The Sudan-born Community

Historical Background

Before 2001, the Sudan-born arriving in Australia were mainly skilled migrants. By 2001, when the Census recorded 4910 Sudan-born in Australia, more than 98 per cent had arrived under the Humanitarian Program.

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

On 9 July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan became independent from the Republic of Sudan. Consequently, country of birth figures as completed by individuals at the time of the 2011 Census may not fully reflect this change.


Geographic Distribution

The latest Census in 2011 recorded 19 369 Sudan-born people in Australia, an increase of 1.7 per cent from the 2006 Census. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed Victoria had the largest number with 6085 followed by New South Wales (5629), Western Australia (2722) and Queensland (2582).

Age and Sex

The median age of the Sudan-born in 2011 was 28 years compared with 45 years for all overseas-born and 37 years for the total Australian population.

The age distribution showed 17.1 per cent were aged 0-14 years, 25.4 per cent were 15-24 years, 39.9 per cent were 25-44 years, 14.4 per cent were 45-64 years and 3.2 per cent were 65 years and over.

Of the Sudan-born in Australia, there were 9837 males (50.8 per cent) and 9534 females (49.2 per cent). The sex ratio was 103.2 males per 100 females.


In the 2011 Census, the top ancestry responses* that Sudan-born people reported were Sudanese (9956), African, so described (1343) and Egyptian (932).

In the 2011 Census, Australians reported around 300 different ancestries. Of the total ancestry responses*, 17 186 responses were towards 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 Sudan-born people in Australia were Arabic (10 501), Dinka (3974) and English (1117).

Of the 18 255 Sudan-born who spoke a language other than English at home, 79.7 per cent spoke English very well or well, and 16.9 per cent spoke English not well or not at all.


At the 2011 Census the major religious affiliations amongst Sudan-born were Catholic (6492), Anglican (3166) and Islam (3097).

Of the Sudan-born, 0.9 per cent stated 'No Religion' which was lower than that of the total Australian population (22.3 per cent), and 3 per cent did not state a religion.


Compared to 62 per cent of the total overseas-born population, 19.6 per cent of the Sudan-born people in Australia arrived in Australia prior to 2001.

Among the total Sudan-born in Australia at the 2011 Census, 61.1 per cent arrived between 2001 and 2006 and 14.6 per cent arrived between 2007 and 2011.

Median Income

At the time of the 2011 Census, the median individual weekly income for the Sudan-born in Australia aged 15 years and over was $294, 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, 43.9 per cent of the 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 Sudan-born aged 15 years and over, 29.7 per cent were still attending an educational institution. The corresponding rate for the total Australian population was 8.6 per cent.


Among Sudan-born people aged 15 years and over, the participation rate in the labour force was 49 per cent and the unemployment rate was 25.4 per cent. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 65 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively.

Of the 5594 Sudan-born who were employed, 25.5 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.
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