Demographics of Melbourne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Demographic map of Melbourne. Each dot indicates 100 persons born in Britain (dark blue), Greece (light blue), Mainland China (red), India (brown), Vietnam (yellow), Turkey (purple), Italy (light green) and (former states of) Yugoslavia (dark green). Based on 2006 Census data.
Chart of Melbourne's current and projected population growth

Melbourne is Australia's second largest city and has a diverse and multicultural population.

Melbourne has dominated Australia's population growth for the 15th year in a row as of 2017, adding 125,424 people between 2016–2017. It is expected to boom past 5 million people by 2019 and overtake Sydney's declined population growth in the late 2020s or early 2030s.[1] Melbourne currently has over 4.85 million people. By 2018 it should well be over the 4.9 million mark leaving only 280,586 people between Melbourne and Sydney. Melbourne closes the gap by roughly 25,000 people on Sydney annually, forecasting to become the largest city in Australia in 11 years.

Almost a quarter of Victoria's population was born overseas, and the city is home to residents from 200 countries and territories, who speak over 233 languages and dialects and follow 116 religious faiths. Melbourne has the second largest Asian population in Australia, which includes the largest Indian and Sri Lankan communities in the country.[2][3][4]

The earliest known inhabitants of the broad area that later became known as Melbourne were Indigenous Australians – specifically, at the time of European settlement, the Bunurong, Wurundjeri and Wathaurong tribal groups. Melbourne is still a centre of Aboriginal life — consisting of local groups and indigenous groups from other parts of Australia, as most indigenous Victorians were displaced from their traditional lands during colonization – with the Aboriginal community in the city numbering over 20,000 persons (0.6% of the population).[5]

Demographic statistics

Although Victoria's net interstate migration has fluctuated, the Melbourne statistical division was growing by approximately 50,000 people a year in 2003. Melbourne has now attracted the largest proportion of international overseas immigrants (48,000) finding it outpacing Sydney's international migrant intake, along with having strong interstate migration from Sydney and other capitals due to more affordable housing and cost of living, which have been two recent key factors driving Melbourne's growth.[18][19]

In recent years, Melton, Wyndham and Casey, part of the Melbourne statistical division, have recorded the highest growth rate of all local government areas in Australia. Despite a demographic study stating that Melbourne could overtake Sydney in population by 2028,[20] the ABS has projected in two scenarios that Sydney will remain larger than Melbourne beyond 2056, albeit by a margin of less than 3% compared to a margin of 12% in 2011. However, the first scenario projects that Melbourne's population overtakes Sydney in 2039, primarily due to larger levels of internal migration losses assumed for Sydney.[21]

Melbourne's population density declined following the Second World War, with the private motor car and the lures of space and property ownership causing a suburban sprawl, mainly eastward. After much discussion both at general public and planning levels in the 1980s, the decline has reversed since the recession of the early 1990s.

The city has seen increased density in the inner and western suburbs. Since the 1970s, Victorian Government planning blueprints, such as Postcode 3000 and Melbourne 2030, have aimed to curtail the urban sprawl.[22][23]

Demographic history

European settlement and Gold Rush immigration

Melbourne's Chinatown, established in 1854, is the oldest in Australia and one of the oldest in the world

The first European settlers in Melbourne were British and Irish. These two groups accounted for nearly all arrivals before the gold rush, and supplied most immigrants to the city until the Second World War.

Melbourne was transformed by the 1850s gold rush; within months of the discovery of gold in August 1852, the city's population had increased by nearly three-quarters, from 25,000 to 40,000 inhabitants.[24] Thereafter, growth was exponential and by 1865, Melbourne had overtaken Sydney as Australia's most populous city.[25]

Many Chinese, German and American nationals were to be found on the goldfields and subsequently in Melbourne. The various nationalities involved in the Eureka Stockade revolt nearby give some indication of the migration flows in the second half of the nineteenth century.[26]

Post-war immigration

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Melbourne experienced unprecedented inflows from Mediterranean Europe and the Balkans, primarily Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, and West Asia, mostly from Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. According to the 2001 Census, there were 151,785 ethnic Greeks in the metropolitan area.[27] 47% of all Greek Australians live in Melbourne.[28] Ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese also maintain significant presences.


