The changing face of migration to Australia


My parents were migrants to Australia.

In fact I was a migrant arriving here at the age of 3 in 1956.

Today, according to the 2016 Census, over a quarter (26.4%) of people living in Australia were born overseas .

This is an additional 870,263 overseas immigrants since the previous Census in 2011.

But the face of immigration is changing.

The top 10 birthplaces of people born overseas is changing…

Top 10 birthplaces of people born overseas, 2016 (Birthplace & Percentage of population)

  1. United Kingdom 4.6%             world-globe-travel-plane-visit-holiday-migrate-immigrant-move
  2. New Zealand 2.2%
  3. China 2.2%
  4. India 1.9%
  5. Philippines 1.0%
  6. Vietnam 0.9%
  7. Italy 0.7%
  8. South Africa 0.7%
  9. Malaysia 0.6%
  10. Sri Lanka 0.5%

Demographers have charted the changing nature  of the top 10 birthplaces for people born overseas between the last two censuses – 2011 and 2016

Top 10 Birthplace

A strong history of migration

Australia has been founded on waves of migration.

Way back to the gold rush of the mid 1800’s, through to the post-war migration boom mainly from the UK and Europe (including my parents and me) to the more recent a wave of migration from Asia associated with globalisation and a strong economy.

The chart below from shows the year of arrival by selected countries of birth – United Kingdom, China, India, Vietnam, Italy and Greece.

As you can see have been various waves of arrival.Year Of Arrival


After WW2 the bulk of Australian immigration program was from the United Kingdom.   

I still remember the Ten Pound Pom which was the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme, which reached its peak in the 1960s.

The Pom’s were only charged 10 Pounds for their fare to Australia to encourage migration

As you can see from the chart above over the last decade arrivals from China and India far outnumber those from the UK.

Arrivals from India started to increase from the mid-1960s, and especially after the mid-1980s.

India (316,430) just pipped China (302,460) as the main source country of arrivals to Australia since 2006.


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and one of Australia's 50 most influential Thought Leaders. His opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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