Diversity of birthplace

The term Indigenous is a term that has evolved through international law to acknowledge the particular relationship of the original inhabitants of a country or geographical region to their lands. In Australia, the term Indigenous refers to people who are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. The Indigenous community of Australia is diverse and comprised of a wide range of cultural groups speaking many different languages.

The following data is derived from the 2016 Census:

  • About 649,200 people or 3% of the Australian population identified as being of Indigenous origin. Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, the Indigenous population increased by 18% or 100,800 people.
  • Of this group, 590,100 people (91%) stated they were of Aboriginal origin only and 32,300 people (5%) reported to be of Torres Strait Islander origin only. 26,800 people (4%) reported to be of both origins.
  • The States/Territories with the highest Indigenous populations are New South Wales (216,200 or 33% of the total Indigenous population of Australia), Queensland (186,500 or 29%), Western Australia (76,000 or 12%) and the Northern Territory (58,200 or 9%).
  • Around 25% of people in the Northern Territory are of Indigenous origin. In all other States/Territories [3] , Indigenous Australians comprise less than 5% of total state populations.
  • Most Torres Strait Islander people (62%) live in Queensland while 15% live in New South Wales and 6% live in the Victoria.
Table 1: People of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin 2016
State/TerritoryAboriginalTorres Strait IslanderBoth Aboriginal and Torres Strait IslanderProportion of total population
New South Wales207,2564,8394,0802.9
Victoria44,5922,0241,1710.8
Queensland148,94321,05316,4934.0
South Australia32,6169386292.0
Western Australia72,9241,4341,6283.1
Tasmania21,5701,1192,88894.6
Northern Territory55,8057441,69925.5
Australian Capital Territory6,1401831831.6
Other Territories2151335.0
Australia590,05632,34526,767

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Customised tables

The birthplace of overseas-born residents gives some indication of the diversity of ethnicity of a population. When Australian born residents with one or both parents born overseas are combined with overseas born a fuller picture of cultural diversity emerges. The following data is derived from the 2016 Census:
  • Around 26% of Australians were born overseas and 67% were born in Australia. [4]
  • Around 19% of people were born in non-English speaking countries compared to 8% who were born in English speaking countries [5] other than Australia.
  • The largest overseas born group comprised people born in the United Kingdom [6] (1,087,800 people or 5% of the population) followed by New Zealand (518,500 people or 2%), then China [7] (509,600 people or 2%) and India (455,400 people or 2%). No other individual country accounted for more than 1%.
  • The State with the largest number of overseas born people was New South Wales (2,072,500 people) followed by Victoria (1,680,300 people) and Queensland (1,015,900 people). Western Australia had the highest proportion of overseas born residents (32%) excluding Other Territories [8] which also reported 32% in 2016.
Table 2: Top 30 birthplaces of the Australian population 2016
CountryPersons% Total population
Australia15,614,83566.72
England907,5703.88
New Zealand518,4662.22
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)509,5552.18
India455,3891.95
Philippines232,3860.99
Vietnam219,3550.94
Italy174,0420.74
South Africa162,4490.69
Malaysia138,3640.59
Scotland119,4170.51
Sri Lanka109,8490.47
Germany102,5950.44
Korea, Republic of (South)98,7760.42
Greece93,7430.40
Hong Kong (SAR of China)86,8860.37
United States of America86,1250.37
Lebanon78,6530.34
Ireland74,8880.32
Indonesia73,2130.31
Netherlands70,1720.30
Iraq67,3520.29
Thailand66,2290.28
Pakistan61,9130.26
Fiji61,4690.26
Iran58,1120.25
Singapore54,9390.23
Nepal54,7540.23
Taiwan46,8220.20
Afghanistan46,7990.20

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Customised tables

Table 3: Top 10 countries of birth outside Australia 2016 by State and Territory
New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryOther Territories
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)EnglandNew ZealandEnglandEnglandEnglandPhilippinesEnglandMalaysia
EnglandIndiaEnglandIndiaNew ZealandNew ZealandEnglandChina (excludes SARs and Taiwan)Norfolk Island
IndiaChina (excludes SARs and Taiwan)IndiaChina (excludes SARs and Taiwan)IndiaChina (excludes SARs and Taiwan)New ZealandIndiaNew Zealand
New ZealandNew ZealandChina (excludes SARs and Taiwan)ItalySouth AfricaScotlandIndiaNew ZealandEngland
PhilippinesVietnamSouth AfricaVietnamPhilippinesNetherlandsGreecePhilippinesPhilippines
VietnamItalyPhilippinesNew ZealandMalaysiaGermanyUnited States of AmericaVietnamFiji
LebanonSri LankaScotlandPhilippinesChina (excludes SARs and Taiwan)IndiaChina (excludes SARs and Taiwan)United States of AmericaSingapore
Korea, Republic of (South)PhilippinesGermanyScotlandScotlandUnited States of AmericaNepalSri LankaSouth Africa
ItalyMalaysiaVietnamGermanyItalyPhilippinesIndonesiaMalaysiaVietnam
South AfricaGreeceKorea, Republic of (South)GreeceIrelandSouth AfricaIrelandKorea, Republic of (South)Iran

