This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "African Australians" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (August 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
African Australians
Total population
326,673 (2021 census)[1]
1.3% of Australia's population
 New South Wales 75,942 (1.02%)
 Queensland 64,112 (1.32%)
 Western Australia 66,744 (2.61%)
 Northern Territory 2,660 (1.08%)
 Victoria 90,640 (1.47%)
 South Australia 17,607 (1.03%)
 Tasmania 3,434 (0.66%)
 Australian Capital Territory 5,504 (1.37%)

African Australians are Australians descended from the any peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa, including naturalised Australians who are immigrants from various regions in Sub-Saharan Africa and descendants of such immigrants. At the 2021 census, the number of ancestry responses categorised within Sub-Saharan African ancestral groups as a proportion of the total population amounted to 1.3%.[1][2]

Large-scale immigration from Africa to Australia is only a recent phenomenon, with Europe and Asia traditionally being the largest sources of migration to Australia. African Australians come from diverse ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious, educational and employment backgrounds.


An agricultural officer from Ghana visiting Queensland under the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan, 1960s

Large-scale immigration from Africa to Australia is only a recent phenomenon, with Europe and Asia traditionally being the largest sources of migration to Australia.[3]

Coins minted by the Tanzanian medieval kingdom of Kilwa Sultanate have been found on the Wessel Islands. They are the oldest foreign artefacts ever discovered in Australia.[4] Other people descended from African emigrants later arrived indirectly via the First Fleet and 19th century multicultural maritime industry. Notable examples are Billy Blue, John Caesar,[5][6] and Black Jack Anderson.[7]

Migrants from Mauritius have also been arriving in Australia since before federation in 1901. They came as convicts, prospectors who sought Victoria's goldfields, or skilled sugar workers who significantly helped to develop Queensland's sugar industry.[8]

Following the 1823 Demerara Slave Rebellion in British Guiana, several hundreds of enslaved Africans who had participated in the rebellion were deported to Queensland, Australia.

The Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan enabled students from British Commonwealth African countries, including from Ghana, to travel to Australia during the mid-1960s. More than 70 percent of those from West African countries remained in Australia following military coup d'états in their countries of birth.[9]

However, immigration from Africa to Australia generally remained limited until the 1990s, thus compared to other established European and American countries, African Australian community remains new in the country itself.[citation needed]

In 2005–06, permanent settler arrivals to Australia included 4,000 South Africans and 3,800 Sudanese, constituting the sixth and seventh largest sources of migrants, respectively.[citation needed]


This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (October 2022)

African Australians are Australians of direct Sub-Saharan African ancestry.[10][11][1] They are from diverse racial, cultural, linguistic, religious, educational and employment backgrounds.[12] The majority (72.6%) of African emigrants to Australia are from southern and eastern Africa.[13] The Australian Bureau of Statistics classifies all residents into cultural and ethnic groups according to geographical origin.[14]

Migration streams

People of South African ancestry whose parents were both born in Australia as a fraction of total residents

Some of the most significant migration streams as of 2011-2012 were as follows:

Broadcasting services for African migrants

Multicultural broadcaster Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) broadcasts in five African languages on radio, including Nuer and Dinka of South Sudan, Swahili of Tanzania and the African Great Lakes region, Tigrinya of Eritrea and Amharic of Ethiopia.[15] Arabic broadcasting began with a 6am service by SBS in 1975, and from 2016, SBS began a year-long trial of SBS Arabic 24, a 24/7 digital radio station and website.[16] It continues today and includes an Arabic24 podcast.[17] An English language program, simply called SBS African (nicknamed the African Hour) was broadcast until 2017, when it was cut from schedule. 2ME Radio Arabic also broadcasts in Arabic throughout Australia.

Social status

As Africans only began to migrate to Australia in larger numbers much later than Africans were brought to the United States as slaves, and those who settled in parts of Europe, African Australian status is largely a new challenge for Australian authorities, and it is acknowledged that widespread racism against Africans is not uncommon in Australia.[18][19] Research on the experience of African Australians began in the 2000s[20] and more has been conducted since the 2010s as more and more Africans, mostly from East Africa, have arrived in the country.[21]

Relationship to Indigenous Australians

Further information: Black Australians

The concept of how the American notion of "blackness" was adopted and adapted by Aboriginal civil rights activists has been little known or understood in the US. In 2011, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in New York mounted an exhibition of Indigenous Australian art, concerned with making connections between the current civil rights and spiritual movements of Indigenous Australians and that of black people in America and elsewhere.[22]

A 2012 study looked at attitudes towards African immigrants in Western Australia, based on a survey of 184 Australians, examining the quantitative data for use in developing strategies to combat prejudice, and the media's role in the development of negative attitudes. It compared the results of the study with those previously found in looking at attitudes towards Indigenous and Muslim Australians.[23]

