Eritrean community profile

Information about the Eritrean 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 Eritrean community in Victoria is a small and relatively new one. Before 1983, only a few Eritreans arrived in Victoria as either refugees or students.

The peak of arrivals happened after Eritrea gained independence in 1991. Many Eritreans arrived in Australia as refugees to escape the new government and due to the Eritrean–Ethiopian war. Almost a third of the current Eritrea–born population migrated to Victoria between 1991 and 2000.

Many Eritreans were forced to flee to refugee camps in the neighbouring countries of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, before settling in Victoria.

Since 2001, a steady number of Eritreans have been arriving in Victoria. Brimbank and Wyndham are the top two local government areas for the Eritrean community in Victoria.

Eritrean community

The Eritrean community in Victoria is the largest in Australia. There are 5,060 people in Victoria who have Eritrean ancestry, of which 2,591 were born in Eritrea.

The gender breakdown for the Eritrean community is:

  • male: 2,372 (46.9%)
  • female: 2,688 (53.1%).

Most of the Eritrean community is young, with the largest cohorts aged from 0–14 (29.8%) and 15–24 (18.8%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Eritrean community is a relatively new community, with most people arriving between 1991 and 2000.
  • The community has high levels of English language proficiency and may therefore understand information or resources in English. It is worth noting there are still many in the community who may require in–language information, resources or in-person support, particularly more recent arrivals and older people.
  • Write in plain language. Use plain words, short sentences, headings, lists and other design elements to make information clear.
  • Digital channels can be helpful for reaching many in the Eritrean community.
  • For placed–based activities, the north–western and south–western suburbs are where most of the population 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 Eritrean community live in Melbourne’s north–western and south–western suburbs.

The City of Wyndham is home to the largest Eritrean community in Victoria with 1,070 people. The City of Brimbank is next with 872 people.

The following 10 local government areas have the largest Eritrean communities.

Local government areaPopulation
Moonee Valley316
Greater Dandenong178

Eritrean-born population

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


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

  • Tigrinya (1,126)
  • Arabic (1,017)
  • English (135).

English language proficiency

The Eritrea–born population in Victoria has high levels of English language proficiency:

  • 75% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 19.3% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 5.2% of the population speak English only.


The Eritrea–born population identify with the following religions:

  • Islam (57.2%)
  • Christianity (9.6%)
  • Easter Orthodox (8.6%)
  • Oriental Orthodox (7%)
  • Pentecostal (4.9%).

Years of arrival

There are three significant points of arrival for the Eritrea–born population: 1991–2000, 2001–2010, and 2016–2021.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


Eritrea names usually include a personal name and a father’s personal name. Eritrea names do not include a family name, meaning members of the same family may have different surnames. In Eritrea culture, women do not change their names after getting married. Many Eritrea–born people adapt their names to Western naming customs by using their father’s name in place of a surname.

Significant dates

The Eritrean community is diverse, and many cultural and religious festivals are celebrated. The following are some key dates of significance:

  • Independence Day – May 24
  • Martyr’s Day – June 20
  • New Year’s Day – 1 January
  • End of Ramadan (Eid al–Fitr) – varies every year
  • Eid ul–Adha – varies each year.

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).