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Greater Melbourne

Language spoken at home

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This topic has been updated with 2016 Census data for all areas. What's this?

In Greater Melbourne, 32% of people spoke a language other than English at home in 2016.

Greater Melbourne'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.

Greater Melbourne'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.

Please note: Due to changes in ABS rules around perturbation and additivity of data to protect the confidentiality of individuals in 2016, counts of individual language groups and totals derived from them may differ slightly from those published by the ABS. For more information see notes on data confidentiality.

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
Greater Melbourne - Total persons (Usual residence)20162011Change
Language (excludes English)Number%Australia %Number%Australia %2011 to 2016
Mandarin184,9774.12.5100,6392.51.6+84,338
Greek107,3862.41.0113,4552.81.2-6,069
Italian101,8492.31.2112,6822.81.4-10,833
Vietnamese101,3882.31.285,1122.11.1+16,276
Cantonese76,2831.71.271,2401.81.2+5,043
Arabic76,2731.71.465,4321.61.3+10,841
Punjabi52,7671.20.629,5330.70.3+23,234
Hindi49,4461.10.731,6170.80.5+17,829
Filipino/Tagalog36,5750.80.828,2860.70.6+8,289
Sinhalese36,2790.80.327,4330.70.2+8,846
Persian/Dari34,7680.80.514,7830.40.3+19,985
Spanish33,6640.80.627,6260.70.5+6,038
Turkish30,3060.70.231,1990.80.3-893
Macedonian28,0350.60.329,3840.70.3-1,349
Tamil24,8660.60.316,9410.40.2+7,925
Urdu22,3990.50.310,6900.30.2+11,709
French17,5980.40.314,9410.40.3+2,657
Croatian17,4740.40.218,8490.50.3-1,375
Russian16,9840.40.215,8430.40.2+1,141
German16,1500.40.316,2730.40.4-123
Indonesian16,0170.40.313,2880.30.3+2,729
Maltese15,9540.40.117,2130.40.2-1,259
Serbian15,7790.40.216,2720.40.3-493
Assyrian/Aramaic15,3000.30.29,8420.20.1+5,458
Malayalam14,9760.30.28,3880.20.1+6,588
Korean14,8440.30.510,0350.30.4+4,809
Gujarati14,4560.30.29,0460.20.2+5,410
Khmer14,3790.30.211,5890.30.1+2,790
Polish14,0370.30.215,1500.40.2-1,113
Telugu12,6450.30.17,0440.20.1+5,601
Samoan11,1950.20.27,1890.20.2+4,006
Bengali10,4580.20.26,5260.20.2+3,932
Japanese10,4180.20.27,6950.20.2+2,723
Thai10,3920.20.26,7710.20.2+3,621
Nepali9,7630.20.34,3880.10.1+5,375
Non-verbal so described8,3470.20.15,3020.10.1+3,045
Somali7,3960.20.15,5730.10.0+1,823
Portuguese6,8640.20.24,7820.10.2+2,082
Chinese, nfd6,7030.10.16,7210.20.1-18
Dutch6,3300.10.16,8650.20.2-535
Albanian6,2670.10.06,1390.20.0+128
Hungarian5,9930.10.16,6280.20.1-635
Min Nan (incl.Hokkien)5,6690.10.15,2040.10.1+465
Bosnian5,5980.10.15,8000.10.1-202
Hakka5,4450.10.05,5000.10.0-55
Hebrew5,1190.10.04,8710.10.0+248
Romanian4,8930.10.14,8480.10.1+45
Afrikaans4,6610.10.23,7340.10.2+927
Dinka4,5670.10.12,8060.10.0+1,761
Malay4,5010.10.14,0140.10.1+487
Pashto4,4860.10.02,2480.10.0+2,238
Burmese4,0030.10.12,2210.10.1+1,782
Marathi3,7660.10.12,2890.10.0+1,477
Amharic3,6830.10.02,3380.10.0+1,345
Kannada3,5390.10.02,2290.10.0+1,310
Karen3,4860.10.02,2940.10.0+1,192
Chin Haka3,1370.10.06050.00.0+2,532
Tongan2,5720.10.11,9000.00.1+672
Ukrainian2,3830.10.02,4620.10.0-79
Auslan2,2670.10.01,9610.00.0+306
Tigrinya2,2030.00.01,4220.00.0+781
Oromo2,0800.00.01,4330.00.0+647
Armenian1,9750.00.01,9180.00.0+57
Swahili1,9730.00.01,1240.00.0+849
Shona1,9200.00.01,3190.00.0+601
Lao1,8520.00.01,8970.00.0-45
Serbo-Croatian Yugoslavian, so described1,6240.00.01,6620.00.0-38
Swedish1,6220.00.01,3380.00.0+284
Kurdish1,5660.00.08970.00.0+669
Māori (New Zealand)1,5040.00.11,2620.00.0+242
Slovak1,4900.00.01,5400.00.0-50
Slovene1,4520.00.01,5320.00.0-80
Māori (Cook Island)1,3950.00.01,2720.00.0+123
Czech1,3770.00.01,4310.00.0-54
Yiddish1,2940.00.01,5040.00.0-210
Nuer1,2760.00.08700.00.0+406
Wu9310.00.05170.00.0+414
Latvian8930.00.01,0920.00.0-199
Danish8620.00.08470.00.0+15
Fijian8000.00.06770.00.0+123
Finnish7920.00.07800.00.0+12
Bulgarian6630.00.05260.00.0+137
Hmong5610.00.06020.00.0-41
Fijian Hindustani5050.00.02660.00.0+239
Norwegian4350.00.04040.00.0+31
Tibetan3760.00.01920.00.0+184
Indo-Aryan, nfd3320.00.01530.00.0+179
Tetum3230.00.03160.00.0+7
Australian Indigenous Languages2970.00.32830.00.3+14
Uygur2700.00.02070.00.0+63
Estonian2540.00.01820.00.0+72
Tswana740.00.01080.00.0-34
Tokelauan230.00.0140.00.0+9
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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
Greater Melbourne - Total persons (Usual residence)20162011Change
Language summaryNumber%Australia %Number%Australia %2011 to 2016
Speaks English only2,781,18862.072.72,652,58066.476.8+128,608
Non-English total1,450,95132.320.81,160,58029.018.2+290,371
Not stated253,0855.66.5184,5204.65.0+68,565

