Briefing paper

What does the 2016 Census reveal about Pacific Islands communities in Australia?

28 Sep 2017

The release of the 2016 Australian national census data allows comparisons with data from the 2006 and 2011 censuses. What do the data reveal about Pacific Islander communities in Australia?

The following analysis is derived from census data on individuals claiming Pacific Islands ancestry (categorised by the ABS as Micronesian, Melanesian and Papuan, and Polynesian). It does not include persons claiming New Zealand (including Māori) ancestry nor does it include persons claiming Fiji-Indian ancestry. Following the ABS taxonomy, Fiji is included in the Polynesian category. This analysis draws on ancestry rather than place of birth statistics as the latter captures only first generation migrants, rather than the totality of multi-generational ‘Pacific Islander’ communities, and may also include the children of expatriates born in Pacific Island countries who do not identify as persons of Pacific Islands ancestry. In addition, as noted by Pryke (2014), place of birth data masks the role of New Zealand as a waystation for migration to Australia from countries such as Tonga, Samoa and Cook Islands.

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