Department of Family and Community Services

Immigration and cultural diversity

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Immigration continues to play an important part in the growth and diversity of NSW. In 2011, just over a quarter of the state’s female population were born overseas with the top 10 countries of birth being England, China, New Zealand, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Lebanon, Italy, South Korea and South Africa.1 A similar proportion (27.5 percent) of NSW women spoke a language other than English at home.

The female population in Sydney was more multicultural than the rest of the state, with a significantly larger proportion born overseas (35 percent in Sydney compared to just over 11 percent in regional NSW). Since 2006, Sydney’s overseas-born female population has grown by 3 percentage points, while there has been little change in the rest of NSW. Thirty eight percent of women in Sydney spoke a language other than English at home compared with 9 percent of women in the rest of NSW. Since 2006 the number of women who spoke a language other than English at home increased by 8 percentage points in Sydney (30 to 38 percent) and 4 percentage points in the rest of NSW (5 to 9 percent). See Table 1.3.

The cultural diversity of NSW is also shown by the number of women whose parents were born overseas. In 2011, close to 45 percent of women had one or both parents born overseas (an increase of 2.6 percent since 2006 and 3.8 percent since 2001). Of those women who indicated that one or both of their parents were born overseas, 6.3 percent indicated their father, 4.2 percent their mother and 34 percent indicated that both of their parents were born overseas.

Over the last 60 years there has been a shift in the overseas countries in which immigrant women living in NSW were born. Eighty-six percent of overseas-born women who are currently living in NSW and arrived prior to 1951 were born in Europe. In contrast close to two-thirds of overseas-born women who arrived in the period between 1992 and 2011 were born in Asia. See Table 1.4.2

In 2010-11, 34,500 female immigrants (32 percent of the Australian total and proportional to NSW’s population share) gave NSW as their intended state of residence. The number of men was 31,000. In 2011-12, this increased by 4.6 percent to 36,300 women, and by 8.7 percent to 33,700 men.3 Just under two-thirds of these women were overseas arrivals. The remaining 36 percent were women already in Australia on temporary visas who had been granted permanent resident status.

Table 1.3 Cultural diversity and distribution, women in NSW and Australia, 2011

 

Population composition 

NSW breakdown 

Australia 

NSW 

Sydney 

Balance of state 

Total women 

10,873,706

3,508,779

2,229,453

1,279,326

Born overseas 

2,699,981

911,525

770,959

140,566

Main English speaking countries 

948,833

241,294

169,285

72,009

Other countries 

1,751,148

670,231

601,674

68,557

Speaks a LOTE* at home 

2,511,993

965,450

846,241

119,209

Percentage of total women 

100

100

100

100

Born overseas 

24.8

26

34.6

11

Main English speaking countries 

8.7

6.9

7.6

5.6

Other countries 

16.1

19.1

27

5.4

Speaks a LOTE at home 

23.1

27.5

38

9.3

Note: Main English speaking countries comprise the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, USA and South Africa. *Language other than English.

Population: All NSW women.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing 2011.

Table 1.4 Countries of origin of women living in NSW by period of arrival

Note: For those who arrived between 1992 and 2011 the category other is split evenly between Asian and non-Asian countries of birth.

Population: All NSW women born overseas.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing 2011.


1 ABS Census of Population and Housing 2011.  

2 Sizable populations have arrived from the following countries located in Asia:

China, India, Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Iraq, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal, Japan, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Cambodia, Turkey, Burma, Syria and Saudi Arabia.  

3 Department of Immigration and Citizenship (2012) Overseas arrivals and departures statistics, unpublished data.