Dutch sailors were among the first Europeans to reach Australia. In fact, most of Australia's coastline was first charted by Dutch mariners. In the post-WWII period, the Netherlands government actively encouraged immigration to help ease housing shortages in the country. In turn, hundreds of thousands of Dutch migrated with almost a third choosing to settle in Australia. Some Dutch also came via Indonesia (a former colony of the Netherlands). The number of Dutch migrating to Australia decreased in the 1960s as the economic situation in the Netherlands improved. Some Dutch chose to return to the Netherlands.
One distinctive aspect of Dutch migration into Australia was their awareness of ‘aanpassen’ (fitting in). In public, most Dutch seemed to deemphasise their social characteristics that could be defined as ‘' by Australians. This became a hallmark of Dutch identity in Australia. Over the last 60 years, the Dutch community in Australia has had a significant impact on the building and construction industry. Dutch culture and community life are maintained by organisations and events. For example, Springvale (a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria) annually hosts the largest Dutch festival in the southern hemisphere, known as the ‘Holland Festival'.
The 2011 census recorded a larger percentage of the Netherlands-born living in Australia to be religious than those that live in the Netherlands. 32.7% identified as Catholic Christians, 9.2% as Presbyterian and Reformed Christians and 21.5% affiliated with another religion, while 31.1% stated that they had no religion.