Romanian Culture

Romanians in Australia

Migration History

Romanians began migrating to Australia in significant numbers following World War II under the Displaced Persons program. During this time (1947-1954), the Romanian population in Australia increased by almost 3,000 people.1 The next major influx occurred over the mid-1970s and 1980s as many Romanians fled the repressive Ceauşescu government and the hardships caused by its policies. Romania’s borders were closed at this time, so many had to travel illegally. Some fled to migration camps in Serbia where they were granted assisted passage to Australia. 


Immigration to Australia continued after the fall of Ceauşescu’s regime in 1989 as economic conditions continued to be difficult into the 1990s. In total, the Romanian population in Australia almost tripled over a twenty-year period from 1976 to 1996 (from 4,612 people to 12,280).2 It was one of the fastest growing European migration groups during this time.

 

Romanian migration has slowed since the 1990s. As of the 2016 census, there were 14,392 Romanian-born residents in Australia. Today, migration pathways are generally only available to more privileged Romanians (often from the middle class or upper class) that hold higher education qualifications. Most Romanians that arrive in Australia come on skilled migrant visas or student visas. They tend to be selected for visas on the basis of strong English proficiency, education levels and their professional field of work. Those who choose to migrate permanently often cite Australia’s political environment and less corruption as a reason for staying.

 

Community in Australia

Many Romanian Australians maintain a strong cultural connection with their homeland through their church. This is especially relevant for older Romanians. There are numerous Romanian organisations established throughout Australia in connection with Orthodox, Baptist and Pentecostal churches. Almost all first-generation Romanians report attending church on Sundays, often socialising with the community after as well. 


The Romanian population is aging quite rapidly in comparison to some other migrant groups. However, being a smaller community, families may not always have access to ethno-specific aged services. As a result, elders may rely on their children quite heavily to navigate the Australian system. English proficiency is also lower among the older Romanian generation, increasing the reliance on younger family members. Romanian community clubs or churches often provide informal social services for families in these situations. 

 

Younger Romanian-born Australian residents have a high rate of completion of university studies. Many have successfully established themselves in a range of professional fields, such as engineering and IT. However, some Romanians may face difficulties as their qualifications achieved in Romania are not always recognised in Australia.


Some Romanians report experiencing difficulties when initially adjusting to Australian culture. In Romania, people generally know many people in their community (whether it be a city or village) and socialise with their neighbours on a daily basis. Many individuals report feeling socially isolated from the Australian public in comparison, especially those living in outer suburban areas. It should also be noted that those Romanians who have been settled and acculturated to Australia for decades may have a different understanding of cultural customs than those born and living in Romania today. 


Ethnic Minorities

The Romanian-born population in Australia also includes ethnic minorities, such as ethnic Hungarians, Germans and Roma (see Ethnic Composition in Core Concepts). In the 2016 Australia census, 23.8% of people born in Romania indicated an ancestry other than Romanian, with 9.5% identifying ethnic Hungarian heritage. However, some Romanian Australian community leaders estimate that as many as half of all Romania-born migration is ethnic Hungarian. 


Hungarians and Romanians living in Australia generally share a positive relationship, frequently interacting with each other at community events. Hungarian families are less likely to be involved with Romanian Orthodox community groups, often gravitating towards organisations that cater to their ethnic or religious identity (most Hungarian Australians identify as Catholics). It is reported that many Roma in Australia believe they face less harassment and discrimination in Australia in comparison to Europe.3


1 Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2014

2 Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2014

3 Lee, 2001

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