Notes on the data: Non-English speaking countries of birth

Top ten birthplaces of people born in non-English speaking countries, 2016


Policy context:  In the post-war period (in particular from the 1950s) the majority of immigrants from non-English speaking countries came to Australia from Europe; in recent years, the proportion of these immigrants from Europe has declined [1]. The largest non-English speaking groups at the time of the 2016 Census were from Asia, from China, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Korea, Republic of (South). The largest numbers of immigrants from European countries were from Italy, Germany and Greece [2].

Reflecting this trend, the most rapidly growing non-English speaking groups are now from Asia, with their proportion in the population increasing from 24% of the overseas-born population in 2001, to 32.9% in 2011 and to 39.7% in 2016 [1] [2]. The largest increases in arrivals from the Asian countries over the five years 2011 to 2015 in comparison with the number who arrived over the years 2006 to 2010 were of people from Pakistan (128.3%, or more than double the number in the later period), Hong Kong (74.1%), China (46.6%), Japan (41.4%) and Malaysia (40.3%). Other non-European countries with high growth rates were Iran (152.8%, or over twice the number in the later period), and Iraq (36.3%) [2].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Cultural diversity in Australia - Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012-2013. (ABS Cat. no. 2071.0). Canberra: ABS; 2012.
  2. ABS. 2016 Census Community Profiles. Canberra: ABS; 2017 Mar, accessed 8 August 2017. Available from:

Notes:  The data comprise residents of Australia who were born overseas in one of the predominantly non-English speaking countries which are in the top ten for Australia in terms of high numbers of migrants. These are, from highest to lowest: China (excluding Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong & Macau, and Taiwan), India, Philippines, Vietnam, Italy, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Germany, Korea, Republic of (South), and Greece.

The numerator excludes the 6.9% of the population (this percentage varies across States/Territories) who did not state their country of birth: however, these records are included in the denominator.




Numerator:  People born in the top ten non-English speaking countries:
China (excluding Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong & Macau, and Taiwan), India, Italy, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Germany, Greece, Sri Lanka and Lebanon


Denominator:  Total population


Detail of analysis:  Percent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census 2011 data.


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