Asian Immigration Changing Melbourne’s Face

Asian immigration changing Melbourne's face

John Masanauskas
Article from: Herald Sun
August 24, 2007 12:00am

SETTLERS from Asia are transforming Melbourne's suburbs amid a migration boom in recent years, new Census figures show.

More than 182,000 migrants, including 47,000 people born in China and India, have poured into the city over the past five years.

Suburbs such as Clayton and Dandenong have become Little Delhis and Beijings, with new arrivals joining established communities.

By contrast, the number of Australian-born residents in those areas has sharply declined over the same time.

Last year, the Indian-born population in the City of Monash was up 54 per cent on the 2001 Census, according to the previously unpublished ABS figures. A similar increase was found in the City of Greater Dandenong, while the leafy eastern suburbs of Boroondara Council welcomed 2620 Indians, an 80 per cent jump over five years.

Indian migrant Muralai Shastri, 38, settled in Clayton with his family in 2005 in the footsteps of his sister.

The business development manager said he and wife Lakshmi were very happy.

“We like the opportunities, the great education system and the wonderful lifestyle, especially for our son,” he said. “We feel at home, we get everything available in India like the food, and there is a community from our home region of Karnataka.

“I have quite a few Aussie friends . . . they have helped me a lot.”

Monash Mayor Tom Morrissey said the migrant mix had made the area more vibrant.

“It's an enjoyable place to live,” he said. “There are no major tensions whatsoever.”

About 24,000 Chinese, including those born in Hong Kong, have made Melbourne their home since 2001.

The Chinese have knocked off the British-born as the top migrant group in the City of Whitehorse, which includes Box Hill, Blackburn and Mitcham. The Chinese-born also top the list in Monash and the City of Manningham, which includes Doncaster, Bulleen and Templestowe.

The biggest concentration of Vietnamese-born is in Brimbank Council, comprising about 9 per cent of the population in suburbs like Sunshine and St Albans.

But the number of Vietnamese in traditional community areas such as Richmond and Collingwood is dropping, with the British-born displacing them as top migrant group.

Suburbs such as Broadmeadows have seen a big jump in the Iraqi population, while significant Malaysian communities are developing in council areas such as Monash and Melbourne.

While the intake from traditional sources in southern Europe is at a trickle, the ageing Italian and Greek-born are holding their own in Preston, Brunswick and Oakleigh.

A significant Sudanese community is developing in Greater Dandenong, with 1656 people at the 2006 Census.

The number of Australian-born had fallen in several areas since 2001, most notably Monash and Greater Dandenong (both down 5 per cent).

Monash University population expert Dr Bob Birrell said the exodus from Dandenong was probably due to the consolidation of migrants in the area, but the situation for Monash was not so clear-cut.

“It's more likely to reflect the very high attraction of established settlement points in Monash for middle-class migrants,” Dr Birrell said.

He said Melbourne's ethnic landscape was changing rapidly. It lured about a quarter of the 160,000 migrants who came to Australia in 2006-07.