Turkish Australians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Turkish Australians
Avustralya'daki Türkler
Total population
  • 59,402 (2006 census)[1]
    150,000 Turkish Australians (1994 estimate by The Age[2])
    300,000 Turkish Australians (2003 estimate by the Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad[3])
    300,000 Turkish Australians in Melbourne alone (2013 estimate by Louise Asher[4])

    Total Turkish Australian population: over 320,000, including:

    Turkish Australians from Turkey: 200,000 (2017 estimate by TRT World[5])

    Turkish Australians from Cyprus: 120,000 (2016 estimate by Dr Vahdettin et al.[6])

    plus smaller Turkish Australians communities from Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Iraq and Syria
Regions with significant populations
Melbourne, Sydney, Wollongong
Turkish (including the Cypriot Turkish dialect) and Australian English
Predominantly Sunni Islam (including practising and non-practising)
Minority Alevism, other religions, or irreligious

Turkish Australians (Turkish: Türk Avustralyalılar) or Australian Turks (Turkish: Avustralyalı Türkler) are Turkish people who have immigrated to Australia. However, the term may also refer to Australian-born persons who have Turkish parents or who have a Turkish ancestral background.

Turks first began to emigrate to Australia from the island of Cyprus for work in the 1940s, and then again when Turkish Cypriots were forced to leave their homes during the Cyprus conflict between 1963 and 1974. Furthermore, many Turkish immigrants arrived in Australia after a bilateral agreement was signed between Turkey and Australia in 1967. Recently, smaller groups of Turks have begun to immigrate to Australia from Bulgaria, Greece, Iraq and the North Macedonia. There were also many Australians in Turkey during World War I (Gallipoli/ANZAC).


Ottoman migration[edit]

Earliest known short term Turkish migrants in Australia date back to 1860s to 1900 period when small groups of mainly Muslim cameleers were shipped in and out of Australia at three-year intervals, to service South Australia's inland pastoral industry by carting goods and transporting wool bales by camel trains, who were commonly referred to as "Afghans" or "Ghans", despite their origin often being mainly from British India, and some even from Afghanistan and Egypt and Turkey.[7]

The presence of Turkish people in Australia dates back to the early 19th century, although at the time there were only about 20 Turkish settlers. Their number increased to 300 by the 1911 census. Their number declined during the First World War when Australia and Turkey fought on opposite sides.[8]

Turkish Cypriot migration[edit]

Turkish Cypriot community in Victoria

A notable scale of Turkish Cypriot migration to Australia began in the late 1940s;[9] they were the only Muslims acceptable under the White Australia Policy.[10] Prior to 1940, the Australian Census recorded only three settlers from Cyprus that spoke Turkish as their primary language. A further 66 Turkish Cypriots arrived in Australia in the late 1940s, marking the beginning of a Turkish Cypriot immigration trend to Australia.[9] By 1947-1956 there were 350 Turkish Cypriot settlers who were living in Australia.[11]

Between 1955–1960, the island of Cyprus' independence was approaching; however, Turkish Cypriots felt vulnerable as they had cause for concern about the political future of the island when the Greek Cypriots attempted to overthrow the British government and unite Cyprus with Greece (known as "enosis").[11] After a failed attempt by the Greek Cypriots, the right-wing party, EOKA, reformed itself from 1963–1974 and launched a series of attacks in a bid to proclaim "enosis". These atrocities resulted in the exodus of Turkish Cypriots in fear for their lives, many migrating to Australia and Britain.[11] Early Turkish Cypriot immigrants found jobs working in factories, out in the fields, or building national infrastructure.[12] However, some Turkish Cypriots became entrepreneurs and established their own businesses once they had saved enough money.[12]

Once the Greek military junta rose to power in 1967, they staged a coup d'état in 1974 against the Cypriot President, with the help of EOKA B, to unite the island of Cyprus with Greece.[13][better source needed] Thus, there was an exodus of more Turkish Cypriots to Australia due to fears that the island would unite with Greece.[11] The Greek coup led to a military invasion by Turkey which divided the island.[13][better source needed] In 1983 the Turkish Cypriots declared their own state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which has remained internationally unrecognised except by Turkey.[14] The division has led to an economic embargo against the Turkish Cypriots by the United States and Greek Cypriot controlled Government of Cyprus,[14][15][16] effectively depriving the Turkish Cypriots of foreign investment, aid and export markets.[14] Thus, the Turkish Cypriot economy has remained stagnant and undeveloped; Turkish Cypriots have continued to leave the island in search of a better life in Britain, Australia, and Canada.[14]

