Singaporean Australians

Singaporean Australians are Australians of Singaporean descent. As Singapore is a multi-racial country, a Singaporean Australian could either be of Chinese, Malay or Indian descent, the main races of Singapore. According to the 2006 Australian census, 39,969 Australians were born in Singapore[4] while 4,626 claimed Singaporean ancestry, either alone or with another ancestry.[5]

Singaporean Australians
Total population
61,056 (2021)[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide
2016 census
24.8% No religion
18.9% Catholic
9.0% Buddhism
6.8% Muslim
6.4% Protestant[3]
Related ethnic groups

In 2019, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs statistics showed the Singaporean community in Australia had a population of 64,739, with the number including both Australians of Singapore origin and Singaporeans residing in Australia. It is the 2nd largest community of overseas Singaporeans.[2]

Most Singaporeans in Australia consists of high-income expatriate professionals as well as skilled workers, with many still maintaining close ties with Singapore, especially those who continue to retain Singaporean citizenship while having permanent residency in Australia, as well as students.


The number of permanent settlers arriving in Australia from Singapore since 1991 (monthly)

Early years


Singaporean migration began prior to Singapore's independence as a sovereign country in 1965, during Australia's gold rush period (1851–1914). At the time, Singapore was a British colony, and so was Australia. Therefore, movements within the former British Empire's territories in the then known "Far East" were relatively common.[6]

However, Asian immigration to Australia at the time was generally restricted due to the White Australia policy, and so most immigration at this time were people of European or half-European descent (Eurasian), especially British.[6]

20th century


Island transfers


In 1955 and 1958 respectively, the territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands were transferred from Singapore to Australia. As a result, its inhabitants went from conventional Singaporeans to one that is considered to be Singaporean Australians. In the lead up to the transfer, there were some opposition by several legislative members in Singapore who felt that they weren't properly consulted on the matter.[7]

Then Chief Minister of Singapore, Lim Yew Hock, also raised concerns with regards to the citizenship and employment of the islanders. However, the British, who at the time had still managed Singapore's foreign affairs until 1963, still eventually transferred the island over to Australia after claiming that it had addressed certain of the issues.



In the 1960s, as the Australian government began to loosen policies on immigration after the end of the White Australia policy; Australia became a popular choice for Singaporean students to study due to its relatively close distance.

In the late 1980s, it was recorded that 16,400 Australians were of Singaporean origin and it was also during this period of time that Australian universities began having sizeable communities of Singaporean students, recording 1,266 students being enrolled.[8]

In 1995, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs reported that there were 29,812 people within the Singaporean Australian community, with students accounting for about 40% of population, as the Australian Census of 1996 recorded about 11,000 students from Singapore enrolled in universities in the country. By 1998, the population was estimated to have grown to 35,933 people.[2][8] With the increase in the population of Singaporeans in Australia, a number of Singaporean clubs and associations were set up to support the communities located across the country.[9]

21st century


From 2005 to 2010, the population of the community had increased from 43,070 to 53,550 and it was during this period that the Singapore government had set up an Overseas Singaporean unit to engage overseas communities of Singaporeans as the number of Singaporeans living aboard increased.[10] Singaporean associations and clubs were also allowed to apply for funding through the unit to organise events during important festivals such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali, Vesak Day, Christmas, Good Friday and New Year's Day which are celebrated by the different major racial and religious groups back in Singapore.[9]

Factors for Singaporeans in Australia remained the same, with a majority of them there for education.[11] In recent years, however, more Singaporean students would often return to Singapore after completing their studies as the Australian government introduced stricter policies on immigration, as well as Singapore being an attractive place itself to live and work, with many Singaporean students not seeing the need to remain in Australia after the completion of their studies.[12]


People born in Singapore as a percentage of the population in Sydney divided geographically by postal area, as of the 2011 census

In 1996, most of the Singaporean communities were concentrated in Western Australia, New South Wales, Sydney and Victoria.[8] The state of Victoria had a sizeable community of Singaporeans or Singapore-born Australians, with 6,557 individuals that were of Singaporean origin. In 2001, that number increased to 7,661, with most of them residing in Melbourne.

