Our Lady in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern.

Greek language[edit]

In 2016, the Greek language was spoken at home by 237,588 Australian residents, a 5.8% decrease from the 2011 census data. Greek is the seventh most commonly spoken language in Australia after English, Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Italian.[19] The remainder of the ethnic Greek population in Australia mainly use English as their first language. Most Greek Australians speak the Greco-Australian dialect. Greco-Australian is an Australian-based dialect of Greek that is spoken by the local disapora, including by both Greek immigrants and Australians of Greek descent.[20]


The Greek language press began in Australia in 1913 when the first Greek weekly newspaper was published in Melbourne. In South Australia, the local Greek community published a short-lived newspaper called Okeanis (Oceania), around 1914 before it moved to Sydney.[21] On 16 November 1926, George Marsellos and John Stilson published a broadsheet under the name Panellenios Keryx (Panhellenic Herald or The Greek Herald), becoming the second national Greek newspaper in Australia.[22] In 1935 and 1936 a third newspaper, Pharos (Lighthouse), was published, and a number of short-lived titles were issued in the late 1960s, with the longest of these being Tachydromos (Mailman), founded in September 1968.[21] In 1957, Hellenic/Greek language newspaper Neos Kosmos was founded by Dimitri Gogos, Bill Stefanou and Alekos Doukas, the latter also being an exceptionally well known author. Since 1994, a publication called Paroikiako Vema (Steps in the adopted Country) and printed in Renmark, has served the Greek community in rural South Australia.[23]

Multicultural broadcaster SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) airs a Greek-language radio program every afternoon from 4 PM to 6 PM. The program features news, current affairs, music, interviews, and a talkback segment, where listeners can dial into the program from 5:30 PM onwards and express their opinion on a topic being focused on. Additionally, SBS also airs Greek public broadcaster ERT's Eidiseis news program every morning as part of their WorldWatch programming block.

Notable individuals[edit]


Art and design[edit]


Andrew Demetriou, former chief executive of the Australian Football League (AFL)
Andrew N. Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical Company


Ada Nicodemou, actress
Diana Glenn, actress

Film, theatre, and television[edit]

George Miller, director of Babe (1995), Happy Feet (2006), and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Alex Proyas, director of The Crow (1994) and I, Robot (2004)






Science and technology[edit]


Australian rules football[edit]

Boxing and kickboxing[edit]


Flying disc[edit]

Ange Postecoglou, soccer manager and former player


Mixed martial arts[edit]

Rugby league[edit]








See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "2021 Census of Population and Housing - General Community Profile". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 28 June 2022. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  2. ^ Greek (24 June 2015). "Greeks fleeing to Melbourne due to crisis". Archived from the original on 28 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  3. ^ ABC News (23 June 2015). "Greek nationals move to Melbourne to escape growing economic, social crisis". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 28 August 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  4. ^ SBS. "Greek Culture - Cultural Atlas". Archived from the original on 3 April 2023. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  5. ^ "Greece country brief". Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Archived from the original on 3 June 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  6. ^ "Department of Immigration & Citizenship: Media – Publications: Statistics – Community Information Summaries". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  7. ^ "First Hellenes in Australia". The Athenian Association of Sydney and NSW. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  8. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
  9. ^ Appleyard, Reginald; Yiannakis, John N. (2002). Greek Pioneers in Western Australia. UWA Publishing. p. 27.
  10. ^ School of Historical Studies, Department of History. "Greeks - Entry - eMelbourne - The Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online". Archived from the original on 18 November 2022. Retrieved 18 November 2022.
  11. ^ a b Yiannakis, John N., "Anna Perivolaris (1888–1963)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, archived from the original on 17 February 2024, retrieved 17 February 2024
  12. ^ Yianni Cartledge & Andrekos Varnava (2024) 'Making and Monitoring a ‘Suspect Community’: Australian Attacks on Greeks and the ‘Secret Census’ in 1916', Australian Historical Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1031461X.2023.2293837 - see:
  13. ^ Keays, Sue (2004). "Yassou, Souvlakia and Paniyiri: Adapting Greek Culture for Australians Archived 19 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine". Social Change in the 21st Century Conference. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Origins: History of immigration from Cyprus - Immigration Museum, Melbourne Australia". Archived from the original on 23 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  15. ^ ABC News (11 October 2013). "Greek-Australian citizens look to Australia to escape economic crisis". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 9 July 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing: Cultural diversity data summary, 2021". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 28 June 2022. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  17. ^ Siew-Ean Khoo; Bob Birrell; Genevieve Heard (2009). "Intermarriage by Birthplace and Ancestry in Australia" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  18. ^ a b "Australian Bureau of Statistic". Archived from the original on 11 April 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  19. ^ Statistics, c=AU; o=Commonwealth of Australia; ou=Australian Bureau of. "Redirect to Census data page". Retrieved 6 January 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ Kalimniou, Dean (29 June 2020). "Tongues of Greek Australia: An Anglicised Hellenic language". Neos Kosmos. Archived from the original on 27 October 2023. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  21. ^ a b "SA Memory - SA Newspapers : Non-English language newspapers". 23 February 2007. Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  22. ^ Gilchrist, Hugh (1992). Australians and Greeks: The middle years. Australia: Australia: Halstead Press. pp. 346–349. ISBN 1875684026.
  23. ^ Laube, Anthony. "LibGuides: SA Newspapers: Non-English". Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  24. ^ Professor Nicholas Athanasou, Professor of Musculoskeletal Pathology and Emeritus Fellow Archived 24 December 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "Hugh Jackman declares "I'm Greek" - Neos Kosmos". 10 August 2015. Archived from the original on 11 August 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  26. ^ "Chris Karan - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 23 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  27. ^ "The Australian People" an encyclopedia of the nation, its people and their origins, by James Jupp – published 1988


  • Tamis, Anastasios (2005). The Greeks in Australia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-54743-1
  • Gilchrist, Hugh (1992), Australians and Greeks Volume I: The Early Years, Brown, Prior, Anderson Pty. Ltd., ISBN 978-1-875684-01-4
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (1998). In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians. Hale & Iremonger Pty Limited. ISBN 0-86806-655-9
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (1995). Images of Home: Mavri Xenitia. Hale & Iremonger Pty Limited. ISBN 0-86806-560-9
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (2013). Selling an American Dream: Australia's Greek Cafe. Macquarie University. ISBN 9781741383959
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (2016). Greek Cafes & Milk Bars of Australia. Halstead Press. ISBN 9781925043181

External links[edit]