Croatian community profile

Information about the Croatian community in Victoria including where they live and when they arrived, languages spoken, English language proficiency, religions and significant dates.

These profiles are of Victorian communities, using the best available data we have from the 2021 Australian Census.

The Census defines ancestry as the cultural or ethnic group you most identify with.

We acknowledge that the profiles are not definitive. There are limitations and challenges in assigning ancestry or ethnicity to a specific ‘community’, especially as defined by geographical borders.


The Croatian community is an established community in Victoria. There have been four different waves of migration of Croatian–born people to Victoria.

The first group of Croatians arrived during gold rush era (1851–1871). Many Croatians settled and remained in Victoria when the gold rush ended.

The second wave happened after World War II, where many Croatians were considered ‘displaced persons’ and arrived from refugee camps. During this time, many Croatians settled in the fruit–growing districts of Victoria, especially around Mildura.

The third wave of migration happened in the 1960s and early 1970s. These Croatians migrated to Victoria to due to unemployment, difficult economic conditions, and the Croatian War of Independence from Yugoslavia.

The most recent wave of migration happened in the 1990s due to the conflict in Yugoslavia. Many Croatians arrived as refugees during this time.

While the migration of Croatians has slowed down since the early 2000s, Victoria is still home to the second–largest Croatian community in Australia.

Croatian community

The Croatian community in Victoria is second largest in Australia. There are 51,244 people in Victoria who have Croatian ancestry, of which 15,260 were born in Croatia.

The gender breakdown for the Croatian community is:

  • male: 25,112 (49.0%)
  • female: 26,132 (51.0%).

Most of the Croatian community is older, with the largest cohorts aged over 65 years (19.3%) and 45–54 (16.1%).

Insights for communication and engagement

The following are some key insights from the data when communicating and engaging with the Croatian community:

  • The Croatian community is well established in Victoria with most of the population arriving between 1961 and 1980.
  • The community has medium levels of English language proficiency and there many in the community who may require in–language information, resources or in-person support.
  • Write in plain language. Use plain words, short sentences, headings, lists and other design elements to make information clear.
  • Print and radio channels can be helpful for reaching many in the Croatian community in Victoria.
  • For place–based activities, the north–western and south–western suburbs are where most of the community lives.

For more insights about communicating with multicultural audiences read the:

Better practice guide for multicultural communications
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Better practice guide for multicultural communications - accessible version
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Many people in the Croatian community live in Melbourne’s north–western and south–eastern suburbs.

The City of Brimbank is home to one of the largest Croatian communities in Victoria with 4,791 people. The City of Greater Geelong is next with 4,558 people.

These 10 local government areas have the largest Croatian communities.

Local government areaPopulation
Greater Geelong4,558
Moonee Valley2,270
Hobsons Bay1,583

Croatia-born population

The following statistics focus on people living in Victoria who were born in Croatia. This will be referred to as the ‘Croatia–born population’.


The top languages spoken by the Croatia–born population in Victoria are:

  • Croatian (9,546)
  • English (3,512)
  • Serbian (1,231).

English language proficiency

The Croatia–born population in Victoria has medium levels of English language proficiency:

  • 59.7% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 16.3% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 23% of the population speaks English only.


The Croatia–born population identify with the following religions:

  • Catholicism (75.4%)
  • Eastern Orthodox (6.9%)
  • Christianity (3.6%)
  • no religion (9%).

Years of arrival

There have been two main points of arrival for the Croatia–born population in Victoria. Most of the population arrived from 1961–1970 (24.6%), and 1971–1980 (15.2%).

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


Traditionally, Croatian names begin with family name, followed by the first name. However, many Croatian–born people adopt the standard Western naming style with the first name then followed by the family name. It is common for many Croatian surnames to have a suffice ‘–ić’. Family names are typically passed down the male line, with women who marry often taking their husband’s family name.

Significant dates

The Croatian community celebrates various cultural and religious holidays. These dates will vary depending on a person’s religion, heritage and identity. The following are some key dates of significance:

  • Easter – Late March/Early April
  • Assumption of Mary – 15 August
  • All Saints Day – 1 November
  • Epiphany – 6 January
  • Anti–fascist Struggle Day – 22 June
  • Victory Day/Day of Croatian Defenders – 5 August.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of birth QuickStats
  • SBS Cultural Atlas
  • Encyclopedia of Melbourne (School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, in association with the University of Melbourne's eScholarship Research Centre).