Darker green indicate areas of higher household incomes. Suburbs immediately east of the centre tend to be more affluent

Areas within the Greater Melbourne area host varying groups of socio economic background, inner city areas tend to be more affluent, gentrified or bohemian, suburban areas tend to house middle class residents, whilst outer suburban areas tend to house lower income residents.

Other points of note include increased property prices in public transport corridors, leading to many of these areas, particularly in the inner east, being more affluent


Overseas-born Population (2016 Australian census)[29]
Country of birth Population
India India 161,078
China Mainland China 155,998
England England 133,300
Vietnam Vietnam 79,054
New Zealand New Zealand 78,906
Italy Italy 63,332
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka 54,030
Malaysia Malaysia 47,642
Greece Greece 45,618
Philippines Philippines 45,157
South Africa South Africa 24,168
Hong Kong Hong Kong 20,840
Established during the gold rush, Melbourne's Chinatown is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western world.

In Greater Melbourne at the 2016 census, 63.3% of residents were born in Australia. The other most common countries of birth were India (3.6%), Mainland China (3.5%), England (3%), Vietnam (1.8%) and New Zealand (1.8%).[30]

In 2016 the most common ancestries in Melbourne as a proportion of people who nominated their ancestry (Greater Capital City Statistical Area) were English (28%), Australian (26%), Irish (9.7%), Chinese (8.5%), Scottish (7.8%), Italian (7.1%) and Indian (4.7%).[31][32]

Outside the five largest ancestries, Melbourne also has the largest Greek-speaking population outside Europe, a population comparable to some larger Greek cities like Larissa and Volos.[33] Thessaloniki is Melbourne's Greek sister city.

As of the 2016 census, 62% of Melburnians speak only English at home.[34] Mandarin (4.1%), Greek (2.4%), Italian (2.3%), Vietnamese (2.3%), and Cantonese (1.7%) are the most common foreign languages spoken at home by residents of Melbourne.[35]

An Indian restaurant in West Melbourne.

Melbourne experiences comparatively high levels of migrant integration to the other capital cities, however some foreign ethnic groups are associated with the suburb in which they first settled:

The cities of Dandenong, Monash, Casey and Whittlesea on Melbourne's fringe are particular current migrant hotspots.[36]

Melbourne exceeds the national average in terms of proportion of residents born overseas: 34.8% compared to a national average of 23.1%. In concordance with national data, Britain is the most commonly reported country of birth, with 4.7%, followed by Italy (2.4%), Greece (2.1%) and then China (1.3%). Melbourne also features substantial Vietnamese, Indian and Sri Lankan-born communities, in addition to recent South African and Sudanese influxes.

Over two-thirds of people in Melbourne speak only English at home (68.8%). Italian is the second most common home language (4.0%), with Greek (3.8%) third and Chinese (3.5%) fourth, each with over 100,000 speakers.[37]

Demographics and Cuisine

As a result of large migrant populations, Melbourne has a proliferation of areas where restaurants, cafes and services of similar international demographic establish, particularly Chinese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian cuisines. Some of these areas include:

  • Central Footscray – Vietnamese, Chinese and African cuisine
  • Robinson, Walker and Foster streets, Dandenong – Indian (Little India)
  • Thomas Street, Dandenong – Afghan (Afghan Bazaar)
  • Central Springvale – Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian
  • Glen Waverley – Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Sri Lankan and other Asian cuisines
  • Koornang Road, Carnegie – Korean cuisine
  • Lygon Street, southern end, Carlton – Italian cuisine (Little Italy)
  • Little Bourke Street, eastern end, Melbourne city – Chinese and East Asian cuisine (Chinatown)
  • Central Box Hill – Chinese and East Asian cuisine
  • Lonsdale Street, top end, Melbourne city – Greek cuisine
  • Sydney Road, Coburg/Brunswick – Lebanese and Turkish
  • Victoria Street, Abbotsford/Richmond – Chinese, Vietnamese (Little Saigon)
  • Johnston Street, western end, Fitzroy – Spanish/Mexican
  • Caulfield & North Caulfield – Kosher Jewish cuisine
  • Oakleigh – Greek cuisine
  • Areas notable for large variety of mixed cuisine – Dandenong, Ormond, Brunswick, Melbourne city


St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne (the foundation stone was laid in 1858)

The 2006 Census records show some 28.3% (1,018,113) of Melbourne residents list their religious affiliation as Catholic.[38] The next highest responses were No Religion (20.0%, 717,717), Anglican (12.1%, 433,546), Eastern Orthodox (5.9%, 212,887) and the Uniting Church (4.0%, 143,552).[38] Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Hindus collectively account for 7.5% of the population.