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Customised tables

Ancestry

A person’s ancestry, when used in conjunction with the person’s birthplace, language, religion and birthplace of their parents, provides a good indication of their ethnic background. This is particularly useful for identifying distinct cultural groups such as Maoris and South Sea Islanders and groups which are spread across countries such as Kurds or Indians. In the 2016 Census, respondents were asked to mark their ancestries back as far as two generations. Respondents were asked to report at least one ancestry, but no more than two. The following data is derived from the 2016 Census:
  • About 47% of respondents indicated that both parents were born in Australia.
  • About 45% of respondents indicated that at least one of their parents was born overseas.
  • About 22% of first responses to the ancestry question indicated that they were of Australian ancestry.
  • The most common first response ancestries other than Australian identified by respondents were English, Irish, Chinese, Scottish, Italian, and Indian. Other common ancestries identified were German, Greek, Vietnamese, Filipino and Lebanese.
Table 4: Ancestry by birthplace of parents 2016
Ancestry (1st Response)Both parents born overseasFather only born overseasMother only born overseasBoth parents born in AustraliaNot stated – birthplace for either or both parents not statedTotal
English1,689,319681,705511,5934,813,438115,7987,811,847
Australian134,334348,442280,3163,986,49783,5044,833,103
Irish214,98587,63158,477866,11116,3551,243,570
Chinese1,058,16613,58421,51524,1238,5351,125,918
Scottish213,95090,83166,094511,05011,796893,721
Italian403,97883,20034,910228,7819,695760,557
Indian536,2542,5702,4501,5803,266546,125
German170,29834,38823,919209,2926,251444,152
Greek207,29722,65311,76251,8763,563297,145
Vietnamese245,0561,5732,2911,2882,877253,086
Filipino231,1031,2542,9229302,747238,960
Lebanese136,57019,2989,15315,2712,091182,375
Dutch120,5978,3855,17715,1601,512150,826
Korean111,113404601994563113,672
Polish84,2124,1593,0138,443995100,818
Maltese69,8286,6683,98314,5451,07696,085
Sri Lankan90,07082359359054992,621
Australian Aboriginal4881,59665286,6671,53390,939
Croatian71,6224,8212,8068,22296988,434
Macedonian64,0324,9192,9006,97780479,642
New Zealander66,1902,6111,8731,35294272,966
South African68,45499773249345071,125
Maori56,8892,1081,5631,0261,25762,842
Turkish51,8373,6732,1902,17958360,459
Nepalese58,84666853734859,381
Spanish52,9051,6821,2392,84364859,311
Serbian51,3272,4571,5912,22471758,313
Pakistani55,37751731312329956,627
Other1,648,44743,55830,73681,10720,6941,824,593
Not stated87,60811,5529,157127,2721,397,0871,632,683

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Customised tables

The information in this section is derived from the Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs – Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian programme.

Refugees and people seeking residency in Australia for humanitarian reasons make up an important and sizeable component of the overall migrant intake. The Humanitarian Programme, a component of Australia’s immigration program, assists people affected by international humanitarian crises including refugees and other people suffering human rights violations. Since World War II, over 740,000 refugees and people in humanitarian need have been resettled in Australia including people from Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Africa.

According to Humanitarian Programme statistics for 2015-16 [9]:

  • 17,555 visas were granted, significantly lower than 2006 with 14,144.
  • Of these, 15,552 visas were granted to persons overseas and 2,003 visas were granted to people in Australia.
  • 28.02% of visas were granted to people from Iraq, 27.3% were granted to people from Syria, 29% were granted to people from Asia and the Middle East 11% were granted to people from Africa and 4.68% were granted to people from the rest of the world. A small number of visas were also granted to people from Europe and the Americas.

Offshore resettlement programme,
grants by region of birth 2015-2016
CountriesNumber of visas granted
Africa1,665
Middle East10,569
Asia3,308
Other10
Total15,552

Humanitarian programme grants by category: 2011/12 to 2015/16

Humanitarian programme grants by category 2011/12 - 2015/16

Offshore visa grants by top ten countries of birth 2015-16

2015–16 Offshore visa grants by top 10 countries of birth