Ladies wear the Somali flag
Ladies wear the Somali flag in the Heliwa district of Mogadishu, Somalia, during the celebration of Somalia's National Flag Day. Source: English: AMISOM Public Information (Flickr) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We have included a profile of the Somali community as Somalia is considered one of the countries of the Arabic speaking world. Although Arabic is one of the official languages of Somalia, Somalis are identified as ethnically Somali and not Arab; the overwhelming majority of Somalis in Australia identify their ancestry as Somali and African, rather than Arab.

The Somali community are a relatively small community and the flow of refugees and migrants from Somalia started in the early 1990s as a result of civil war and dislocation of peoples. More recently, Somalia born migrants have been arriving in Australia as family migrants.

The 2011 Census recorded 5,687 Somalia born in Australia, indicating a steady increase since the 2006 Census in which there were 4,314 Somalia born. Victoria is home to more than half (54%) of Australia’s Somalia born community and large numbers live in the local government areas of Banyule (Heidelberg West, Heidelberg Heights), Melbourne (North Melbourne, Kensington, Carlton), Moonee Valley (Flemington, Ascot Vale, Moonee Ponds), Darebin (Reservoir, Preston, Northcote, Thornbury) and Maribyrnong (Braybrook, Maidstone, Footscray).

The majority of Somalia born people in Victoria speak Somali at home and only small numbers speak English and Arabic at home. The 2011 Census recorded ancestry responses of the Somalia born overwhelmingly as Somali, with some identifying their ancestry as African. The major religious affiliation of Somalis is Islam with over 95% recording such in the 2011 Census.

Although a relatively new and small community in Victoria, the Somalis have established community networks and support groups that promote Somali culture and provide support for cultural and social activities in the community. These include the Somali Community of Victoria and the Somali Cultural Association which supports the community in its religious celebrations. You can locate these organisations in our Directory.

Further Reading & Materials