Immigration in the last 5 years – focus on South Australia

Immigration in the last 5 years – focus on South Australia

The next article in our migration series looks at South Australia. Not traditionally a migrant destination, SA is becoming more diverse.  This series of articles analyses the data available on the Department of Immigratio n and Citizenship website, to look at likely changes in the makeup of the population which we will see when the Census results are out next year. Local area information is  available, which is very important for planning service delivery.


South Australia was the nation’s 4th most populous state until 1982 when it was overtaken by rapidly growing Western Australia. The population in June 2011 was 1,657,000 and the growth rate for SA in 2010-11 was 0.8%, lower than any other state except Tasmania. Nevertheless, SA has shared in Australia’s large overseas migration over the last 5 years, adding just under 57,000 permanent settler arrivals since the 2006 Census.

South Australia takes a relatively large share of its migrants from the Humanitarian stream, but this was still only 14% of the total (8% nationally).  There is also a large share from the skilled migration stream (64%).

The makeup of the migrant population in South Australia is similar to the national average, but with a few key differences. The UK is the number 1 group, but not quite to the extent that it is in WA. There were 9,800 UK migrants into SA between 2006 and 2011, adding to the 8% of SA’s population in 2006 who were born there. This made up 17.3% of all migrants. The next two largest migrant countries were, similar to the eastern states, India (8,600 – 15.3%) and China (7,250 – 12.9%). Nationally, the UK, India and China make up the lions share of migrants (41%) and SA is no exception (45%).

The next largest group was from the Philippines (2,800), but in percentage terms around the Australian average. Number 5 was Afghanistan, reflecting the large humanitarian intake into SA. The state had 2,250 Afghani settlers in 5 years, 18% of the national total and close to the number settling in NSW. As there were only 1,390 people from Afghanistan counted in SA in the 2006 Census, this is likely to represent about a 150% increase over 5 years. The largest numbers have settled in Port Adelaide-Enfield and Salisbury.

Then comes South Africa, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam and Iran, all at levels close to the Australian average.

The 13th largest migrant group into South Australia is Bhutan. I commented on this country in the national figures, how it is likely to show the largest percentage increase of any country of birth nationally in 2011. Well a lot of Bhutani migrants settled South Australia – 690 in total, 34% of the national total, and more than any other state.  Like the Afghani population, they have settled in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, particularly in Salisbury.

Other countries with a relatively high share of national migration going into South Australia are Democratic Republic of the Congo (26%), Liberia (21%), Burundi (27%) and Tanzania (20%). Note that these are all African countries and primarily consist of humanitarian migrants. Though SA has a large percentage of national migration, the absolute numbers are fairly small (e.g. 234 people from Tanzania settled in SA).

Compared to the national picture, SA gets a particularly small share of migrants from Sri Lanka (3%), Thailand (4%), Iraq (3%), Singapore (4%) and Indonesia (2%).

So what are the main areas of migrant settlers in South Australia? The vast majority of new migrants settle in metropolitan Adelaide, and the bulk of migration is into two corridors of northern and southern Adelaide.

  1. The City of Port Adelaide-Enfield (7,035) – Along with Salisbury, this area took the largest share of migrants into SA. By far the largest number was from India (1,750 – 24.9%), followed by China (780), Afghanistan (670) and the Philippines (490). Unfortunately this highly diverse area doesn’t have so details of the existing makeup of the population are not available.
  2. The City of Salisbury (5,489) – Part of the same region as Port Adelaide-Enfield, in the diverse northern suburbs of Adelaide. In 2006, 25.7% of the population were born overseas – UK was dominant, making up almost 10%, but only a handful of UK arrivals since 2006 the makeup is changing. Since 2006 the largest arrival groups are India (720), Afghanistan (550 – a huge increase given there were only 140 people from Afghanistan there in 2006), China (530), Philippines (480) and Bhutan (340). Half the Bhutani migrants into SA and about 15% of the national total have settled in Salisbury.
  3. The City of Charles Sturt (4,231) – Also part of the northern Adelaide corridor, and also unfortunately lacking a community profile. The largest groups to settle in Charles Sturt are from India (1,030), UK (650), China (390), and Afghanistan (215). There are also smaller numbers from many humanitarian arrival groups like Liberia, Sudan, Kenya and Burma.
  4. The City of Onkaparinga (4,004) – This remains the hotspot for UK migration – they made up 12.6% of the total population in 2006, and another 2,560 have arrived since – in fact that’s more than a quarter of SA migration from the UK into one LGA. The next largest groups are very small in comparison, South Africa (240) and China (180).
  5. The City of West Torrens (3,281) – A fairly diverse and changing area of inner western Adelaide, this LGA already had 20% of population from a non-English speaking background in 2006. Large older Greek and Italian communities are being replaced by new arrivals. Arrivals since 2006 include India (890), China (700), Philippines (170), Malaysia (120), the UK (120) and Afghanistan (110). Some other small humanitarian arrival groups here as well.

Other fairly large numbers went into Marion (2,841 – UK, China, India), Campbelltown (2,655 – China, India, Korea) and Mitcham (2,045 – China, UK, India).

Very few regional parts of SA had significant overseas migration. The two largest regional centres, Whyalla and Mount Gambier, are the notable exceptions

Whyalla had 437 arrivals, almost all skilled migration, presumably associated with Iron Ore mining. Whyalla’s population, in decline for many years, recently increased due to the mining boom. The main countries of arrival here are South Africa (140), Philippines (110) and India (75). Similar migration from South Africa and Zimbabwe can be seen in the small, remote mining settlement of Roxby Downs, which recently subscribed to to help them understand what is likely to be a rapidly changing population when the Census data come out.

Mount Gambier, on the other hand, has taken a large number of humanitarian migrants, with a different makeup from most of SA –  Burma (130), Thailand (80), Phillippines (40) and DR Congo (30). They have also just added, so will be able to see the changing makeup of the population after the 2011 data comes out.

You can view comprehensive community profiles of these areas on our website.

Once the 2011 Census data is released councils with will get information on all these migrant communities at the local suburb level, and will be able to access information on population change back to 1991, and the full list of over 100 countries of birth for their areas. It will also reveal whether most migrants stay where they initially settle or move substantially into new areas.

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Glenn - The Census Expert

Glenn is our resident Census expert. After ten years working at the ABS, Glenn's deep knowledge of the Census has been a crucial input in the development of our community profiles. These tools help everyday people uncover the rich and important stories about our communities that are often hidden deep in the Census data. Glenn is also our most prolific blogger - if you're reading this, you've just finished reading one of his blogs. Take a quick look at the front page of our blog and you'll no doubt find more of Glenn's latest work. As a client manager, Glenn travels the country giving sought-after briefings to councils and communities (these are also great opportunities for Glenn to tend to his rankings in Geolocation games such as Munzee and Geocaching).

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