Mainland Turkish migration[edit]

On 5 October 1967, the governments of Australia and Turkey signed an agreement to allow Turkish citizens to immigrate to Australia.[17] Prior to this recruitment agreement, there were less than 3,000 people of Turkish origin in Australia.[18] According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nearly 19,000 Turkish immigrants arrived from 1968–1974.[17] The first Turkish immigrants were greeted at Sydney International Airport by Turkish Cypriots, whilst Turkish immigrants who moved to Melbourne were greeted at Essendon Airport by members of the Cyprus Turkish Association.[12] They came largely from rural areas of Turkey; at the time, approximately 30% were skilled and 70% were unskilled workers.[19] However, this changed in the 1980s when the number of skilled Turks applying to enter Australia had increased considerably.[19] Over the next 35 years the Turkish population rose to almost 100,000.[18] More than half of the Turkish community settled in Victoria, mostly in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne.[18]

Migration from other countries[edit]

There are also ethnic Turks who have immigrated to Australia from Bulgaria, the Western Thrace area of northern Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, as well as Germany and other Western European countries.[20]


People with Turkish ancestry as a percentage of the population in Sydney divided geographically by postal area, as of the 2011 census


Although the 2006 Australian Census shows 59,402 people in Australia who claimed to be of Turkish ancestry,[1] this is not a true representation of the entire community. Indeed, as early as 1994, The Age estimated that the Turkish Australian population was 150,000.[2] By 2013 Louise Asher, who was a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, said that the Turkish Australian community in Melbourne alone had numbered 300,000.[4] More recently, the number of Turkish Australians who originate from Turkey reached 200,000 in 2017;[5] meanwhile the Turkish Cypriot Australian community was estimated to number 120,000 in 2016.[6]

Number of ethnic Turks in Australia according to the 2006 Australian Census[21]
Country of birth ethnic Turks Turkish spoken at home
 Turkey[22] 24,770 24,852
 Northern Cyprus[23] 3,290[a] 3,345
 Bulgaria[24] 270 263
 Greece[21] N/A 313
 Macedonia[21] N/A 125
Including ancestry 59,402[1] 53,866[25]

Turkish Cypriot population[edit]

In 1993 a publication from the Council of Europe reported that 30,000 Turkish Cypriot immigrants were living in Australia.[26] By 2001 the TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed to represent 40,000 Turkish Cypriots (i.e. TRNC citizens only) living in Australia.[27] More recently, in 2016, Dr Levent Vahdettin et al. said that the total Turkish Cypriot Australian community was 120,000 - including descendants.[6]

Mainland Turkish population[edit]

In 1999, Rob White et al. said that there was 75,000 people who were Turkish-born or had a Turkish immigrant background in Australia.[28] By 2011 Dr Liza Hopkins said that within 35 years, between 1967 and 2002, the Turkish-immigrant community and their descendants had risen to 100,000.[18] More recently, the Turkish origin population in Australia (i.e. excluding Turkish Cypriots etc.) was 200,000 in 2017.[5]

Other Turkish populations[edit]

There are smaller populations of Turkish ancestry who have immigrated to Australia from Bulgaria, the Western Thrace area of northern Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, as well as some who had migrated via Germany and other Western European countries.[20]


Turkish Australians mainly live in New South Wales and Victoria, especially in the cities of Melbourne and Sydney. In Melbourne they reside largely in the suburbs of Broadmeadows, Meadow Heights, Collingwood, Brunswick, Coburg, Fitzroy, Richmond, Springvale and Dandenong.[19] In Sydney, they are concentrated in Auburn, Guildford, Botany, Fairfield, Marrickville, Blacktown, Liverpool, Prestons and Ashfield.[19]


Community bonds remain strong in the Turkish Australian community. They are geographically concentrated in particular areas of Australia which has led to the maintenance of certain cultural traditions across generations.[29] The Turkish language and a "moderate" Islam are symbolic markers of the Turkish Australian culture.[30] More generally, notions of family loyalty, the social organisation of marriage and traditional segregation of gender roles have shaped the youths' identities in Australia.[30]

The Auburn Gallipoli Mosque is named after the legacy of the Gallipoli Campaign and the shared bond between Australians and Turks.
The Sunshine Mosque was built by the Cyprus Turkish Islamic Society in 1992.


