Few Iranians settled in Victoria in the nineteenth century, with only seven recorded in the 1891 census
. The community began to grow significantly in the decades after World War II, with service workers from the oil industry among the first to settle. By 1976, 390 Iran-born people lived in Victoria.
The fall of the monarchy in Iran in 1979 precipitated a large increase in the number of Iranians settling in Victoria. The monarchy was overtaken by an Islamic government, determined to stop the increasing westernisation of Iran and the weakening of Islam. The situation in Iran deteriorated with the outbreak of an eight-year war between Iraq and Iran in 1980.
In 1981 Australia developed a special Humanitarian assistance program for Baha’i fleeing persecution in Iran. By 1988, some 2,500 Iran-born immigrants
had arrived in Australia under this and other immigration categories including the Skilled Stream of Australia’s Migration Program. The Iran-born population in Victoria almost quadrupled during the 1980s, from just 583 in 1981 to 2,230 a decade later. Many were professionals and Western-educated.
The population increased more slowly during the 1990s. The 2006 census
recorded 4,432 Iran-born Victorians. These recent arrivals largely immigrated under the Skill and Family Reunion Streams.
Today the majority of Victoria’s Iran-born community live in the municipalities of Manningham and Whitehorse and many are employed as professionals. Iran-born Victorians have a higher proportion of bachelor and postgraduate degrees than the population of Victoria as a whole. They are predominately Muslim (35%) and Baha’i (27%). Iranian culture is supported through the activities of organisations including the Iranian Society of Victoria and the Iranian Cultural School in East Doncaster.