Thepopulation in Australia has grown steadily, but remains relatively small. Most Colombians relatively recently, with 39.6% having arrived between 2012 and 2016 and 27.3% having arrived between 2007 and 2011.1 The majority of Colombian migrants to Australia are of descent and speak Spanish. They are generally quite a young community, with most under the age of 35 (66% as of the 2011 census).2 Their age has influenced their reason for migration, which is commonly to build their skill set, educationally, professionally or culturally.
Colombians often migrate to Australia due to personal reasons, such as seeking economic prosperity, career options, study opportunities and a pathway to improve their English. A lot of Colombian migration is often temporary, with many arriving on student or working holiday visas. Despite common presumptions, the issue of violence in their home country is rarely a motivating factor. As permanent migration is difficult to secure, the goal is often to improve their skill set and bring back the knowledge they have learnt to open up opportunities back in Colombia.
Colombians living in Australia commonly face barriers as employers tend to avoid hiring migrants on short-term visas or student visas. Hence, many Colombians struggle to find a job in their field of employment despite living in Australia for multiple years. They may have to work in jobs below their skill level instead. As of 2011, 32% of employed Colombians worked in clerical or service positions. However, more worked in managerial, professional or associate roles (35%).3
Most Colombians in Australia maintain a very strong connection to their family and home, often visiting frequently. Only 4.2% have one or both parents living in Australia, indicating they are often the first generation in their family to migrate from their country of origin. This speaks to the intrepid nature of the general demographic of Colombians in Australia, and perhaps partially explains the temporary nature of most of their stays.
The 2016 Australian census reported that 67.5% of Colombians living in Australia identified as Catholic whilst 17.4% did not identify with a religion. Christianity (left undefined) was the next biggest religious affiliation (5.8%), followed by the Pentecostal Church (1.9%). A further 4.4% identified with some other religion or variation of Christianity.4
1 Department of Home Affairs, 2016
2 Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2015
3 Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2015
4 Department of Home Affairs, 2016