2011 - The Most Recent Census
The 2011 census counted 5,354,042 people living in Victoria, 68.5% of whom were born in Australia. The largest immigrant community was English-born, with 213,376 people, followed by India-born (111,785), China (93,896), New Zealand (80,237) and Italy (76,906). 57.5% of the population was counted as Christian (Catholic 26.7%, Anglican 12.3%) and 23.9% of Victorians stated they were of no religion.
In 2011 Prime Minister Julia Gillard was heading the Labour Party with a minority government, and the Liberal Party’s Ted Baillieu was Victoria’s Premier.
In 2011, Australian immigration policy continued to be guided by the 1958 Migration Act, which had been frequently amended since it was first introduced. Other acts and conventions also affected immigration policy, including the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act and the 1991 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Australia accepted immigrants from any country, based on their ability to meet criteria determined by Australia’s economic, social and political needs.
From the early 1970s Australia’s immigration levels dramatically reduced. The number of European immigrants has declined, while the number of immigrants from Asian and Middle Eastern countries has increased following the end of the White Australia policy in 1975. However, in 1990 as selection favoured skilled migration and English language proficiency there was a spike in migration from the UK, New Zealand and South Africa. In 2006, the largest group of new arrivals were from South-East Asia and this trend continues in 2011.
In 2011, the Gillard government had signed off on the ‘Malaysia Solution’ that would have had Australia deport 800 asylum seekers to that country in return for resettling 4,000 refugees verified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Shortly after, this was placed on hold then stopped after the High Court of Australia ruled this processing of refugees to be unlawful.
The international student sector has grown to become Australia’s largest service export sector. The largest numbers of students come from China, India and the Republic of Korea. In 2011, about 550,000 students were enrolled in Australian courses, from 190 countries.