Multiculturalism in Melbourne

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By Kris Phillips

The city of Melbourne is the home, workplace, and leisure centre of the world, it’s one of the world’s most harmonious and culturally diverse city’s, with many people migrating to it.

Melbourne has its fair share of ethnic diversity; it is home to residents from about 180 different countries, speaks about 233 different languages and dialects and follows close to 116 different religious faiths. Melbourne has the second largest Asian population in Australia, which includes Indian and Sri Lankan communities.

From the first European settlement to the gold rush ages, the first settlers were the British and Irish (pre gold rush era) who supplied most migrants up until World War II. Melbourne then transformed in the 1850’s with the discovery of gold in August 1852 and the city’s population increased by up to 25% with a rough estimate of about 40,000 people arriving – A large number of German, Chinese and Americans were found on the goldfields and surrounding. Post World War II Melbourne experienced inflows from the Mediterranean and Balkan, mainly from Greece, Italy, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Lebanon, Cyprus and Turkey. According to the 2006 census, 47% of Greek Australians live in Melbourne.

In different parts of Melbourne there can be a specific group of people from a particular culture, and they are usually associated with the suburb in which they first settled in, for example: Italians are associated with the suburbs of Carlton and Brunswick, Greeks are associated with Oakleigh, Northcote and along the northern suburbs, Turkish are associated with Broadmeadows and its surrounding areas, and the Vietnamese are associated within Richmond, Footscray and St Albans, just to name a few.

Melbourne also has a vast majority of different religious views, with a 2006 census finding 28% of Melbournians stating their religion as Catholic, followed by no religion, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and the Uniting church, and Buddhists, Muslims, Jewish and Hindus accounting for 7.5%. Melbourne is also home to the largest number of holocaust survivors of any Australian city, it has the highest per capita concentration outside of Israel itself. St Kilda grew as a centre for Melbourne’s growing Jewish and orthodox communities. Café Scheherazade on Acland Street was a popular icon for many years to the community, however as the community moved more eastwards, towards Caulfield, it became more of a historic interest. There are still Jewish neighbourhoods in East St Kilda but mainly of older and more orthodox people.

The Melbourne statistical division has grown since 2003 by about 50,000 per year and with that is outpacing Sydney by attracting the largest proportion of international overseas immigrants (roughly about 48,000) and people from interstate due to its more affordable living and housing costs. By 2026 the projected estimation of Melbourne’s population will be approximately just over 5 million and some say that it will surpass Sydney by the year 2030. Now that you know just how diverse Melbourne really is, maybe its time for you to go out and enjoy the beautiful place we live in, time to experience the beautiful cuisines and cultures of that there are so many of in Melbourne.

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