The first Afghan people to arrive in Australia during the 1860s were cameleers, entering Australia with travelling papers obtained while working in British India. They worked in nearly all areas of transportation including exploration, mining and the supply of provisions to homesteads. Few settled in Victoria: in 1901, the Afghan population included only eight males and no females.
With the introduction of cars and trucks into Australia during the 1920s, the Afghan cameleers became redundant. Some returned to Afghanistan, while others became small property owners.
The second group of Afghan immigrants
arrived in Australia following the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. Over two million Afghans fled Soviet attacks on hospitals, schools and mosques. Australia accepted a small number as refugees
, increasing the Afghanistan-born population to almost 1,000 during the early 1990s. The majority settled in Victoria and New South Wales.
Following the Soviet withdrawal, factional fighting led to the emergence of the Taliban, which imposed strict Islamic religious controls on the population. On-going civil war supported by external countries caused more Afghans to flee. Some were accepted by Australia as refugees
. A severe drought in 2000 saw several hundred more Afghan asylum-seekers
arrive in Australia by boat. The Afghanistan-born population of Victoria increased from 764 in 1991, to 5246 in 2006.
Victoria is currently home to the second largest Afghan community in Australia outside New South Wales. The majority work in labouring, production and transport. In the 2006 census
the majority were Muslims under the age of 34, living in the Dandenong area. The community is supported by organisations such as the Afghan Australian Welfare Association, who assist new arrivals with employment, housing and other settlement issues.