Natasha Guantai, in response to Roxane Gay's initial implication that the only "black people" in Australia would be of African descent, wrote "In the dominant Australian narrative, blacks are regarded as Aboriginal. This is a narrative with little space for non-Indigenous black Australians". Guantai goes on to highlight some differences in the experience of the various groups - Indigenous Australians, immigrants from Africa, the black descendants of settlers, and black people who arrive from other white-majority countries such as the UK or the US.[24]

In 2018 Kaiya Aboagye, a PhD student of Ghanaian, Aboriginal, South Sea and Torres Strait Islander heritage,[25] underlined the African connection to Aboriginal Australians, citing "long histories of African/Indigenous relationships both inside and outside Australia", despite the many and varied origins and experiences of blackness among peoples in the Global South.[26]

Relationship with the criminal justice system

In 2021, it was reported that African Australians, predominantly of South Sudanese descent, comprised 19 percent of young people in custody in Victoria, despite making up less than 0.5 percent of the overall population. Previously, in 2013 Victoria Police settled a racial profiling complaint lodged by members of the African community by agreeing to review its procedures. A 2020 study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology found that South Sudanese-born individuals were significantly overrepresented in as perpetrators of "crimes against the person", such as robbery and assault, but that "rates for less serious crimes, such as public order and drug offences, have remained stable and relatively low for South Sudanese-born youth".[27]

Organised crime

In 2016, the Liberal Party began to campaign against what it identified as "Sudanese gangs" in Melbourne, following riots at the Moomba Music Festival in the city. This campaign was criticised by local community leaders and the Green party as an attempt to use "race to win votes and whip up hatred". In reality, South Sudanese Australians only commit around 1% of all crimes in Melbourne, which is higher than their share of the population (0.14%), but not unusually so when adjusted for the low average age of the South Sudanese-born population.[28]

In 2018, then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the supposed presence of South Sudanese gangs in Melbourne as a "real concern", with then-Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton claiming that Melburnians were afraid to leave their homes at night due to gang-related violence. Then-Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews rejected Turnbull's comments.[29]

The debate on "African gangs" in Melbourne was a key part in the Victorian Liberal Party's campaign for the 2018 state election under then-Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.[30][31][32]

Criminologists and the police commissioners of Melbourne state that episodes of youth criminality occurring in Melbourne do not amount to "gang activity" or organised crime, according to the definition used by law enforcement.[33][34] The debate around so-called "African gangs" was highly racialised and resulted in many examples of racist discourse on social media, leading Anthony Kelly, executive officer of of Melbourne's Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre, to describe it as a "racialised moral panic".[33] The aftermath of the panic caused black people in Melbourne to fear that they would be arrested simply for congregating in public spaces, with South Sudanese people reporting high levels of targeting by police.[34]

African Australian identity

Main article: African Australian identity

African Australian identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as an African Australian and as relating to being African Australian. As a group identity, "African Australian" can denote pan-African ethnic identity, as well as a diasporic identity in relation to the perception of Africa as a homeland.[35]

Notable African Australians

This list includes only individuals who immigrated directly from Africa to Australia, plus those who had an immediate ancestor who made such a migration. Individuals of African origin who migrated from non-African countries, or those whose entire African ancestry stems from such migration, are not included.