Turkish Cypriots are considered to be the first immigrants in Australia who formed a large Muslim community, followed by immigrants from Turkey and then Lebanon.[31] According to the 2006 Australian census, 18% of Australian Muslims are of Turkish origin.[32] Turkish Australian Muslims practice a "moderate Islam" and are significantly secularised;[33] Turkish Cypriots in particular are not so religious and are brought up as Kemalists and are strongly secular.[34]

The Turkish Australian community favours religious sermons in the Turkish language (rather than in Arabic) and attends Friday prayers in Turkish mosques.[35] There are numerous notable Turkish mosques in Australia; in 1992, the Cyprus Turkish Islamic Society constructed an Ottoman-style mosque, known as the Sunshine Mosque, which was designed to mirror the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul.[36] Another important Turkish mosque is the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque,[37] which attracts about 800 worshippers every week and is listed as an Australian heritage building.[38] Thomastown Mosque was built (early 1990s) by the Thomastown Turkish Islamic Society.[39]

According to the 2016 Census, a majority (67.1%) of the Turkey-born population in Victoria was Muslim.[40] Approximately 16.4% of the Turks were not religious, while the largest Christian denominations were the Oriental Orthodox Churches (2.4%), Eastern Orthodox Churches (2.0%), the Catholic Church (1.2%) and other churches (1.6%). The rest of the population belong to other religions or did not state their religious affiliation.


The Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial commissioned by the Turkish Sub-branch of the Victorian RSL honours WWI fallen soldiers and is a tribute to Australian-Turkish relations

The Turkish language is well maintained in Australia and is seen as very important for the self-identification of Turkish Australians.[30] There are numerous Turkish private schools, including Ilim College, Irfan College, Sirius (previously known as Isik) College, Damla College and Burc College that cater for Turkish Australian students.[41]



There are several Turkish language newspapers produced in Australia and generally available free of charge, including Turkish News Press, Anadolu, Yeni Vatan, Dünya, Camia, Zaman, and the Australian Turkish News Weekly.[42]


The Australian Voice of Turkey currently broadcasts 7 days a week through the digital station 2TripleO which is based in Burwood in Sydney. Also, in Sydney and Melbourne SBS Radio broadcasts in the Turkish language for an hour a day.[42] Other community stations also broadcast in Turkish, though with less hours of content. For example, 3ZZZ currently produces five hours of Turkish programming spread over four days each week.[42]


