Prior to the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the Iranian population in Australia was very small and mostly consisted of oil service workers. At the spark of the revolution (1979) and the Iran-Iraq War (1980), Australia opened up an assisted humanitarian program. This was particularly targeted to protect religious minorities (such as Bahá’ís or Jews) from religious persecution. Many elites and professionals also left Iran during this time as well as around the political and economic hardship in the late ’80s and early ’90s. When this conflict concluded, migration decreased but remained steady throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The biggest influx of Iranian arrived recently between 2007 and 2011.
Lately, the Iranians immigrating to Australia have mostly been intellectuals who criticise the Islamic Republic for suppressing free thought, other political opponents of the government, members ofminorities, and some young men who deserted from the military or sought to avoid conscription. Many have also immigrated under the Skilled and Family Reunion Streams to be with their families in Australia.
Most Iranian-born residents in Australia speak Persian at home (71%). The Iranian population in Australia continues to be majority non-Muslim (63.2% as of 2011). Another distinctive characteristic of the Iranian population is that the rate of qualifications among Iranians is substantially higher than among the total overseas-born population or Australian population. Approximately 40% of the Iran-born in Australia hold one or more degrees – commonly from Iranian or Western universities.