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

People born in predominantly non-English-speaking countries resident in Australia for five years or more, 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 2021, some 83% of Australia's population who were born in a predominantly non-English-speaking country had been in Australia for five years or more [1].

In the post-war period (in particular from the 1950s), the majority of immigrants from non-English-speaking countries came from Europe; in recent years the proportion of these immigrants from Europe has declined, with increasing numbers coming, in particular, from across Asia (South East Asia, North East Asia and Southern and Central Asia).

Reflecting this trend, the proportions arriving from countries in North-West Europe and Southern and Eastern Europe have, whereas those from Philippines, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Iraq, among others, have increased [2].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2021 Census of Population and Housing General community profile Australia Canberra ABS 2022. Available from:; accessed 25 August 2022
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Australia’s Population by Country of Birth, 2021. Available from:; accessed 25 August 2022

Notes:  The data comprise people born in predominantly non-English-speaking countries arriving before 2012.

'Predominantly non-English-speaking countries' comprise all but the following overseas countries, designated here 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, as well as the 2.4% of the population born overseas who did not state their year of arrival: 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, and resident in Australia for five years or more


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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