ABS Chinese New Year insights

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16 February 2018
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)
ABS reveals insights into Australia’s Chinese population on Chinese New Year

Like the fireworks on Sydney Harbour every 31 December, Chinese New Year is one of the most colourful events on the global calendar.

The ABS’s most recent Estimated Resident Population figures show that there are 526,040 Australian residents born in China, up from 387,420 over the previous five years.

In 2016 – the Year of the Monkey – the Census of Population and Housing found that China remains one of the top countries of birth for Australian residents, trailing behind only Australia, England and New Zealand. Over the past 20 years, Chinese-born residents have overtaken other countries of birth, such as Italy, Vietnam and Greece, highlighting changes in Australia’s migration intake.

The 2016 Census found Australia is home to more than 1.2 million people of Chinese ancestry. Of these, two in five (41 per cent) were born in China, with Australia the second most common country of birth (25 per cent) ahead of Malaysia (8.0 per cent) and Hong Kong (6.5 per cent). Four out of five people of Chinese ancestry (82 per cent) did not state another ancestry.

Nearly half of people with Chinese ancestry (46 per cent) speak Mandarin at home, with the other most common languages being Cantonese (22 per cent) and English (18 per cent).

Interestingly, more than half of people with Chinese ancestry (54 per cent) reported that they had no religion, significantly higher than the overall national figure (30 per cent). One quarter (25 per cent) were Christian, while Buddhism was practised by 15 per cent of people with Chinese ancestry. A third (33 per cent) of Buddhists had Chinese ancestry, more than any other ancestral group.

The Australian lifestyle clearly has increasing appeal in China, with approximately half of Australian residents born in China arriving here since 2008. Sydney is the biggest draw, with two out of every five Australian residents born in China (44 per cent) living in the Greater Sydney Area. This area recorded four of the top six suburbs with the most residents born in China – Hurstville (NSW), Melbourne (Vic.), Glen Waverly (Vic.), Burwood (NSW), Campsie (NSW) and Chatswood (NSW).

Australia’s quality universities are another enticing factor, with the highest number of international university students hailing from China; university students make up 22 per cent of all Chinese-born people in Australia.

The relatively young median age of Chinese-born residents (34 years) may have been why the online nature of the 2016 Census was embraced by this community, with 90 per cent of Chinese-born respondents completing the Census online.
Multicultural NSW recently awarded the Australian Bureau of Statistics an Australian Multicultural Marketing Award for its cultural and linguistically diverse 2016 Census campaign.

A wide range of Census and other data comprising key personal and dwelling characteristics can be found on the ABS website, and can be accessed using one of our easy web-based tools such as QuickStats and Community Profiles.