Greek Australians marching in the Australia Day parade in Melbourne (2014)
|99,939 (by birth, 2011),
378,270 (by ancestry, 2011)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland|
|Australian English, Greek|
|Predominantly Orthodox Christianity and No religion.|
Greek immigration to Australia began in the early colonial period in the 19th century. The first known Greeks are believed to have arrived in 1829. These Greeks were seven sailors convicted of piracy by a British naval court and were sentenced to transportation to New South Wales. Though eventually pardoned, two of those seven Greeks stayed and settled in the country. They settled In the Monaro Plains in southern New South Wales. Their names were Andronicas and Jigger Bulgaris. Andro eventually went back to Greece a single man but Jigger stayed and married a local native Australian woman from the Tinderry ranges near Michelago and fathered many half-cast Greek-Australian children. Jigger was buried at Nimmitabel Pioneer Cemetery Hellenic Club of Canberra laid a commemorative piece of marble over his resting place around 2000. The first known free Greek migrant to Australia was Katerina Georgia Plessos (1809–1907), who arrived in Sydney with her husband Major James Crummer in 1835. They married in 1827 on the island of Kalamos where Crummer, the island's commandant met the young refugee from the Greek independence wars. She is thought to be one of the last people to speak to Lord Byron. They lived in Sydney, Newcastle and Port Macquarie where she is buried. They had 11 children. The first wave of free Hellenic migrants commenced in the 1850s and continued through the end of the 19th century, prompted in part by the recent discovery of gold in the country. A young Greek immigrant born in his native Lemnos, Greece named Georgios Tramountanas (1822 – 29 January 1911) and anglicised as George North in 1858, was the first settler of Greek origin in South Australia. The Greek community of South Australia regards North (Tramountanas) as their Pioneering Grandfather. In 1901, the year of federation, the Australian census recorded 878 native Greeks that were born there (In Greece), now living in Australia. Many of these Greeks were owners of or were employed in shops and restaurants. Some were also cane-cutters in Queensland.
From the last decade of the 19th century until WWI the number of Greeks Immigrating to Australia increased steadily and Hellenic communities were reasonably well established in Melbourne and Sydney at this time. The Greek language press had begun in Australia and in 1913, Australia had the first Greek weekly newspaper that was published in Melbourne. During WWI Greece remained neutral, eventually joining the side of the Allies. In 1916 the Australian government responded to this by placing a special prohibition on the entry of Greeks and Maltese people to Australia that was not lifted until 1920. There were a number of anti-Greek outbursts as a result of the neutrality stance by Greece, often instigated by Australian soldiers on leave. During these outbursts Greek shops or cafes were badly damaged or destroyed, with the worst rioting occurring in Kalgoorlie and Boulder.
During the interwar period, the number of Greeks migrating to Australia increased substantially. Some Greeks who settled in Australia were expelled from Asia Minor after the Greek military defeat by Turkey in 1922 while other Greeks sought entry after the USA established restrictive immigration quotas in the early 1919. From 1924 until 1936 a series of regulations operating in Australia severely restricted the number of Greeks permitted to immigrate to and settle in Australia.
Greece entered WWII with the Allies and was invaded by German and Italian forces who remained in Greece until 1944. When troops withdrew a struggle broke out between pro and anti-communist factions which resulted in civil war between 1946 and 1949, ending with the defeat of the communists.
The Greek government encouraged post-war migration as a way of solving poverty and unemployment problems, with the most favoured destination being West Germany although large numbers also went to the United States of America, Canada and Australia. Post WWII in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Greeks were among one of the main European races picked by the Australian government's "Populate or Perish" immigration scheme and due to this, thousands of Greeks migrated to Australia with just one purpose and that was to gain a better life and future for themselves and their families. The main destinations where these "Hellenes" immigrated were to cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. During these decades, the Greeks started making an impact in the country like never before, they were not only still establishing their own restaurants, this time they were also establishing their own Hellenic Community Clubs and Greek-Australian Soccer clubs. Greeks along with Italians, Croatians, Maltese, Serbians, Jews, Hungarians, Slovaks, Czechs etc. really made a stamp on Australian sport in general by forming some of the greatest and most successful Association football clubs that Australian football has ever had and in the Greek communities case, the most successful Australian clubs with Greek heritage and culture are the inventions of South Melbourne Hellas (South Melbourne FC) founded in 1959, Pan-Hellenic (Sydney Olympic FC) founded in 1957 and West Adelaide Hellas (West Adelaide SC) founded in 1962. All three clubs were founded by Greek immigrants that immigrated to those respective cities. Since then, the rest of the 20th century from 1970-1999, Greek immigration to Australia very much declined and Greek immigrants were very few and not many of them came to settle in Australia during the rest of the century. The main way the Greek population was increasing greatly during this time was through the birth of either full, half or part Australian-born Greek descendants who are children (2nd Generation) and grandchildren(3rd Generation) of the Greek immigrants who came in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
After the changes in Greece from the mid 1970s, including the fall of the Papadopoulos regime in 1974 and the formal inclusion of Greece into the European Union, Greek immigration to Australia has slowed since the 1971 peak of 160,200 arrivals. Within Australia, the Greek immigrants have been "extremely well organised socially and politically", with approximately 600 Greek organisations in the country by 1973, and immigrants have strived to maintain their faith and cultural identity.
Since the year 2000, Greek Immigration to Australia has slowed down. However, in the years 2000-2009, many Greek-Australians both native Greek and Australian-born, returned to Greece to discover their homeland and reconnect with their ancestral roots. Yet, as the economic crisis in Greece grew, the opportunities for temporary resident Greek Australian's abroad were at risk. For this reason many Greek Australians have shortened their planned long term stays in Greece and have returned home to Australia.
According to census data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2006, Greek-Australian citizens are mainly Christian by religion, with 95.3% of Greece-born persons identifying with that religion. 1.6% identified with no religion or atheism, and a further 1.1% identified with other religions, while 1.9% did not answer the census question on religion.
In 2011, the Greek language was officially spoken at home by 252,211 Australian residents, a 4.125% decrease from the 2001 census data. However, it is widely known that many of the younger generations - while acknowledging their Hellenic heritage - call themselves Australians, first. hence the data is under what we would see if we took a deeper look into the community at large. Greek is the fifth most commonly spoken language in Australia after English, Chinese, Arabic and Italian.
The latest Census in 2011 recorded 99 939 Greece-born people in Australia, a fall of 9.1 per cent from the 2006 Census. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed Victoria had the largest number with 49 992 followed by New South Wales (31 546), South Australia (9756) and Queensland (3441).
Professor Manuel Aroney - organic chemistry