The Sudan-born community although new to Victoria has grown quickly. The Victorian census
first recorded Sudan-born residents in 1991, when 184 were counted. By 2001 this number had grown to almost 1000.
Since Sudan gained independence from joint British-Egyptian administration in 1956 it has been ravaged by drought, famine and war. Sudan has seen regular turnover of governments, many of them military regimes controlled by northern Sudanese interests favouring Islamic-oriented policies. Disputes with largely non-Muslim southern Sudanese over access to power and resources have resulted in two extended periods of civil war. Drought, famine, war damage and limited infrastructure in the south have hindered the return of many Sudanese refugees
who fled to neighbouring countries. Australia has assisted in resettling some of the worst-affected people from the region.
In 2006 the Sudan-born community in Victoria had grown to 6209, making it the fastest growing immigrant
community in Victoria. This is fuelled by a strong family structure which encourages relatives to sponsor one another. Although the Sudanese are often categorised into two major groups - Arab and black African – this disguises ethnic and tribal subdivisions numbering in the hundreds. Here the main language spoken in the home is Arabic (47%), followed by Dinka (25%) and (9%) speak Nuer.
The majority of the community, (83%) is Christian; more than half of those are Catholic. Another 13% of the Sudan-born community is Muslim. The community is young, with 77% under the age of 35. Of those employed, 28% are labourers, 21% are engaged in managerial, professional and associated roles, another 21% are employed in clerical, sales and service roles and 15% are production and transport workers.
More than one quarter of the community live in Greater Dandenong, 20% live in Brimbank and 7% live in Casey. The community is supported by a number of non-profit secular organisations such Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning (SAIL), and is able to access information through the Sudanese Research Centre of Australia.