Ethiopian Australians

Ethiopian Australians
Total population
5,600 (by ancestry, 2006)[1]
5,633 (by birth, 2006).[2]
Regions with significant populations
Various languages of Ethiopia, Australian English
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Islam, Pentecostalism[3]

Ethiopian Australians is a term that may be used to refer to immigrants from Ethiopia to Australia and their descendants. However, as Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic country with significant inter-ethnic tensions, not all immigrants from Ethiopia accept the label "Ethiopian", instead preferring to identify by their ethnic group.[3] In particular, various Oromo groups use the term Oromo Australian instead.[4][5]

Migration history

Ethiopian refugees who would eventually settle in Australia began flowing out of their home country as early as the 1970s, when the Derg came to power.[3] They lived in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, mainly Sudan and Kenya, some for as long as 20 years before they found a country willing to resettle them. More left as refugees after Eritrea gained independence in 1993.[6] The United States, rather than Australia, was the first-choice destination for most refugees; as a result, the Ethiopians in Australia tend to have less educational background and occupational skills than Ethiopian populations who relocated elsewhere.[3]

The peak of Ethiopian refugee resettlement to Australia came in 2003, when 700 came to the country.[6] Late in the following year, 350 more Ethiopians from the Abu Rakham camp in Sudan, largely single or widowed mothers and their families, were resettled in Australia. These were mostly Christians of Amhara and Tigray descent. In total, about 3,000 Ethiopians settled in Australia between 2000 and 2005.[6]

Numbers and distribution

According to the 2006 Australian census 5,633 Australians were born in Ethiopia[2] while 5,600 claimed Ethiopian ancestry, either alone or with another ancestry.[1] The similar figures for ancestry and place of birth are indicative of the very recent immigration of this group.

Australia's 2001 census found about 3,600 residents of the country who reported their place of birth as Ethiopia.[6] This made them the 15th-largest group of Ethiopian-born people in a country outside of Ethiopia, ahead of the United Arab Emirates and behind Norway.[7] About 85% of those lived in Melbourne, alongside communities of immigrants from other countries in the Horn of Africa, mainly Eritrea and Somalia; they are primarily settled in Footscray and neighbouring suburbs such as Ascot Vale, Braybrook, Flemington, Kensington, and Sunshine.[3] Other community of immigrants from Ethiopia can be found in New South Wales and Tasmania.[8]

Education and employment

According to the 2011 Census, 51.3 per cent of Ethiopia-born Australians 15 years and over in age had some form of higher non-school qualifications. 19.7 per cent of the Ethiopia-born aged 15 years and over were still attending an educational institution.[9]

Ethiopia-born individuals in Australia aged 15 years and over participated in the labour force at a rate of 62.3 per cent; the unemployment rate was 15 per cent. Of the 3,775 Ethiopia-born immigrants who were employed, 26.2 per cent worked in a professional, skilled managerial or trade occupation.[9] In Footscray, some have set up ethnic-oriented businesses, such as hair salons, clothing shops, and restaurants with a mostly Ethiopian customer base.[3]


Religious divisions among migrants from Ethiopia follow ethnic lines. The Amhara and Tigray are largely members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church while the Gurage are almost evenly divided between members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and followers of Islam. Most Oromo are Muslim or members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church or various Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches, and the Harari and Afar are almost all Muslims. There were two Ethiopian Pentecostal churches in the Melbourne area as of 2001, as well as an Ethiopian Orthodox church in Maribyrnong. However, there were no mosques specifically devoted to Muslims from Ethiopia; instead, they worship alongside believers from other countries.[3]

Notable people


  1. 1 2 ABS 2006b, Ancestry
  2. 1 2 ABS 2006a, Country of Birth
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Gow 2001
  4. Events, Melbourne: Oromo Community Association, retrieved 30 November 2008
  5. "Oromo-Australian woman participates in international diplomacy training", Oromia Online, 31 July 2000, archived from the original on 4 July 2008, retrieved 30 November 2008
  6. 1 2 3 4 DIMA 2006
  7. Matteo Terrazas 2007
  8. "Ethiopian community receives fire safety lesson", ABC News, 26 November 2006, retrieved 30 November 2008
  9. 1 2 "The Ethiopia-born Community". Department of Social Services. Retrieved 21 July 2014.


Further reading

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