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Victoria’s cultural diversity in 4 statistics

Did you know that Victoria is one of Australia’s most culturally diverse states?

49.1% of Victorians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas.

That means that half of all Victorians come from a multicultural background!

Amazing, right?

The richness and diversity of Victoria’s multicultural communities are impossible to summarise.

But we’ve put together a data snapshot of our culturally diverse state, using 2016 Census data and 2017 to 2022 Settlement Data.

Explore 4 bite-sized statistics about multicultural Victoria!


601,611 Victorians arrived in Australia between 2006 and 2015

(Source: 2016 Census)

Nearly 6 million people were living in Victoria at the time of the 2016 Census.

This means that ~10% of Victorians were recent migrants to Australia!

In fact, more Victorians arrived in Australia between 2006 and 2015 than in the three decades before that combined.

What does this mean?

Each year, more and more Victorians are arriving from overseas. With more multicultural Victorians than ever, the way we interact with each other is also changing.

At Ethnolink, we’ve noticed a corresponding growth in demand for respectful and inclusive multicultural communications.

And this demand will only keep rising as Victoria grows more culturally diverse each year!


79% of recent Victorian migrants speak a language other than English (LOTE) at home

(Source: 2016 Census)

The proportion of LOTE-speaking Victorians arriving in Australia has been rising steadily for years.

For example, under half (46.0%) of Victorians who arrived in Australia between 1966 and 1975 report speaking a LOTE at home.

Yet, over half (55.4%) of Victorians who arrived in Australia in the decade after that report speaking a LOTE at home.

What does this mean?

On top of more Victorians arriving overseas than ever, a higher proportion of recent migrants are speaking a LOTE at home than ever.

In short, not only is Victoria growing in cultural diversity, but we’re also growing more linguistically diverse.


England is the top country of origin for Victorian migrants in 2016, but…

(Source: 2006 and 2016 Census)

Since 2006, the population of migrants born in England has only grown by fewer than 8,000 people.

In the same decade, Victoria’s Chinese community has more than tripled from ~50,000 people to 160,000!

Similarly, in 2016, India ranked as the 2nd most common birthplace country among Victorian migrants after England.

10 years ago, India wasn’t even among the top 5 birthplace countries in the Victorian population.

You can view the top 5 birthplace countries in 2006 vs 2016 below, with the corresponding population numbers!


  1.  England (163,957)
  2.  Italy (82,851)
  3.  New Zealand (63,995)
  4.  Vietnam (58,873)
  5.  China, excluding SARs and Taiwan (56,564)


  1.  England (171,444)
  2.  India (169,808)
  3.  China, excluding SARs and Taiwan (160,652)
  4.  New Zealand (93,253)
  5.  Vietnam (80,790)


What does this mean?

As you might have guessed from the previous statistic, the population growth of migrants from countries where English is spoken as the lingua franca has been slowing dramatically over the past decades.

Meanwhile, people are pouring in from a truly diverse range of countries and cultures.

This means that the demand for translation services and culturally appropriate in-language resources is growing in Australia, as more migrants from non-English speaking countries choose to call Australia home.


Since 2016, Mandarin, Arabic and Punjabi rank as the top 3 most spoken languages by recent Victorian migrants

(Source: 2017 to 2022 New Settlement Data, Australian Department of Home Affairs)

Using New Settlement Data from the Department of Home Affairs, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 languages other than English spoken by recent Victorian migrants from 2017 to February 2022.

    1. Mandarin
    2. Arabic
    3. Punjabi
    4. Hindi
    5. Telugu
    6. Vietnamese
    7. Urdu
    8. Nepali
    9. Sinhalese
    10. Chinese, nec

According to the 2016 Census, the Telugu, Urdu and Nepali-speaking communities do not rank among the top 10 languages spoken by Victorians. But New Settlement Data suggests that these language communities are growing steadily.

What does this mean?

Overall, language communities continue to grow, but some are expanding more quickly than others!

The languages spoken by Australians grow more diverse each year, and our cultural demographic is sure to look very different five years from now, just as it looks different now versus five years ago.


Want to learn more?

Many in our team are proud Victorians, and we cannot express how excited we are to see the growing richness and diversity of our state.

And we are eagerly awaiting the release of the 2021 Census data for more insights into Victoria’s ever-changing diversity.

That said, there is still work to be done to improve equity and accessibility for our multicultural communities.

About 1 in 7 (14.0%) Victorians who speak a LOTE at home also identify as having low English proficiency.

This subsection of the population is among the most vulnerable, as they tend to face more barriers when accessing support and health services.

And it’s why Ethnolink is committed to providing a space to learn and explore all things multicultural communications with our newly-launched Ethnolink Education platform.

Ethnolink Education is home to an entire lesson about Victoria’s cultural diversity, filled with even more data bites and deep dives into the 2016 Census and 2017 to 2022 Victorian New Settlement Data.

We will also be publishing a report on Australia’s multicultural communities when the 2021 Census Data is released.

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