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Australia

Language spoken at home

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This topic has been updated with 2016 Census data for the LGA or other primary area only. What's this?

In Australia, 21% of people spoke a language other than English at home in 2016.

Australia's language statistics show the proportion of the population who speak a language at home other than English. They indicate how culturally diverse a population is and the degree to which different ethnic groups and nationalities are retaining their language.

Australia's language statistics should be analysed in conjunction with Country of Birth and Proficiency in English to assist in identifying specific cultural and ethnic groups in the area and the services required by the multicultural community.

Derived from the Census question:

'Does the person speak a language other than English at home?'

Total population

Language spoken at home - Ranked by size
Australia - Total persons (Usual residence)20162011Change
Language (excludes English)Number%Greater Capital Cities %Number%Greater Capital Cities %2011 to 2016
Mandarin596,7032.53.6336,1781.62.3+260,525
Arabic321,7201.42.0287,1711.32.0+34,549
Cantonese280,9431.21.7263,5381.21.8+17,405
Vietnamese277,3911.21.7233,3881.11.6+44,003
Italian271,6021.21.5299,8291.41.8-28,227
Greek237,5831.01.5252,2111.21.7-14,628
Filipino/Tagalog182,4980.81.0136,8460.60.8+45,652
Hindi159,6370.71.0111,3490.50.7+48,288
Spanish140,8130.60.8117,4930.50.7+23,320
Punjabi132,5000.60.871,2310.30.5+61,269
Persian/Dari111,0120.50.754,7410.30.4+56,271
Korean108,9940.50.679,7840.40.5+29,210
German79,3520.30.480,3660.40.4-1,014
Tamil73,1610.30.450,1450.20.3+23,016
French70,8780.30.457,7410.30.3+13,137
Urdu69,2950.30.436,8350.20.2+32,460
Indonesian67,8940.30.455,8610.30.4+12,033
Macedonian66,0200.30.468,8430.30.4-2,823
Australian Indigenous Languages64,7610.30.061,7490.30.0+3,012
Sinhalese64,6130.30.448,1920.20.3+16,421
Nepali62,0050.30.427,1560.10.2+34,849
Turkish58,3560.20.459,6250.30.4-1,269
Croatian56,8850.20.361,5450.30.4-4,660
Japanese55,9580.20.343,6900.20.2+12,268
Thai55,4380.20.336,6650.20.2+18,773
Bengali54,5520.20.335,6470.20.2+18,905
Serbian53,8000.20.355,1140.30.3-1,314
Malayalam53,2030.20.325,1080.10.2+28,095
Gujarati52,8710.20.334,2100.20.2+18,661
Russian50,3120.20.344,0540.20.3+6,258
Portuguese48,8560.20.333,3480.20.2+15,508
Polish48,0700.20.350,6960.20.3-2,626
Assyrian/Aramaic45,6900.20.331,3170.10.2+14,373
Samoan44,8750.20.336,5740.20.2+8,301
Afrikaans43,7480.20.235,0270.20.2+8,721
Khmer35,4290.20.229,5180.10.2+5,911
Telugu34,4340.10.218,7230.10.1+15,711
Dutch33,8260.10.137,2470.20.2-3,421
Non-verbal so described33,1660.10.221,9070.10.1+11,259
Maltese31,9930.10.234,3980.20.2-2,405
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Excludes languages with fewer than 20 people speaking them at home, or less than 0.1% of the total population.

Language spoken at home - Summary
Australia - Total persons (Usual residence)20162011Change
Language summaryNumber%Greater Capital Cities %Number%Greater Capital Cities %2011 to 2016
Speaks English only17,020,41372.766.316,508,34776.870.4+512,066
Non-English total4,871,52420.827.93,904,12118.224.7+967,403
Not stated1,509,8336.55.81,084,6235.04.9+425,210

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2011 and 2016. Compiled and presented by .id , the population experts.

Language spoken at home, 2016
Language spoken at home, 2016 Mandarin, Greater Capital Cities: 3.6% Arabic, Greater Capital Cities: 2.0% Cantonese, Greater Capital Cities: 1.7% Vietnamese, Greater Capital Cities: 1.7% Italian, Greater Capital Cities: 1.5% Greek, Greater Capital Cities: 1.5% Filipino/Tagalog, Greater Capital Cities: 1.0% Hindi, Greater Capital Cities: 1.0% Spanish, Greater Capital Cities: 0.8% Punjabi, Greater Capital Cities: 0.8% Mandarin, Australia: 2.5% Arabic, Australia: 1.4% Cantonese, Australia: 1.2% Vietnamese, Australia: 1.2% Italian, Australia: 1.2% Greek, Australia: 1.0% Filipino/Tagalog, Australia: 0.8% Hindi, Australia: 0.7% Spanish, Australia: 0.6% Punjabi, Australia: 0.6%
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 2016 (Usual residence data)
Compiled and presented in profile.id by .id, the population experts.
Change in language spoken at home, 2011 to 2016
Change in language spoken at home, 2011 to 2016 Mandarin, Australia: +260,525 Arabic, Australia: +34,549 Cantonese, Australia: +17,405 Vietnamese, Australia: +44,003 Italian, Australia: -28,227 Greek, Australia: -14,628 Filipino/Tagalog, Australia: +45,652 Hindi, Australia: +48,288 Spanish, Australia: +23,320 Punjabi, Australia: +61,269
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 2011 and 2016 (Usual residence data)
Compiled and presented in profile.id by .id, the population experts.

Dominant groups

Analysis of the language spoken at home by the population of Australia in 2016 compared to Greater Capital Cities shows that there was a larger proportion of people who spoke English only, and a smaller proportion of those speaking a non-English language (either exclusively, or in addition to English).

Overall, 72.7% of the population spoke English only, and 20.8% spoke a non-English language, compared with 66.3% and 27.9% respectively for Greater Capital Cities.

The dominant language spoken at home, other than English, in Australia was Mandarin, with 2.5% of the population, or 596,703 people speaking this language at home.

The major difference between the languages spoken at home for the population of Australia and Greater Capital Cities in 2016 was:

  • A smaller percentage speaking Mandarin at home (2.5% compared to 3.6%)

Emerging groups

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of people who spoke a language other than English at home increased by 967,403 or 24.8%, and the number of people who spoke English only increased by 512,066 or 3.1%.

The largest changes in the spoken languages of the population in Australia between 2011 and 2016 were for those speaking:

  • Mandarin (+260,525 persons)
  • Punjabi (+61,269 persons)
  • Persian/Dari (+56,271 persons)
  • Hindi (+48,288 persons)

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