In 1848, the first large group of Buddhists to come to Australia came as part of gold rush. The great majority stayed briefly for prospecting purposes rather than as permanent settlers. In 1856, a temple was established in South Melbourne by the Sze Yap group. The first specific Australian Buddhist group, the Buddhist Study Group Melbourne, was formed in Melbourne in 1938 but ended a short time later during the Second World War.[39]


The largest religious group is Christianity. 64% of people from Melbourne consider themselves Christians but this is subdivided into a number of denominations of which over half are members of the Roman Catholic Church, followed by the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and the Uniting churches. The city has two large cathedrals, St Patrick's (Roman Catholic),[40] and St Paul's (Anglican).[41] Both were built in the Victorian era and are of considerable heritage significance as major landmarks of the city.[42]


The majority of Australian Hindus live along the Eastern Coast of Australia and are mainly located in Melbourne and Sydney. As a community Hindus live relatively peacefully and in harmony with the local populations. They have established a number of temples and other religious meeting places and celebrate most Hindu festivals.[43]


There are approximately 500,000 Muslims living in Australia with over 100,000 settled in Melbourne. They are noted for their diversity with heritages from more than 60 countries.[44] [45] The first Muslims to settle permanently in Australia were the cameleers, mainly from Afghanistan from as early as the 1860s.


Four out of ten Australian Jews call Melbourne home. The city is also residence to the largest number of Holocaust survivors of any Australian city,[46] indeed the highest per capita concentration outside Israel itself.[47] To service the needs of the vibrant Jewish community, Melbourne's Jewry have established multiple synagogues, which today number over 30,[48] along with a local Jewish newspaper.[49] Melbourne's largest universityMonash University is named after prominent Jewish general and statesman, John Monash.[50]


Sikhism is a small but growing minority religion in Australia, that can trace its origins in the nation to the 1830s. The Sikhs form one of the largest subgroups of Indian Australians with 125,000 adherents according to the 2016 census, having grown from 17,000 in 2001 and 12,000 in 1996[1] [2]. Most adherents can trace their ancestry back to the Punjab region of South Asia, which is currently divided between India and Pakistan. Whereas, as per anecdotal evidence collected by Sikh Council of Australia inc, there are approximately 100,000 Sikhs in Australia and the number of Punjabi speakers is even higher. They are often mistaken for who they are not, due to Sikh men required to wear a "Turban" as one of the 5 articles of faith. The largest Sikh community’s are situated on the Eastern Sea Board, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, followed by Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Cairns, Townsville. Sikh’s also make up a significant population in the town of Woolgoolga near Coffs Harbour, NSW where they own Banana Plantations. There is also a significant Sikh population in Griffith NSW, Renmark SA, associated with Farming. Kahlon Estate’s in Renmark which produce Australia’s Premium Wines are owned by Sikh emigrants


Melbourne, like the rest of Australia, is partially irreligious, with the proportion of people identifying themselves as Christian declining from 96% in 1901 to 64% in 2006 and those who did not state their religion or declared no religion rising from 2% to over 30% over the same period.[51]

Religion[52] Total
of total
1 Christianity 2,231,054 55.8%
2 Buddhism 158,635 4.0%
3 Islam 144,649 3.6%
4 Hinduism 79,757 2.0%
5 Sikhism 49,104 1.2%
6 Judaism 44,561 1.1%
7 Non-classifiable religious belief 34,473 0.9%
8 Irreligion 939,219 23.5%
9 Not stated 323,158 8.1%
10 Total population 3,999,958 100%

