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Indians in Australia

The Indian population in Australia has increased 30 per cent in less than 2 years; it’s now the third largest migrant group in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates that there are 592,000 Indians living in Australia as of June 2018. This is a 30% higher when compared to Census of 2016 which recorded 455,389 Indians living in Australia. India has been Australia’s biggest source of migrants since 2016.

In 2017-2018 33,310 places of 162,417 permanent residents were granted to Indian citizens and out of 183,608 visa quota 38,854 visas were given to Indian citizens in 2016-17.

Indian migration to Australia is very recent compared to Indian migration to other parts of the world like USA, UK, Africa etc. It is said that the first Indian had come to Australia as part of Captain Cook's ship, the first settlers in Australia.Before Roads and road transport was developed, many Indians had come to Australia to run Camel trains.

These brave Indians were called Afghans and kept the communication and supply line open between Melbourne and the center of Australia. They would transport goods and mail over Camel backs in the desert. There is no descendant of these Afghans that I could get in touch with.

More Indians came to Australia more than fifty years ago while both Australia and India were British colonies. These enterprising Sikhs came to work on the Banana Plantations in Southern Queensland. Today a large number of them live in the town of Wolgoolga (roughly half way between Sydney and Brisbane on the highway. These people have their own Banana Farms and are quite rich. Their riches have come by hard work. There are two Sikh temples in Wolgoolga. One of them even has a Museum on Sikhism.

A large number of British and Anglo Indians who born in India migrated to Australia after 1947. These British citizens decided to settle in Australia in large numbers but are still counted as 'Indian' Nationals in the Census. You will be surprised to find that a full blooded Australian looking old man will whisper to you in Hindi or Urdu. The third wave of Indians came about 25 years ago, just after Australia abandoned its Whites Only policy. Yes, this is a little known fact that Australia until recently was a whites only country. This policy was abolished and many Teachers and Doctors came to settle in Australia.

Another big influx began with the silicon chi revolution. Large number of Indian Computer Software professional started arriving in Australia from 1976 onwards. Today it is hard to go to an IT shop and not find a few Indians working there.

When a military coupe took place in Fiji almost a decade ago and Indians were prosecuted there, many of them came to Australia. Australia and Newzealand provided Refuge to these Fiji Indians. Today there is a large Fiji Indian population in Australia who call Australia there home. These Fiji Indians have changed the face of Indian Australia. While most earlier Indian migration was that of educated professionals, these new Fiji Indians were more dynamic and business going. Their arrival has increased the services enjoyed by all Indians. Now Indians can buy Sarees and Gold Jewelery. There are Indian night clubs and off course, Indian cinema can be seen on weekends. The current wave of Indian migration is that of Engineers, tool makers from India, Gujarati business families from Africa and second level relatives of settled Indians. Most Gujarati families go into business.

Engineers and Tool Makers, most of them, find a dead end of job. Being as enterprising as many Indians are, they either go back to College and study programming to land a decent and stable job. Others are venturing into their own businesses. September,98

A new wave of Indian immigrants has hit Australia. Starved of government funding, Australian education institutes are desperately recruiting full fee paying overseas students. Many universities have permanent representatives stationed in India and other Asian countries. Their efforts have been rewarded and a new influx of Indian students is entering Australia.

It is estimated that Canberra University which is one of about two dozen universities is recruiting about 500 students every year for last four years. Many regional universities like University of Ballarratt have opened campus in Sydney to cater to these foreign students.

Many of these students have paid large sums of fees and are looking for work to support themselves. This has started the transformation the working class. In 1986 a flux of non-skilled Indian immigrants meant that you could see white Australians being replaced by Indians in cleaning jobs.

In 1998 we have started seeing the replacement of counter staff and chefs at McDonalds and other places by young,bright and attentive Indian students. I guess the plight of Indian students in Australia is that of Indian student migration to USA during the 1970's. We will see many of these young boys becoming future millionaires in Australia in the year 2010 and beyond.

