At the start of the twentieth century, just 16 Philippines-born people lived in Victoria. For the next fifty years the growth of the community continued to be controlled by Australian immigration and labour policies.
After World War II, the 1949 War-time Refugees
Removal Act forced the deportation of Filipinos and other Asians who had fled Japanese invasions of their homelands. However, the relaxation of the White Australia Policy
in the 1950s saw the arrival of Filipino students under the Colombo Plan
. Some skilled tradesmen and professionals were also recruited from the Philippines to work in Australia.
Filipino immigration increased significantly during the 1970s, from a population of just 467 in 1971 to 3,455 a decade later. The end of the White Australia Policy
in 1973 meant the Filipino immigration was no longer restricted, and the declaration of martial law in the Philippines during the previous year caused many to seek a new life in Australia.
The increase in the Philippines-born population of Victoria between 1981 and 2011 has been one of the most dramatic of any community in Victoria: from 3,455 to 38,004 people. In this period there was a noticeable increase in the migration of Filipino spouses and fiancées under the Family Reunion Program.
The majority of this community are based in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. Around 73% of Philippines-born people in Victoria speak Filipino or Tagalog at home, while 21% speak English. The community is mostly Catholic, and nearly half the population is aged under 40. One quarter of working Filipinos are employed as professionals, while another quarter work in trades, production and transport.