In recent years, African Australian soccer players have been prominent in men's soccer in Australia, with 34 players making an appearance in the 2020-2021 A-League season, up on 26 the previous year. These include Kusini Yengi and his brother, Tete Yengi, from South Sudan, and their friends, brothers Mohamed and Al Hassan Toure.[36]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Australian Bureau of Statistics : Census of Population and Housing: Cultural diversity data summary, 2021" (XLSX). Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  2. ^ "Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG), 2019 | Australian Bureau of Statistics". 18 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Settler arrival data: selected countries of birth by migration stream for the financial year 2011–12". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Archived from the original on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Unravelling the mystery of Arnhem Land's ancient African coins". Australian Geographic. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  5. ^ "The First Fleet, Botany Bay and the British penal colony". NSW Government.
  6. ^ "A Multicultural First Fleet". University of Wollongong. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  7. ^ Pownall, Angela (26 March 2012). "In search of pirate Black Jack". The West Australian. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Working together to keep Australia safe" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Community Information Summary: Ghana-born" (PDF). Department of Immigration & Citizenship. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 February 2014.
  10. ^ "African Australians: A Report on Human Rights and Social Inclusion Issues" (PDF). Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 23 November 2013. It is a common misconception that people from African backgrounds are one and the same. While the strong African spirit and pride certainly unifies, people from African backgrounds represent tremendous diversity in ethnicity, race, language, culture and religion. After all, the African continent comprises more than 50 countries. The impression of homogeneity is only one of many misconceptions about African Australians.
  11. ^ "Joint Submission on the Australian Human Rights Commission Discussion Paper: African Australians: A report on human rights and social inclusion issues" (PDF). NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  12. ^ "African resettlement in Australia: Conference report" (PDF). African Think Tank Inc. April 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  13. ^ "Overview: African Australians – Compendium". Australian Human Rights Commission. 2010. At the time of the 2006 census...
  14. ^ "Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG), 2011". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  15. ^ "SBS unveils new Radio Schedule". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  16. ^ Porter, Kristian (10 March 2016). "SBS launches 24/7 Arabic radio channel". Public Media Alliance. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  17. ^ "Home page". SBS Arabic24. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  18. ^ Mapedzahama, Virginia; Kwansah-Aidoo, Kwamena (2017). "Blackness as Burden? The Lived Experience of Black Africans in Australia". SAGE Open. 7 (3). SAGE Publications: 1–13. doi:10.1177/2158244017720483. ISSN 2158-2440. pdf Text from this source is available under a Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
  19. ^ Gatwiri, Kathomi (3 April 2019). "Growing Up African in Australia: Racism, resilience and the right to belong". The Conversation. Retrieved 3 November 2020. Review: Growing Up African in Australia, edited by Maxine Beneba Clarke, Magan Magan and Ahmed Yussuf
  20. ^ Mergia, Ayalew (October 2005). Black African immigrants in Australia: An exploratory analysis of the impacts of race and class on their lived experiences and adaptation processes (PhD). University of Melbourne. Retrieved 4 November 2020 – via Minerva Access. PDF
  21. ^ Udah, Hyacinth; Singh, Parlo; Hiruy, Kiroy; Mwanri, Lillian (21 July 2019). "African Immigrants to Australia: Barriers and Challenges to Labor Market Success". Journal of Asian and African Studies. 54 (8). SAGE Publications: 1159–1174. doi:10.1177/0021909619861788. ISSN 0021-9096. S2CID 200076025.
  22. ^ Vartanian, Hrag (28 September 2011). "Is Australian Aboriginal Art Part of the African Diaspora?". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  23. ^ Khan, Safiyya; Pedersen, Anne (23 February 2012). "Black African Immigrants to Australia: Prejudice and the Function of Attitudes - Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology". Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology. 4 (2): 116–129. doi:10.1375/prp.4.2.116. ISSN 1834-4909. PDF
  24. ^ Guantai, Natasha (10 March 2015). "Are there Black people in Australia?". Overland literary journal. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  25. ^ "Kaiya Aboagye". Writing NSW. 14 February 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  26. ^ Aboagye, Kaiya (2018). "Australian Blackness, the African Diaspora and Afro/Indigenous Connections in the Global South". Transition (126). Indiana University Press: 72–85. doi:10.2979/transition.126.1.11. ISSN 0041-1191. JSTOR 10.2979/transition.126.1.11. S2CID 159021142.
  27. ^ Shepherd, Stephane (25 March 2021). "Too many young African-Australians are in jail. Some blame police, but the data tells a more complex story". ABC News. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  28. ^ sudanese-gangs-victoria/10187550 "Fact check: Do Sudanese people account for only 1 per cent of crimes committed in Victoria?". ABC News. 4 September 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2023. ((cite news)): Check |url= value (help)
  29. ^ "South Sudanese gangs a 'real concern' in Melbourne, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says - ABC News". Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  30. ^ "How the panic about Melbourne's so-called African gangs haunts this Victorian election | Victoria state election 2022 | The Guardian". Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  31. ^ "African gang panic in Melbourne: Lessons from a scare campaign one state election later". Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  32. ^ "Vietnamese,South Sudanese gang conflict in Melbourne". Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  33. ^ a b Wahlquist, Calla. "Is Melbourne in the grip of African crime gangs? The facts behind the lurid headlines". Retrieved 9 June 2024.
  34. ^ a b Maker, Mayek; Weber, Leanne; Johns, Diana. "How the panic about Melbourne's so-called African gangs haunts this Victorian election". Retrieved 9 June 2024.
  35. ^ Abay Adhana (2017). "Strategic othering through 'African Australian' as a collective identity: A view from African background young people in Melbourne". La Trobe University. Externally Africans are collectively known as 'African Australians'. This label displays a generalised image for all African descent people. The colloquial phrase can be interpreted in two ways: first as group identity that signals pan-African ethnicity; and second as Diasporic identity appealing to reconnect back to their motherland.
  36. ^ Chalmers, Max (22 June 2021). "Football's A-League is lighting up with a new generation of African-Australian players". ABC News. Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 July 2021.

Further reading