The community had Singaporeans of mixed ethnicities, with most of them being Chinese Singaporeans, followed by Malay Singaporeans and Indian Singaporeans, which echoed the diverse ethnic make-up of Singapore's population. A variety of languages was spoken at home by the community, with 40% speaking Mandarin and other Chinese dialects like Hokkien, 6% speaking Malay and 2% speaking Tamil and the rest speaking English.[10][13]

By 2016, according to the Australian Census, Victoria was home to the highest number of Singaporean Australians, 16,063 people, out of the total of 54,939 in the community. Western Australia was 2nd, being home to 14,987 individuals, followed by New South Wales and Queensland. 47.7% were of Chinese Singaporean ancestry, 8.8% were of Indian Singaporean ancestry and 6.6% were of Malay Singaporean ancestry. English was the home language of 49% in the community, followed by Mandarin at 28.8% and 6% spoke Malay.[14]



Religion of Singaporean Australians[15]

  No religion (32.1%)
  Protestant (25.5%)
  Catholic (18.0%)
  Buddhism (7.9%)
  Islam (7.6%)
  Hinduism (5.8%)
  Other (3.1%)

According to Australian Bureau Statistics in 2016, 24.8% from Singaporean Australians population identifying as Irreligion, 18.9% as Catholic, 9.0% as Buddhist, 6.8% as Muslim and 6.4% as Protestant.

In 2021, 29.8% from Singaporean Australians population identifying as Irreligion, 18.0% as Catholic, 7.9% as Buddhist, 7.6% as Muslim and 6.3% as Other Christian.[16]

Notable people


See also



  1. ^ "The People of Australia – Statistics from the 2011 Census" (PDF). Australian Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "International migrant stock 2019". United Nations. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  3. ^ "2016 People in Australia who were born in Singapore, Census Country of birth QuickStats | Australian Bureau of Statistics".
  4. ^ "20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex – Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 6 January 2010. Total count of persons: 19,855,288.
  5. ^ "20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex – Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 6 January 2010. Total responses: 25,451,383 for total count of persons: 19,855,288.
  6. ^ a b "Immigration History from Singapore to Victoria". Museums Victoria. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  7. ^ "COCOS TRANSFER UNDER FIRE". 11 July 1951. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  8. ^ a b c James, J. (2001). The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins. Cambridge University Press. pp. 683–684. ISBN 9780521807890.
  9. ^ a b Derrick, M.N. (2010). Asia Journal of Global Studies. Universal-Publishers. pp. 38–40. ISBN 9789813016712.
  10. ^ a b Michael, C.H. (2014). Transnationalism and Society: An Introduction. McFarland. p. 96. ISBN 9780786486250.
  11. ^ "Singaporean Culture - Singaporeans in Australia". Cultural Atlas, Australia. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Harder for skilled Singaporeans to live, work overseas". The Straits Times. 2 May 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  13. ^ Gerard S., S. Gunasekaran (1994). Motivations of Migrants from Singapore to Australia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 1–10. ISBN 9789813016712.
  14. ^ "Community Information Summary - Singapore-born" (PDF). Department of Home Affairs, Australia. 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Singaporean Culture - Population Statistics".
  16. ^ "2021 People in Australia who were born in Singapore, Census Country of birth QuickStats | Australian Bureau of Statistics". Retrieved 11 April 2023.


  • Michael, C. Howard (2014), Transnationalism and Society: An Introduction, McFarland, ISBN 9780786486250
  • James, Jupp (2001), The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521807890
  • Derrick, M. Nault (2010), Asia Journal of Global Studies, Universal-Publishers, ISBN 9781599428260
  • Gerard Sullivan, S. Gunasekaran (1994), Motivations of Migrants from Singapore to Australia, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, ISBN 9789813016712
  1. ^ According to the local classification, South Caucasian peoples (Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Georgians) belong not to the European but to the "Central Asian" group, despite the fact that the territory of Transcaucasia has nothing to do with Central Asia and geographically belongs mostly to Western Asia.