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, Australia: 2.5% Greek, Australia: 1.0% Italian, Australia: 1.2% Vietnamese, Australia: 1.2% Cantonese, Australia: 1.2% Arabic, Australia: 1.4% Punjabi, Australia: 0.6% Hindi, Australia: 0.7% Filipino/Tagalog, Australia: 0.8% Sinhalese, Australia: 0.3% Mandarin, Greater Melbourne: 4.1% Greek, Greater Melbourne: 2.4% Italian, Greater Melbourne: 2.3% Vietnamese, Greater Melbourne: 2.3% Cantonese, Greater Melbourne: 1.7% Arabic, Greater Melbourne: 1.7% Punjabi, Greater Melbourne: 1.2% Hindi, Greater Melbourne: 1.1% Filipino/Tagalog, Greater Melbourne: 0.8% Sinhalese, Greater Melbourne: 0.8%
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, Greater Melbourne: +84,338 Greek, Greater Melbourne: -6,069 Italian, Greater Melbourne: -10,833 Vietnamese, Greater Melbourne: +16,276 Cantonese, Greater Melbourne: +5,043 Arabic, Greater Melbourne: +10,841 Punjabi, Greater Melbourne: +23,234 Hindi, Greater Melbourne: +17,829 Filipino/Tagalog, Greater Melbourne: +8,289 Sinhalese, Greater Melbourne: +8,846
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 Greater Melbourne in 2016 compared to Australia shows that there was a smaller proportion of people who spoke English only, and a larger proportion of those speaking a non-English language (either exclusively, or in addition to English).

Overall, 62.0% of the population spoke English only, and 32.3% spoke a non-English language, compared with 72.7% and 20.8% respectively for Australia.

The dominant language spoken at home, other than English, in Greater Melbourne was Mandarin, with 4.1% of the population, or 184,977 people speaking this language at home.

The major differences between the languages spoken at home for the population of Greater Melbourne and Australia in 2016 were:

  • A larger percentage speaking Mandarin at home (4.1% compared to 2.5%)
  • A larger percentage speaking Greek at home (2.4% compared to 1.0%)
  • A larger percentage speaking Italian at home (2.3% compared to 1.2%)
  • A larger percentage speaking Vietnamese at home (2.3% compared to 1.2%)

Emerging groups

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of people who spoke a language other than English at home increased by 290,371 or 25.0%, and the number of people who spoke English only increased by 128,608 or 4.8%.

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

  • Mandarin (+84,338 persons)
  • Punjabi (+23,234 persons)
  • Persian/Dari (+19,985 persons)
  • Hindi (+17,829 persons)

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