Zimbabweans have migrated to Australia quite steadily over the past few decades. Those that arrived during the 20th century were mostly white Zimbabweans of British ancestry. However, ongoing economic difficulty has prompted higher migration in recent years. The 2016 census revealed that approximately half of Australia’s Zimbabwe-born population arrived prior to 2007 (56.4%).1 This influx of migration has included increasing numbers of native Zimbabweans, mostly seeking a better economic or educational advantage.
It is important to recognise that the Zimbabweans migrating to Australia are generally from a privileged, urbanised 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 Zimbabweans who have immigrated as being ‘poor’, ‘needy’ or ‘undereducated’. Generally, they have been arriving as skilled migrants. The 2016 census found 77.7% of Zimbabweans living in Australia held some kind of higher qualification.2 There is also high English proficiency, with 98.4% of Zimbabweans in Australia speaking it well.3 Indeed, as a result of British rule and education in the country, many Zimbabweans speak English very eloquently.
The Zimbabwean community in Australia is not particularly close when compared to other African migrant communities. However, they generally maintain strong ties with people back in Zimbabwe. It is considered quite prestigious to live in Australia; hence, Zimbabweanmay have many friends or relatives asking for them to send money home.