Woman in Cairo Bazaar
Woman in Cairo Bazaar. Source: David Dennis from Scotts Valley, CA, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Egypt born community in Australia has a long history. Although large numbers of people from Egypt did not migrate to Australia until the post World War II (WWII) period, the Census of 1901 counted 108 Egypt born people living in Australia. From the turn of the century until 1947, this number had increased to 803 and again significantly increased to more than 8,000 Egypt born people living in Australia by 1954. The larger wave of immigrants was to come over the next few decades with the community numbering more than 28,000 in 1971, more than 33,000 by 2001 and the 2011 Census recorded more than 36,000 people born in Egypt now living in Australia.

A large number of migrants born in Egypt who migrated in the post WWII period were people of various ethnic ancestries, including Italians, Greeks, Maltese and Armenians. The political climate of Egypt in the 1950s gave rise to pan-Arab nationalism and the growing political and social unrest compelled many groups who did not identify as ‘Arab’ to leave Egypt and migrate to Western countries, including Australia. Many of these migrants came from highly educated privileged circles of Egypt’s urban and cosmopolitan centres, Alexandria and Cairo. Consequently, once settled in Australia, many Egypt born were employed in professional occupations and their multilingual skills were highly utilised in government departments and interpreter services.

Significant numbers of Coptic Christians of Egypt continued to migrate to Australia during the 1960s and over the next few decades they established their churches and community organisations, including the establishment of Egyptian Coptic Senior Citizen’s groups to support the social needs of ageing community members.

While the largest numbers of Egypt born people in Australia live in New South Wales, the Egypt born community in Victoria numbered at 12,488 in the 2011 Census. The community lives across Melbourne, with large numbers in the north-western and south-eastern suburbs.

The ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity of the Egypt born community is reflected in the 2011 Census. The main languages spoken at home by Egypt born people were Arabic, English and Greek and the top ancestry responses reported by Egypt born people at the 2011 Census were Egyptian, Greek and Italian. The major religious affiliations amongst the Egypt born were Oriental Orthodox, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.

The Egypt born community of Victoria sustains and celebrates their diverse heritage through various community based organisations and groups: the Egyptian Federation of Victoria, the Alexandrian Group (AAHA), the Greek Egyptian Group (EEAMA), the Melita Social Club, and the Coptic Orthodox Church. You can locate these and other groups in our Directory.

Further Reading & Materials