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Myanmar Community

Myanmar Society in Australia

Myanmar Society in Australia

Historical Background

The first Myanmar people to settle in Australia were the so called 'Anglo-Burmese'. The Anglo-Burmese were of Myanmar and European descent, and emerged as a distinct community through relations between the British and other European settlers and the indigenous peoples of Myanmar. Myanmar was administered by the British from 1886 as Burma. Following independence from Britain in 1948 and the rise of nationalism, employment for the AngloBurmese became difficult forcing many to leave Myanmar. Between 1947 and 1959, about 3500 AngloBurmese settled in Australia. Following the 1962 military takeover of the Myanmar government, a further 2500 Anglo-Burmese settled in Australia between 1965 and 1972. Numbers grew significantly due to the intake of Myanmar people under the Migration Refugee Special Humanitarian Programme. By 1991, the Census recorded 8223 Myanmar-born people in Australia. Since 1988, more Myanmar people left the country due to ethnic tensions and government oppression. An estimated one million Myanmar people fled to neighbouring countries, predominantly Thailand. Significant numbers have arrived in Australia as refugees, often after long stays in refugee camps. Myanmar Australian communities are ethnically diverse, each with their own unique dialects, beliefs and customs, reflecting the ethnic makeup of Myanmar. Members of Myanmar communities have tended to self identify based on ethnicity. More than half of the Myanmar-born have arrived after 2006 and numbers continue to grow.

2016 Census

Geographic Distribution

The latest Census in 2016 recorded 32,655 Myanmar-born people in Australia, an increase of 50.1 per cent from the 2011 Census.

The 2016 distribution by State and Territory showed Victoria had the largest number with 10,973 followed by Western Australia (8,704), New South Wales (7,128) and Queensland (3,172).