Asian Australians

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Asian Australians
Total population
2.4 million (2011)
12% of Australian population[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
Capital cities of Australia
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide
External territories of Australia
Christmas Island (More than 90%)[A]
Australian English · Asian languages
Buddhism · Christianity · Islam · Hinduism · Sikhism · East Asian religions · Indian religions · other religions

Asian Australians refers to Australians of Asian ancestry.

For the purposes of aggregating data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG) has grouped certain ethnic groups into certain categories, including North-East Asian (e.g. Chinese Australians), South-East Asian (e.g. Vietnamese Australians), South Asian (e.g. Indian Australians) and Central Asian (e.g. Afghan Australians).[5]

At the 2011 Census 2.4 million Australians declared that they had an Asian ancestral background.[1] This represents about 12% of all responses.

History of immigration[edit]

Gold rush[edit]

Early Chinese migration stemmed from the phenomenon of the Victorian gold rush. This was met with some considerable opposition due to existing sinophobia and anti-Chinese sentiment.[citation needed] Racial tensions escalated into several riots at Lambing Flat and Buckland. Later, entry taxes, killings and segregation in the short term and became the foundations of the White Australia policy.[dubious ][6][7]

Immigration restriction[edit]

In the 1870s and 1880s, the trade union movement began a series of protests against foreign labour. The union movement was critical of Asians, mainly Chinese, who did not join unions, and who were prepared to work for lower wages and conditions.[dubious ][8] Wealthy land owners in rural areas countered with the argument Asians working on lower wages and conditions were necessary for development in tropical Queensland and the Northern Territory.[8] It was claimed that without Asian workers these regions would be abandoned.[dubious ][9] Under growing pressure from the union movement, each Australian colony enacted legislation between 1875-1888 excluding further Chinese immigration.[dubious ][9]

Post-war immigration[edit]

The government began to expand access to citizenship for non-Europeans in 1957 by allowing access to 15-year residents, and in 1958 by reforming entry permits via the Migration Act 1958. In March 1966, the immigration ministry began a policy of allowing the immigration of skilled and professional non-Europeans, and of expanding the availability of temporary residency to these groups. These cumulatively had the effect of increasing immigration numbers from non-European countries. In 1973 Whitlam took steps to bring about a more non-discriminatory immigration policy—temporarily bringing down overall immigration numbers. The eventual evolution of immigration policy has been along a trajectory of non-discrimination, dismantling European-only policies, and the broadening of pathways to citizenship for Asians.[10] During the Fraser government, with the increasing intake of Vietnamese refugees in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Australia experienced the largest intake of Asian immigrants since the arrival of the Chinese gold miners during the gold rush of the 1850s and 1860s.[citation needed] In 1983, the level of British immigration was below the level of Asian immigration for the first time in Australian history.[11]


Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese are the most commonly nominated Asian ancestries in Australia. Chinese Australians are 4 percent of the Australian population (2011) and Indian Australians are 2 percent of the Australian population (2011). 30% of Asians in Australia go to university, 20% of all Australian doctors are Asian, and 37% of Asian Australians take part in some form of organised sport.[dubious ][2] Second and third generation Chinese and Indian Australians are already present in large numbers.[2] Sydney and Melbourne have made up a large proportion of Asian immigration, with Chinese Australians constituting Sydney's fourth largest ancestry (after English, Australian and Irish). Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese-Australians are among Sydney's five largest overseas-born communities.[12]

Between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, the proportion of the Australian population born in Asia increased by one percentage point from 5 percent to 6 percent. Some suburbs have seen a sharper increase in Asian born population, where it increased by 10 percentage points.[13]

Metropolitan areas with high proportion of Australians of Asian ancestry (2011 Census):[14]
Metropolitan area Asian population (est.) Asian people as % of total population
Sydney, NSW 832,967 18.97
Melbourne, VIC 782,600 18.20
Canberra, ACT 40,576 11.38
Darwin, NT 12,649 10.49
Perth, WA 176,850 10.23
Brisbane, QLD 172,528 8.35
Adelaide, SA 99,467 8.12

Asian Australians by Greater Sydney region (2011 census):[14]

Region Asian population Asian people as % of total population
Parramatta 132,663 33.61
Ryde 52,975 32.53
South West 102,583 28.48
Inner South West 137,251 26.21
Blacktown 77,866 25.65
Inner West 65,922 25.01
City and Inner South 55,028 20.80
North Sydney and Hornsby 72,786 19.43
Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury 37,585 17.86
Eastern Suburbs 29,293 11.74
Outer South West 23,357 9.91
Northern Beaches 14,362 6.04
Outer West and Blue Mountains 15,127 5.25
Sutherland 9,712 4.62
Central Coast 6,459 2.07

Asian Australians by Melbourne region (2011 census):[14]

Region Asian population Asian people as % of total population
South East 169,302 25.73
Inner East 74,477 21.90
West 126,787 20.58
Inner Melbourne 73,188 14.58
North East 48,858 11.18
Outer West 49,335 10.30
Inner South 38,088 10.07
North West 38,088 9.74
Mornington Peninsula 7,884 2.91

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ The population of Christmas Islanders of full or partial Asian descent consists mainly of Australians of Malaysian descent particularly Malaysian Chinese and Malay descent but also some individuals of Malaysian Indian descent.[3][4]

See also[edit]

Asians in other countries[edit]

Cultural and social perceptions[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Land of many cultures, ancestries and faiths". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  2. ^ a b c Kennedy, Duncan (17 September 2012). "Young Asians making their mark on Australia". BBC News. Retrieved 29 October 2016. 
  3. ^ "Island induction - Christmas Island District High School". 
  4. ^ Simone Dennis (2008). Christmas Island: An Anthropological Study. Cambria Press. pp. 91–. ISBN 9781604975109. 
  5. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  6. ^ O'Brien, Antony (2005), Shenanigans on the Ovens Goldfields, Hartwell: Artillery Publishing, ISBN 0-9758013-0-9 
  7. ^ Cronin, Katherine (1982), Colonial Casualties: Chinese in Early Victoria, Carlton: Melbourne University Press, ISBN 0-522-84221-6 
  8. ^ a b Markey, Raymond (1 January 1996). "Race and organized labor in Australia, 1850–1901". Highbeam Research. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  9. ^ a b Griffiths, Phil (4 July 2002). "Towards White Australia: The shadow of Mill and the spectre of slavery in the 1880s debates on Chinese immigration" (RTF). 11th Biennial National Conference of the Australian Historical Association. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  10. ^ "Fact Sheet - 8. Abolition of the 'White Australia' Policy". Australian Department of Immigration. Archived from the original on 1 September 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  11. ^ Price, CA (September 1998). "POST-WAR IMMIGRATION: 1945-1998". Journal of the Australian Population Association. 15 (2): 17 pp. 
  12. ^ "2011 Census QuickStats: Greater Sydney". 
  13. ^ "Nocookies". The Australian. 
  14. ^ a b c "Community Profiles". 

External links[edit]