Turkish satellite television services are available in Australia. The Australian satellite service provider UBI World TV claims to reach 40,000 Turkish speakers.[43] Furthermore, BRT, the official radio and television broadcasting corporation of Northern Cyprus, claims to reach 60,000 Turkish Cypriot Australians.[44]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Australian Bureau of Statistics. "20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex - Australia". Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Gallipoli Turkish Premiere to Aid Peninsula Restoration". The Age. 1994. p. 28. Retrieved 14 November 2020. There are now about 150,000 Turkish-Australians.
  3. ^ "Erdoğan Malezya'yı örnek alıp IMF ile ilişkileri kesecek". 2003. Retrieved 14 November 2020. Muhammed'in, Avustralya'da 300 bin Türk yaşadığını ve bu insanların Türkiye'ye giderken Malezya güzergahını kullanabileceklerini söylediği belirtildi.
  4. ^ a b "Avustralya'dan THY'ye çağrı var". Milliyet. 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2020. Asher, Türkiye’ye geniş bir Avusturalyalı heyetle geldiklerini, İstanbul’u 60 Avusturalyalı şirketle ziyaret ettiklerini ve birçok açıdan Türkiye’nin dinamik ekonomisini çok etkileyici bulduklarını anlattı. Melbourne’de yaklaşık 300 bin Türk’ün yaşadığını...
  5. ^ a b c cite web|last=Lennie|first=Soraya|year=2017|title=Turkish diaspora in Australia vote in referendum|url=https://www.trtworld.com/turkey/turkish-diaspora-in-australia-vote-in-referendum-327290%7Cpublisher=TRT World|quote=An estimated 200,000 Turks live in Australia with most of them based in Melbourne's northern suburbs.|page=28|accessdate=14 November 2020}}
  6. ^ a b c Vahdettin, Levent; Aksoy, Seçil; Öz, Ulaş; Orhan, Kaan (2016), Three-dimensional cephalometric norms of Turkish Cypriots using CBCT images reconstructed from a volumetric rendering program in vivo, Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, Recent estimates suggest that there are now 500,000 Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey, 300,000 in the United Kingdom, 120,000 in Australia, 5000 in the United States, 2000 in Germany, 1800 in Canada, and 1600 in New Zealand with a smaller community in South Africa.
  7. ^ australia.gov.au > About Australia > Australian Stories > Afghan cameleers in Australia Archived 5 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 8 May 2014.
  8. ^ Babacan 2001, 709.
  9. ^ a b Hüssein 2007, 17
  10. ^ Cleland 2001, 24
  11. ^ a b c d Hüssein 2007, 18
  12. ^ a b c Hüssein 2007, 19
  13. ^ a b Country Studies. "The Greek Coup and the Turkish Invasion". Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  14. ^ a b c d Papadakis, Peristianis & Welz 2006, 94.
  15. ^ US House asks for report on Cyprus's defence capabilities, Cyprus Mail, 20 May 2015.
  16. ^ 57 FR 60265 - Department of State Denial Notice
  17. ^ a b Hüssein 2007, 196
  18. ^ a b c d Hopkins 2011, 116
  19. ^ a b c d Saeed 2003, 9
  20. ^ a b Inglis, Akgönül & de Tapia 2009, 108.
  21. ^ a b c Australian Bureau of Statistics. "2006 Census Ethnic Media Package". Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  22. ^ Department of Immigration and Citizenship (2006). "Community Information Summary:Turkey" (PDF). Australian Government. p. 2.
  23. ^ Department of Immigration and Citizenship (2006). "Community Information Summary:Cyprus" (PDF). Australian Government. p. 2.
  24. ^ Department of Immigration and Citizenship (2006). "Community Information Summary:Bulgaria" (PDF). Australian Government. p. 2.
  25. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics. "20680-Language Spoken at Home by Sex - Australia". Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  26. ^ European Population Conference: Proceedings, Geneva, 2, Council of Europe, 1993, ISBN 9789287125514, The number of Turkish Cypriots now living in Turkey is about 300 000 while the number of those who have settled in England is 100 000. There are also approximately 30 000 Turkish Cypriots living in Australia and about 6 000 in Canada and the U.S.A.
  27. ^ TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Briefing Notes on the Cyprus Issue". Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  28. ^ White, Rob; Perrone, Santina; Guerra, Carmel; Lampugnani, Rosario (1999), Ethnic Youth Gangs in Australia Do They Exist?: Report No. 2 Turkish Young People (PDF), Australian Multicultural Foundation, p. 17
  29. ^ Windle 2009, 175.
  30. ^ a b c Zevallos 2008, 24
  31. ^ Humphrey 2001, 36.
  32. ^ Humphrey 2009, 146.
  33. ^ Humphrey 2009, 148.
  34. ^ Ali & Sonn 2010, 425.
  35. ^ Akbarzadeh 2001, 232.
  36. ^ Hüssein 2007, 295.
  37. ^ Inglis 2008, 522.
  38. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald (24 April 2010). "Turkish mosque joins honour roll of Australian heritage buildings". Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  39. ^ Kabir 2004, pp. 189–192.
  40. ^ Table 13: Religious Affiliation (Top Twenty), Turkey-born and the Total Victorian Population: 2016, 2011
  41. ^ Windle 2009, 182.
  42. ^ a b c Hopkins 2009, 234
  43. ^ Hopkins 2009, 238
  44. ^ BRT. "AVUSTURALYA'DA KIBRS TÜRKÜNÜN SESİ". Retrieved 18 July 2011.


^ a: The 2006 census recorded a further 4,120 "Cypriots"; however, it is unclear whether these include Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots.


External links[edit]