Migration data which was recently released by the ABS showed that as of June 2018, an estimated 17,650,130 residents of Australia were born in Australia. While this may seem like a high number, it shows that 29.4% of residents were born overseas. Based on data from the ABS which dates back to 1996, this is the highest share of residents born overseas on record.

The data also shows that over 2017-18, Australian born residents increased by 1.1%, overseas-born residents increased in population by a much larger 2.8%. While that figure is high, it was down from 3.3% over the previous year.

The top 10 countries of birth outside of Australia are shown in the accompanying chart.

Harking back to colonial times, England remains the largest source of residents that were born overseas In fact, almost 1 million residents were born in England which accounts for 13.5% of all Australian residents that were born overseas. The top 10 countries of birth accounted for 54.8% of all residents that were born overseas as at June 2018.

Another interesting point to note is that migration from certain countries has clearly slowed. The number of persons born in England peaked at 1,012,780 persons in 2013, consistently falling to its current level. The number of persons born in New Zealand also peaked in 2013 at 585,390, as did persons born in Scotland (142,360) and persons born in Italy (200,670). While we have seen fewer residents born in these countries over the past five years, there has been a significant rise in persons born in China (432,400 in 2013) and India (378,480) over the same five year period.

Twenty years ago the top 10 countries of birth for residents born overseas accounted for 56.0% of all residents born overseas. Keep in mind that in 1998, much lower 4,310,210 residents were born overseas. The makeup of the top 10 list 20 years ago is quite different from how it currently looks. China is now the second largest source of residents while 20 years ago it was the 7th largest. India which I now the 3rd largest source of residents was the 12th largest source, Malaysia is now the 9th largest source and was the 13th largest source 2 decades ago and South Africa is now the 7th largest source of residents compared to 17th 20 years ago. 20 years ago Greece was the 6th largest source of residents born overseas compared to 15th now, Germany was the 8th largest source compared to being 14th now and Netherlands was the 10th largest source compared to 25th now.

Although the Federal Government has recently announced that they are set to reduce the migration intake going forward, Australia is still set to be a very multicultural country. Furthermore, demand for our education services, particularly from the world’s two most populous countries (China and India) is anticipated to remain high. As a result, expect even more residents of Chinese and Indian heritage to find their way to our shores over the coming years. Similarly, those countries such as Scotland and Italy will likely see themselves fall out of the top 10 list over coming years with new countries of origin fining their way to the top 10 list.


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