In Australia today, about 28 percent of people were born overseas, and almost half have overseas-born parents, but in some places the percentage is much higher.
Census 2021 results released this year showed more than a million new migrants had been admitted to Australia since 2017, with around 220,000 coming from India – the biggest rise in birth numbers outside of Australia.
India has now overtaken China and New Zealand to become the third largest country of birth after Australia and England.
Search the map below to see the most popular countries of birth in your suburb (excluding Australia), and read on to explore your region by language and religion.
When it comes to the number of different nationalities, the suburbs of Melbourne Point Cook tops the list as the most multicultural, recording people born in 146 different countries. It is followed by the city suburb of Melbourne (137 countries), as well as a suburb of Sydney Blacktown and Maroubra (133 countries).
Many residents of Sydney would not be surprised that in the center of the city there is a suburb of Hay market – known for being home to the city’s Chinatown and home to a large number of university students – has the highest proportion of foreign-born people among areas with more than 1,000 inhabitants. About 78 percent of Haymarket residents were born abroad and come from a variety of countries, including 21 percent from China, 17 percent from Thailand, 11 percent from Indonesia, and three percent each from Malaysia and Korea.
In contrast, areas with the lowest proportion of foreign-born people (areas with a population of more than 1,000) include Aboriginal communities Cherbourg and Jaraba in Queensland, and Milingimby in the Northern Territory.
It should be noted that the exclusion of people born in Australia does not account for the 812,728 people (or 3.2 per cent of the Australian population) who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
When it comes to language, there are more than 350 different languages spoken in Australia, including 167 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages as identified by the census, some of which are shown on the map below.
The number of people who speak a language other than English at home has increased by almost 800,000 since 2016 to more than 5.5 million. About 850,000 people in Australia say they have little or no English.
Search the map below to see which languages are most commonly spoken in your suburb.
Tangerine is still the most common language other than English used at home in Australia, with almost 700,000 people speaking it. Follow this Arabic with just over 367,000 speakers.
Punjabithe language spoken in India and Pakistan has seen the biggest growth, with more than 239,000 people now speaking Punjabi at home, an 80 percent increase since 2016.
The latest census was also interesting on religion, finding that 38.9% of people in Australia now report having “there is no religion(up from 30.1 percent in 2016), while 43.9 percent listed their religion as Christianity (in 2016 — 52.1 percent), in second place Islam by 3.2 percent, Hinduism by 2.7 percent and buddhism by 2.4 percent.
Almost all of Australia’s 10 most religious suburbs are in outlying areas or parts of Western Sydney with higher than average migrant populations.
Search the map below to see which religions are most followed in your suburb.
Island v Halivinka, off the coast of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, tops the list of most religious, with 90 percent of people saying they are religious. A Methodist mission was founded in the area in 1942, about 47 percent now follow the Uniting Church, but a large proportion (26 percent) say they follow traditional Aboriginal beliefs.
Many Western Sydney suburbs also show a strong commitment to faith, including Bungaribiwhere 34 percent profess Hinduism, Elizabeth Hills (44 percent Catholics), Mount Lewis (40 percent Catholic), Giravin (52 percent Hindu), Abbotsbury (53 percent Catholics), Mount Vernon (58% Catholic) and Carnes Hill (37% of Catholics). All of these suburbs, with the exception of Mount Vernon, have a foreign-born population above the Australian average (27.6 per cent).
The suburb of North Melbourne is also on the list Roxburgh Park, where 34 percent follow Islam; and Vurumiyangaan Aboriginal community in the Tiwi Islands, the site of a former Catholic mission, where 82 percent of the people still identify as Catholic.
Diversity in “Communities”
U Harris Park, the Australian suburb with the second-highest percentage of people born overseas, the Indian-origin community now makes up 45 percent of the population, with 47 percent also saying they follow the Hindu religion. A total of 75 percent of residents were born abroad.
But even though many residents were born in India, there is still a lot of diversity in the community, with residents speaking a wide variety of Indian languages: 15 percent speak Gujarati12 percent speak Hindi; and Punjabi, Nepali and Telugu speakers are about 6 percent each.
