The South Sudan-born Community

Historical Background

The Republic of South Sudan is a new country that became independent from the Republic of Sudan on 9 July 2011.

The South Sudan-born were previously included in the Census count of the Sudan-born, and this is highly likely with a large number in the 2011 Census.

Drought, famine and war resulted in large numbers of Sudan-born and South Sudan-born refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries, and many were resettled in Australia. Arrivals to Australia peaked between 2002 and 2007.


Geographic Distribution

The latest Census in 2011 recorded 3487 South Sudan born people in Australia. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed Victoria had the largest number with 1118 followed by Queensland (715), New South Wales (561) and Western Australia (489).

Age and Sex

The median age of the South Sudan-born in 2011 was 27 years compared with 45 years for all overseas-born and 37 years for the total Australian population.

The age distribution showed 15.5 per cent were aged 0-14 years, 24.9 per cent were 15-24 years, 48.9 per cent were 25-44 years, 10.1 per cent were 45-64 years and 0.6 per cent were 65 years and over.

Of the South Sudan-born in Australia, there were 1979 males (56.7 per cent) and 1509 females (43.3 per cent). The sex ratio was 131.1 males per 100 females.


In the 2011 Census, the top ancestry responses* that South Sudan-born people reported were South Sudanese (2013), Sudanese (562), and African, so described (283).

In the 2011 Census, Australians reported around 300 different ancestries. Of the total ancestry responses*, 4825 responses were towards South Sudanese ancestry.

*At the 2011 Census up to two responses per person were allowed for the Ancestry question; therefore providing the total responses and not persons count.


The main languages spoken at home by South Sudan-born people in Australia were Dinka (1811), Arabic (656) and Nuer (259).Of the 3388 South Sudan-born who spoke a language other than English at home, 80.5 per cent spoke English very well or well, and 16.4 per cent spoke English not well or not at all.


At the 2011 Census the major religious affiliations amongst South Sudan-born were Catholic (1488), Anglican (1222) and Presbyterian and Reformed (238).

Of the South Sudan-born, 0.6 per cent stated 'No Religion' which was lower than that of the total Australian population (22.3 per cent) and 1.7 per cent did not state a religion.


Compared to 62 per cent of the total overseas-born population, 5.6 per cent of the South Sudan-born people in Australia arrived in Australia prior to 2001.

Among the total South Sudan-born in Australia at the 2011 Census, 72.4 per cent arrived between 2001 and 2006 and 18.4 per cent arrived between 2007 and 2011.

Median Income

At the time of the 2011 Census, the median individual weekly income for the South Sudan-born in Australia aged 15 years and over was $272, compared with $538 for all overseas-born and $597 for all Australia born. The total Australian population had a median individual weekly income of $577.


At the 2011 Census, 43.2 per cent of the South Sudan-born aged 15 years and over had some form of higher non-school qualifications compared to 55.9 per cent of the Australian population.

Of the South Sudan-born aged 15 years and over, 34.4 per cent were still attending an educational institution. The corresponding rate for the total Australian population was 8.6 per cent.


Among South Sudan-born people aged 15 years and over, the participation rate in the labour force was 50.7 per cent and the unemployment rate was 28.6 per cent. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 65 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively.

Of the 1028 South Sudan-born who were employed, 18.8 per cent were employed in either a skilled managerial, professional or trade occupation. The corresponding rate in the total Australian population was 48.4 per cent.

Produced by the Community Relations Section of DIAC All data used in this summary is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing. Sources for the Historical Background are available on our website.
© Commonwealth of Australia.

Last updated: