Notes on the data: Birthplace & Non-English-speaking residents

People born in predominantly non-English-speaking countries, 2021


Policy context:  Although this indicator is far from precise, even in defining countries from which people coming to live in Australia will face a language barrier, it is included in the absence of a better measure. Other measures of relevance in this atlas are of the year in which people arrived (shown as recent or longer-term arrivals), language spoken at home and details of those arriving under Australia’s Humanitarian Program, or the Migration Program for skilled and family entrants.

In the 2021 Census, 5,016,314 people (19.7% of the total population) were born in countries referred to as 'predominantly non-English-speaking [1]. Country of birth groups which increased the most between 2011 and 2021 were India (up 373,300 people) and China (208,200). Notably, the number of people born in China decreased by 52,000 people during the pandemic; there was a small decrease, of 13,000, of those born in India. Two countries with relatively large increases over this ten-year period were Philippines (up by 117,600) and Nepal (by 102,100) [1].

In 2021, just over half (51.2%) of all Australians were either born overseas or had at least one parent who was born overseas:

  1. More than a quarter (29.3%) of the Australian population were first generation Australians (born overseas).
  2. 22.2% of the population were second generation Australians (born in Australia, but had one or both parents born overseas).
  3. Almost half (48.5%) of the population were at least third generation Australians (born in Australia, as were both of their parents) [1].


  1. Data from PHIDU workbooks available at:

Notes:  The data comprise people born in 'predominantly non-English-speaking countries' which comprise all but the following overseas countries, designated as 'English-speaking': Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

In the data workbooks, the numerator excludes the 5.3% of the population  (this percentage varies across States/Territories) who did not provide their country of birth: however, these records are included in the denominator.


Geography:   Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Quintiles within PHNs, and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  People born in predominantly non-English speaking countries


Denominator:  Total population


Detail of analysis:  Percent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census of Population and Housing, August 2021


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