While Nepalese started arriving in Australia around the 1980s, the numbers were relatively low until recent years. The majority of Nepalese migrants (73.7%) have arrived in the past 10 years. This has seen the Nepalese community become one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in Australia, growing from just over 3,800 people in 2005 to more than 43,500 in 10 years.
It is important to recognise that the Nepalese migrating to Australia are generally from a privileged and educated demographic of their country. The opportunity to migrate is not typically available to the poor or those living in isolated rural areas. Be careful to avoid stereotyping those Nepalis who have immigrated as being ‘poor’ or ‘needy’. The 2016 census found 78.8% of Nepalese living in Australia held some kind of higher qualification.
Over 80% of Nepalese migrants have been arriving under skilled migrant visas for the past 5 years, generally bringing theirwith them.1 Some spouses of those arriving on skilled migrant visas face challenges adjusting to Australia as not all educational qualifications achieved in Nepal may be recognised. This means many have to settle for jobs that are ‘below’ their professional skill set. For example, someone who may have had a degree in Nepal can find themselves being a cleaner in Australia. This can affect people’s sense of pride and self-worth as such occupations are seen as lower-caste jobs in Nepal.
1 Department of Immigration, 2015