Demographer Dr Liz Allen of the Australian National University says the diversity of languages shows that communities that some might think of as one group can be very diverse.
“What’s so interesting about the diversity we see in some places, particularly in western Sydney, is that even people from a certain country or a certain region are different from each other.”
“So there is diversity, even among populations that may look very similar on the surface, there are quite a few differences.”
Dr. Allen says it’s also worth noting that some people may say they follow or identify with a particular religion, but in reality they may not.
“In many cases, what we quote in the religion question on the census may or may not reflect our upbringing.
“Where our religion is closely tied to our culture, we may feel more compelled to say we are a certain religion if we don’t practice it.”
Where our religion is closely tied to our culture, we may feel more compelled to say we are a particular religion when we do not practice it
Dr. Liz Allen
She says parents often define a particular religion for their children, and people are also more likely to say they are religious after marriage because of ideals around family, but as people get older, they are more likely to say they are not religious.
The people behind the statistics
Indian-born Girrawin resident Goverdan says he doesn’t think religion plays a big role in his community, although he does attend a nearby Hindu temple in Westmead. He says the large Indian community was one of the reasons he was drawn to the area seven years ago, but the suburb’s main attractions were its proximity to Parramatta (Sydney’s second central business), transport, shops and good schools.
The area is also close to Harris Park, which has a large Indian population.
Goverdhan (front left, in yellow) with members of the Australian Telangana Forum in Sydney. Source: Delivered / Charis Chang
Goverdhan is one of the 7 percent of locals who speak Telugu, a classical Indian language still spoken in some states, although he also understands and speaks Hindi, the common language of India.
Goverdhan says he started a Facebook page for the local Indian community because he wanted to share information about education, festivals and other news.
“We are all from the same place, we have common thoughts and good things to share.”
He has lived in Australia for 14 years and said he was able to continue his career in information technology.
“I have a good career here, a good community, a beautiful country and people, a good economy,” he said.
“Australia is a multicultural country, we like all cultures, all people.”
England and English still dominate
across the country, England is the most common place of birth outside of Australia, accounting for up to 4 percent of people followed India (3 percent), and China and New Zealand (both 2 percent).
Other popular countries, each accounting for 1 percent of the population, are Philippines, Vietnam, South Africa, Malaysia, Italy and Sri Lanka.
About 72 percent of Australians speak English at home.
About 4 percent of Australians say they were born in England, and about 72 percent speak English at home. Source: Getty / James D. Morgan
Professor James Reimer of the Australian National University says many English migrants have been in Australia for a long time and are different from Chinese and Indian migrants who are more likely to have arrived recently.
“If you look at the age composition of migrants by country of birth, England has a lot of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, while India and China hardly have any people in that age group.”
The English-born population is also much more spread out, with no areas in Australia containing even 1 percent of the total population. Areas with the largest number of English born Baldivissouth of Perth, followed by the suburbs of Sydney Mosman, Mornington in Victoria and the suburbs of Perth Rockingham.
The future of multiculturalism in Australia
Another popular source of migrants has become Nepal, which recorded the second largest increase in numbers in the last census. Almost 70,000 additional people from Nepal have arrived in Australia since 2017, more than doubling the population since 2016.
Dr Allen says historically there have been only a small number of Nepalis in Australia, making the increase more significant, but the increase may also reflect better economic conditions in Nepal, allowing people to travel abroad and send their children to Australian universities. The members of the community are spread quite widely, but there are larger groups in the suburbs of Sydney Chestnut, Hurstville and Strathfield.
Prof Reimer says migrants moving to Australia, speaking different languages and practicing different religions, are nothing new.
Now Australians come from all over the world
“It was a big problem when Catholics started coming to Australia… It’s such a recurring story for me, the migration groups, the currents, they change over time, they rise and fall.
He says in the future it may be people born in Africa who make up the stronger waves of migration to Australia because they are still growing rapidly, while in other countries, including China and other East Asian countries, the population begins to decline.
Australia has had a hard time adjusting to migrants, he admits, “but in the long run their children will grow up in Australia … they will go to Australian schools, they will become Australians”.
Find out more about where you live, what language you speak and how the country is changing in the 2021 census with .