During the 19th century, most Indian immigration to Australia consisted of labourers that accompanied British subjects from India. Many worked as hawkers and agricultural labourers. The introduction of theat the turn of the 20th century significantly restricted Indian immigration, except British colonials from India. There was an increased number of British citizens born in India migrating to Australia alongside Anglo-Indians after India gained independence from Britain in 1947. Once Australia relaxed the , a broader range of Indians began arriving, including many professionals such as doctors, engineers and those with technical and computer skills.
Today, the India-born and Indian community is one of the fastest growing in Australia, ranking within the top five migrant populations. In 2011, more than 45% of the India-born population in Australia had arrived in the past five years. As of 2016, over 450,000 India-born people were living in Australia, more than double the number in June 2006.
The most common pathways for Indians to gain permanent Australian residency are through skilled migration, sponsored employment or partner visas. Many Indians with a background in software and programming have gained temporary work or skilled migration visas due to the demand for their skills in Australia. International students from India studying in Australia also contribute to the Indian community. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, over 60,000 Indians studied in Australia in 2016.
Demographic in Australia
The demographics of Indians in Australia reflects the fact that most have arrived as young professionals or workers. For example, the vast majority are aged within the bracket of the young labour force. As of 2011, 60% were between 25 and 44 years of age. Furthermore, the rate of qualifications among Indians is substantially higher than among the total overseas-born population or Australian population. Over 50% of the Indian residents in Australia hold one or more degrees, and almost 80% have some form of higher non-school qualification.
The Indian community in Australia is incredibly diverse. People have come from many parts of India and belong to various religious, linguistic and cultural groups. The vibrant and diverse cultures of India are maintained through a range of organisations, events and festivals throughout the country. Such organisations and activities provide a support network for the Indian community.
English is the most common language spoken at home by the India-born population. Among those who speak a local dialect at home (e.g. Punjabi and Gujarati), 93.3% speak English fluently. The India-born population have also greatly contributed to religious diversity in Australia through the construction of Hindu, Sikh and Jain places of worship and institutions. Of the India-born population in Australia, the 2011 Australian Census indicated that 47.3% identified as Hindu, 18.7% identified as Sikhs, 16.3% identified as Catholic Christians and 3.4% identified as Muslim.