Lao Culture

Lao in Australia

The first Lao migrants arrived in Australia under the Colombo Plan between the 1960s and 1970s. After completing their studies, many were granted permanent residency. However, in the mid-1970s, the establishment of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) and the end of the wars in the former Indochina led many refugees to flee Laos. By 1982, it is estimated that nearly 300,000 people had left the country. Most Lao who fled during this time went to refugee camps in Thailand, with some staying for up to eight years before settling in a receiving country.

Those who immigrated to Australia during the rise of the Lao PDR came under the community refugee settlement scheme, which enabled Lao immigrants to settle directly within various communities, as opposed to temporarily living in migrant hostels. Between 1985 and the early 1990s, most Lao migrants came under the family migration scheme.

Since 1991, the Laos-born population in Australia has remained relatively stable. Most arrivals from Laos come as skilled migrants, temporarily as students or to be reunited with family. Today, many older-generation Lao in Australia tend to speak an older version of the Lao language and have a low English proficiency. In turn, their children often assist their parents with interpretations. There are also various social and cultural community organisations that support the Lao community in Australia, such as the Lao-Australian Welfare Association. 


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