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Arrival of Hinduism in Australia

  • 1788 - Indian crews from Bay of Bengal came to Australia on trading ships.
  • 1816 - Domestic servants in European households left the port of Calcutta to take up laboring work in Sydney.
  • 1844 - P. Friell who had previously lived in India, brought 25 domestic workers from India to Sydney and these included a few women and children.
  • 1850's - A Hindu merchant, Shri Pammull, built a family opal trade in Melbourne that has prosperously continued with his third-to fourth-generation descendants.
  • 1857 - The census showed a mere 277 Hindus in Victoria. The gold rush years attracted many Indians to Australia and across the borders to the gold mines in Victoria.
  • 1893 - The census showed that 521 Hindus were living in New South Wales.
  • 1901 - Just about 800 Indians lived in Australia, the majority of them lived in northern NSW and Queensland.
  • 1911 - The census counted 3698 Hindus in the entire country.
  • 1921 - Less than 2200 Indians lived in Australia.
  • 1977 - The first Hindu temple in Australia, the Sri Mandir Temple, was built. Established by three devotees; Dr Padmanabn Shrindhar Prabhu, Dr Anand and Mr Prem Shankar, who bought an old house in Auburn NSW and paid $12000.00 to convert it into a temple.
  • 1981 - The census recorded 12,466 Hindus in Victoria and 12,256 in NSW from a total of 41,730 in the entire country.
  • 1985 - a Hindu society, the Saiva Manram, was formed in order to build a temple for Lord Murukan. Since its inception, Lord Murukan has been called 'Sydney Murukan'. The Saiva Manram has worked hard for nearly ten years to build a temple for Lord Murukan.
  • 1996 - Hindus with their birthplace in India made up 31 per cent of all Hindus in Australia. But the census also showed there were 67,270 Hindus living in Australia.

Indian students studying in Australia

Australia - An Ideal Study Destination

In the past decade Australia has emerged as a leading provider of top quality education to international students from all over the world. During 2005 there were 340,000 enrollments by international students at Australian education institutions representing over 200 different nationalities. This was a 7% increase over the number in 2004.

Indian students have made Australia one of their firm favorites for international studies with over 27,000 Indian student enrollments at Australian education institutions in 2005, mainly in the fields of post-graduate studies.


This contrasts with less than 500 Indian students in the early 1990's and the 10,000 Indian student enrollments in 2001.

Around 85% of the Indian students studying in Australia are undertaking higher education in the fields of Information Technology, Engineering, Management, Accounting, Applied Science and Hospitality. However, new fields of study such as Biotechnology, Communication Studies and Art & Design are emerging.

In 2017 there were 70,000 students studying in Australian universities which is a seven-year high.

Why do Indians prefer to study in Australia?

Most Indian students prefer to study in the Australian vocational education and training system and at university level in some of the popular fields of study like business and management, information technology, engineering, tourism and hospitality. Apart from this, Indian students are increasingly studying in a wide range of disciplines at Australian institutions.

Here are just a few reasons why Indians have made Australia their overseas study destination:

  • Over the past few years, Australia has gained immense popularity as a high-quality education provider to international students. In India too, there has been growing awareness of Australian qualifications and study programs.
  • International students are attracted to the flexibility afforded by the Australian Qualification Framework, which sets out 12 levels of qualifications across the three educational sectors - school, university and vocational education and training.Qualifications are awarded only after the achievement of competency standards.Once achieved, students can progress through different levels of qualifications, regardless of the sector in which they were achieved, thus providing many different pathways between different levels.
  • Australia is famous for its enormous cultural diversity and its safe and welcoming environment.
  • The interests of international students in Australia are protected by legislation - the Education Services for Overseas Students Act. Only institutions, which are registered by the Australian Government, can recruit students from overseas.
  • The tuition costs in Australia compare favorably with traditional destinations, such as the USA and Britain.

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