See also


  1. ^ "Booming Melbourne to surpass Sydney". Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  2. ^ "Vicnet Directory Indian Community". Vicnet. Archived from the original on 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  3. ^ "Vicnet Directory Sri Lankan Community". Vicnet. Archived from the original on 2008-10-16. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  4. ^ "Vietnamese Community Directory". Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  5. ^ VicNet — Strategy for Aboriginal Managed Land in Victoria: Draft Report [Part 1-Section 2]
  6. ^ "2006 Census Tables : Country of Birth of Person by Year of Arrival in Australia — Melbourne". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2008-04-16.
  7. ^ "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2009–10". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  8. ^ "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2012–13: ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, States and Territories – Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSAs)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014. ERP at 30 June 2013.
  9. ^ MMBW (ed.). Melbourne metropolitan planning scheme 1954 : planning scheme ordinance p23. Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.
  10. ^ "Australian Bureau of Statistics 1961". Found in University and State libraries and some public libraries: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
  11. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics 1971
  12. ^ Maher, C.A. Division of National Mapping and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ed.). Melbourne – a social atlas [cartographic material]. 3 (Atlas of population and housing, 1981 census ; ed.). Canberra : Division of National Mapping and Australian Bureau of Statistics in association with the Institute of Australian Geographers, 1984. ISBN 0-642-51634-0.
  13. ^ Social Atlas/"Supermap" Census Data, 1986
  14. ^ Social Atlas/"Supermap" Census Data, 1991
  15. ^ Victoria. Dept. of Infrastructure (ed.). Report of the Advisory Committee on the Victoria planning provisions (VPPs) / Minister for and Local Government. [Melbourne] : Minister for Planning and Local Government, 1998.
  16. ^ "Melbourne Urbanized Area: Statistical Local Areas by Population Density: 1999". Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  17. ^ Regional Economic Development in Victoria: Melbourne Statistical Division Archived 2013-05-12 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ The Resurgence of Marvellous Melbourne Trends in Population Distribution in Victoria, 1991–1996
  19. ^ Article by John O'Leary. Monash University Press
  20. ^ "Population pushing Melbourne to top". The Australian. 12 November 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  21. ^ "3222.0 – Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4 September 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  22. ^ "Melbourne 2030 – in summary". Victorian Government, Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE). Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  23. ^ "City of Melbourne — Strategic Planning — Postcode 3000". City of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  24. ^ Victorian Cultural Collaboration. "Gold!". Archived from the original on 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  25. ^ The Snowy Mountains Scheme and Multicultural Australia Archived January 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Annear, Robyn (1999). Nothing But Gold. The Text Publishing Company.
  27. ^ 2001 Social Atlas for Melbourne
  28. ^ City of Melbourne. "Multicultural communities — Greeks". Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^$File/
  33. ^ "Policy data" (PDF).
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ "The streets of our town". The Age. 22 July 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  37. ^ "Demographic Profiling of Victorian Government Website Visitors 2007". Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  38. ^ a b "QuickStats : Melbourne (Statistical Division)". 2006 Census. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  39. ^ "Melbourne Buddhist Centre". Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  40. ^ "St Patrick's Cathedral". Catholic Communication, Melbourne. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  41. ^ "St. Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne". Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  42. ^ "Victorian Architectural Period — Melbourne". Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  43. ^ "Hindu Temples in Melbourne, VIC". Archived from the original on 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  44. ^ "Inside Muslim Melbourne". 27 August 2005. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  45. ^ "Census shows non-Christian religions continue to grow at a faster rate". 27 June 2007. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
  46. ^ Holocaust Remembrance in Australian Jewish Communities Judith Berman
  47. ^ "The Kadimah & Yiddish Melbourne in the 20th Century". Jewish Cultural Centre and National Library: "Kadima". Retrieved 9 January 2007.
  48. ^ "Jewish Community of Melbourne, Australia". The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  49. ^ "Welcome to the AJN!". The Australian Jewish News. Archived from the original on 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  50. ^ Perry, Roland (2004). Monash: The Outsider who Won A War. Random House.
  51. ^ "Cultural diversity". 1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 2008. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  52. ^ Greater Melbourne Religion
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Demographics of Melbourne"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA