Australia’s changing cultural diversity – top 10 places of origin for people born overseas

Australia’s changing cultural diversity – top 10 places of origin for people born overseas

Georgia Allan 28 Jun, 2017

Birthplace has probably been the most discussed topic in the office since the Census data was released. It’s one of the topics where we see the most change, and its a great reflection of Australia’s past, present and future.

More people born overseas

2016 Census data shows that 26.4% of people living in Australia were born overseas. This is an increase from 24.6% in 2011, an additional 870,263 people.

The top 10 birthplaces of people born overseas have changed a bit since 2011 – Germany has dropped out of the list, replaced by Sri Lanka, and Italy has fallen behind Philippines and Vietnam. The United Kingdom has decreased but still maintains its number one position.

Top 10 birthplaces of people born overseas, 2016

  Birthplace Percentage of population
1. United Kingdom 4.6%
2. New Zealand 2.2%
3. China 2.2%
4. India 1.9%
5. Philippines 1.0%
6. Vietnam 0.9%
7. Italy 0.7%
8. South Africa 0.7%
9. Malaysia 0.6%
10. Sri Lanka 0.5%

Top 10 birthplaces for people born overseas, 2011 and 2016


Emerging birthplace communities

So which birthplace communities are emerging in Australia? There are two ways to look at this – places with the biggest number increase and percentage increase. By number, the top 10 increases were in:

Top 10 emerging overseas birthplaces, 2016

  Birthplace Population change
1. China +190,586
2. India +160,027
3. Philippines +61,153
4. New Zealand +35,068
5. Vietnam +34,316
6. Pakistan +31,692
7. Nepal +30,119
8. South Korea +24,238
9. Iran +23,658
10. Sri Lanka +23,437

At the top of the leaderboard, China and India are the largest emerging birthplace communities. The majority of these ’emerging’ communities are already quite large and prominent within Australia. Looking at percentage increase helps to identify smaller communities that are increasing in prominence. This reveals an interesting mix of places:

Top 10 emerging overseas birthplaces, 2016

  Birthplace Percentage change
1. Mongolia +240.5%
2. Bhutan +142.4%
3. Nepal +122.3%
4. South Sudan +120.9%
5. Pakistan +104.9%
6. Brazil +90.4%
7. Nigeria +87.8%
8. Qatar 84.3%
9. Syria +82.6%
10. Iran +68.7%

Interestingly, many of these birthplaces are represented on the list of countries from which Australia has accepted refugees over the past few years. Not a lot is known about these communities due to their newness and rapid change. Stay tuned as we get further data that will assist us in profiling these specific communities.

Have you noticed an emerging birthplace community in the data for your local area? If you have questions about the cultural diversity of your local area, get in touch with our team of demographers who can help you understand your area.

.id is a team of population experts who combine online tools and consulting services to help local governments and organisations decide where and when to locate their facilities and services, to meet the needs of changing populations. 

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Georgia Allan

Georgia completed a Masters in Population Studies and Demography at Flinders University in Adelaide. At .id, Georgia is a consultant in .id's housing team. She was heavily involved in the creation and continued development of, the online tool developed to give councils an accessible evidence base for planning and advocacy. Georgia has prepared housing demand and supply analysis for a range of councils, including those in inner-city, middle ring, growth and peri-urban areas. When not in the office, she is likely to be cooking, knitting, crocheting, or buried in a good book.

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