Sudanese

Sudanese children

We have included a profile of the Sudanese community as Sudan is considered one of the countries of the Arabic speaking world. Although Arabic is one of the official languages of Sudan, the Sudanese people have many diverse ethnicities who do not identify as Arab and some ethnic groups would reject any association with Arab culture.

It is also important to note that although Sudan is a multilingual country, it is dominated by Sudanese Arabic, which is a dialect of Arabic that has taken on specific local linguistic features. Today, many Arabic speakers from the Middle East and speakers of Sudanese Arabic may find it difficult to communicate with each other effectively.

The Sudan born community of Australia has grown significantly and quickly over the past two decades. There were only a few hundred Sudan born in the 1991 Census and by 2001 there were almost 5,000 in Australia of which more than 98% had arrived as refugees under the Humanitarian Program.

Since Sudan gained independence from British administration in 1956, it has been ravaged by drought, famine and ongoing civil wars which have resulted in large numbers of Sudan born refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries and eventually being resettled to Western countries, including Australia.

After many years of conflict between the largely Muslim population in northern Sudan and largely non-Muslim population in the south, on 9 July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan became independent from the Republic of the Sudan. This was shortly prior to the 2011 Census conducted in Australia in August and consequently, country of birth figures as completed by individuals at the time of the 2011 Census may not fully reflect this change.

The 2011 Census recorded 19,369 Sudan born people in Australia, with the largest number of 6,085 in Victoria, making it the fastest growing immigrant community in Victoria. Many Sudan born people have sponsored other family members to migrate to Australia and have assisted them in their settlement with their own resources.

In Victoria, there are diverse languages spoken amongst the Sudan born and they are represented in the main languages spoken at home in the 2011 Census: Arabic is spoken by 52%, Dinka by 22% and Nuer by 4%. The largest religious affiliation of the Sudan born in Victoria is Christian (78% recorded in the 2011 Census), and are represented by followers of the Catholic, Anglican and Oriental Orthodox Churches. There are also many Sudan born – 16% of the community – who are Muslims.

The largest numbers of Sudan born in Victoria live in the local government areas of Brimbank (St Albans, Sunshine West, Kings Park), Greater Dandenong (Dandenong, Noble Park, Springvale) and Casey (Doveton, Hampton Park Hallam). More recently, increased numbers of Sudan born Victorians have relocated to the local government areas of Wyndham and Melton.

The Sudanese have established community networks and support groups such as the Multicultural Sudanese Centre, which offers an Arabic and Dinka language school aimed at helping Sudanese children maintain contact with family overseas, and provides other educational and support programs.  Further details can be found in our Directory.

Further Reading & Materials