The Spain-born Community
Spain's first significant contribution to Australia predates the arrival of the first Spanish settler: it was the introduction in 1797 of Spanish merino sheep to NSW. These sheep were the beginning of the Australian merino breed.
The first recorded Spanish free settler in Australia was J.B.L. De Arrieta, who arrived in 1821. The colonial government of NSW granted him 2000 acres of fertile land at Morton Park. He died in 1838; Spaniard's Hill (near Camden) perpetuates his memory.
A few Spanish fortune-seekers were recorded in the Victorian goldfields in the 1850s. A group of Catalan and Basque Spaniards migrated to Victoria in 1880. Around 1885, a number of Spanish families settled in White Hills (Victoria).
Others settled near Echuca (Victoria) and worked as tomato growers, while others settled in Queensland and worked in the sugar cane industry. By 1891, the Spain-born population numbered 503 persons. It slowly increased to 992 in 1947.
In the years following the Spanish Civil War (which took place between 1936 and 1939) over 600 000 Spaniards left Spain and moved to other countries, including Latin America and Australia. Spanish rural workers were considered to be suited to cane cutting and were offered assisted passages.
In 1961-62, 1808 Spain-born settlers arrived in Australia. In the following year, 4585 arrived. However, in March 1963, following unemployment problems in Australia, the Spanish Government suspended assisted migration from Spain. Later, after negotiations in Madrid, the movement of Spanish workers to Australia was resumed on a limited scale.
The number of Spain-born in Australia reached a peak of 16 270 in 1986. By the next Census, their number had dropped to 14 710 and 12 610 in 2006 because fewer Spaniards were migrating to Australia.
The latest Census in 2006 recorded 12 280 Spain-born people in Australia, a decrease of 2.7 per cent from the 2001 Census. The 2006 distribution by state and territory showed New South Wales had the largest number with 5080 followed by Victoria (2910), Queensland (1890) and Western Australia (1040).
Age and Sex
The median age of the Spain-born in 2006 was 55.2 years compared with 46.8 years for all overseas-born and 37.1 years for the total Australian population. The age distribution showed 2.1 per cent were aged 0-14 years, 2.3 per cent were 15-24 years, 25.3 per cent were 25-44 years, 40.2 per cent were 45-64 years and 30.1 per cent were 65 and over.
Of the Spain-born in Australia, there were 6280 males (51.2 per cent) and 5990 females (48.8 per cent). The sex ratio was 104.9 males per 100 females.
In the 2006 Census, the top three ancestry responses* that Spain-born people reported were, Spanish (11 160), Not Stated (390) and English (310).
In the 2006 Census, Australians reported more than 250 different Ancestries. From the total ancestry responses*, 0.3 per cent responded as having a Spanish ancestry.
*At the 2006 Census up to two responses per person were allowed for the Ancestry question; therefore providing the total responses and not persons count.
The main languages spoken at home by Spain-born people in Australia were Spanish (65.4 per cent), English (27.5 per cent) and Italian (2.7 per cent).
Of the 8830 Spain-born who spoke a language other than English at home, 75.6 per cent spoke English very well or well and 23.4 per cent spoke English not well or not at all.
At the 2006 Census the major religious affiliations amongst Spain-born were Catholic (9290 persons), No Religion (1380 persons) and Not Stated (610 persons).
Of the Spain-born, 11.3 per cent stated 'No Religion', this was lower than that of the total Australian population (18.7 per cent). 5.0 per cent of the Spain-born did not state a religion.
Compared to 67.9 per cent of the total overseas-born population, 86.9 per cent of the Spain-born people in Australia arrived in Australia prior to 1996.
Among the total Spain-born in Australia at the 2006 Census, 2.6 per cent arrived between 1996 and 2000 and 6.0 per cent arrived during 2001 and 2006.
At the 2006 Census, the estimated rate of Australian Citizenship for the Spain-born in Australia was 81.8 per cent. The estimated rate for all overseas-born was 75.6 per cent. This rate includes adjustments for people not meeting the residential requirement for citizenship, temporary entrants to Australia and underenumeration at the Census.
At the time of the 2006 Census, the median individual weekly income for the Spain-born in Australia aged 15 years and over was $374, compared with $431 for all overseas-born and $488 for all Australia-born. The total Australian population had a median individual weekly income of $466.
At the 2006 Census, 51.0 per cent of the Spain-born aged 15 years and over had some form of higher non school qualifications compared to 52.5 per cent of the Australian population. Among the Spain-born, 18.3 per cent had Diploma level or higher* qualifications and 20.2 per cent had Certificate level qualifications. From the Spain-born, 5750 had no higher non school qualification, of which 3.9 per cent were still attending an educational institution.
* Diploma level or higher qualification includes Degree level or higher, Advanced Diploma and Diploma level.
Among Spain-born people aged 15 years and over, the participation rate in the labour force was 52.3 per cent and the unemployment rate was 5.0 per cent. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 64.6 and 5.2 per cent respectively.
Of the 5750 Spain-born who were employed, 27.0 per cent were employed in a Skill Level 1 occupation, 11.6 per cent in Skill Level 2 and 18.8 per cent in Skill Level 3. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 28.7, 10.7 and 15.1 per cent respectively.
Jointly produced by Multicultural Affairs Branch and the Program Statistics and Monitoring Section of the department. All data used in this summary is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing. Sources for the Historical Background available at Community Information Summaries: Bibliography
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