Members of the Australia Bangladesh Council of Victoria celebrating Victory Day, the anniversary of the official creation of the state of Bangladesh.
Image: Australia Bangladesh Council of Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
Question: How many Bangladeshis live in Victoria?
Answer: Victoria is home to a significant and growing population of people of Bangladesh origin. In the 1976 census, only 66 Victorians were born in Bangladesh; in the most recent census in 2006, the community had increased to 3,014 people. Of these, more than half had immigrated in the past five years. Today, around one fifth of Australia’s Bangladeshis live in Victoria, with most living in Melbourne and its suburbs.
The community is linguistically unified, with nine out of ten people speaking Bengali at home. (Bengali is one of the world’s top ten languages, with over 200 million speakers worldwide.) Islam is the main religion in Bangladesh, and around 80% of Victorians from Bangladesh are Muslims. There are also significant numbers who profess the Hindu (6.7%) and Christian (4.5%) faiths.
Victoria’s Bangladeshis are highly educated: remarkably, 28.1% hold a postgraduate degree, compared with just 2.7% in the state’s total population. There is also a significant number of Bangladeshis undertaking university studies in Victoria as international students.
Bangladesh and Australia have enjoyed good relations since the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. In fact, Australia was the fourth country (and the first “developed” country) to formally recognise the newly-declared nation state. This positive relationship continues today, with the two countries sharing several bilateral agreements – as well as a close interest in cricket!
As Victoria’s Bangladesh-born population continues to grow, the profile of the community and its language is increasing. Already the group is supported by a range of community organisations, and a weekly SBS radio program broadcasts in Bengali.