Ethiopian community profile

Information about the Ethiopian 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 Ethiopian community in Victoria is a recently established one. It is a community that is made up of a diverse mix of cultures, including Amhara, Oromo, Tigray and Harari (also known as Adore). Each of these cultures has traditions, languages and religions that make it unique.

A number of Ethiopia–born people arrived in the 1970s due to the civil conflict when the ‘Derg’ socialist government assumed power. During this time, many Ethiopians fled their country and became refugees.

The 1990s saw the migration of Ethiopian people due to continued political unrest and natural disasters, including drought and famine. Many of these people spent many years as displaced persons in other countries before settling in Australia.

Most of the Ethiopian community living in Victoria have arrived since 2000. This includes people of all education and skill levels, ages and genders.

Many of these people arrived either through the humanitarian or family reunion programs. Since 2011, there has been a steady decline in Ethiopia–born people arriving in Victoria.

Ethiopian community

The Ethiopian community in Victoria is the largest in Australia. There are 21,833 people in Victoria who have Ethiopian ancestries, of which 7,769 were born in Ethiopia.

The following ancestries have been included in defining the Ethiopian community: Ethiopian, Amhara, Oromo, Somali and Tigray.

The gender breakdown for the Ethiopian community is:

  • male: 10,496 (48.1%)
  • female: 11,337 (51.9%).

Most of the Ethiopian community is young, with the largest cohorts aged from 0–14 (33.0%) and 15–24 (20.4%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Ethiopian community is a growing one with many people arriving between 2001 and 2010.
  • 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.
  • Social media can help reach the many young Ethiopians who live in Victoria.
  • For placed–based activities, the south–western and north–western suburbs are where most of the community lives.
  • For many religious Ethiopians, it can be helpful to reach them in their places of worship by providing brochures.

For more insights about communicating with multicultural audiences read the:

Better practice guide for multicultural communications
PDF 3.35 MB
(opens in a new window)
Better practice guide for multicultural communications - accessible version
Word 1.04 MB
(opens in a new window)


Many people in the Ethiopian community live in Melbourne’s south–western and north–western suburbs.

The City of Wyndham is home to one of the largest Ethiopian communities in Victoria with 4,858 people. The City of Brimbank is next with 2,132 people.

The following 10 local government areas have the largest Ethiopian communities, which include people from the range of ancestries outlined above.

Local government areaPopulation
Moonee Valley1,244
Greater Dandenong984

Ethiopia-born population

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


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

  • Amharic (3,104)
  • Oromo (1,758)
  • Tigrinya (881)
  • English (630)
  • Harari (261)
  • Somali (240).

English language proficiency

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

  • 78.2% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 12.7% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 8.1% of the population speak English only.


The Ethiopia–born population identify with the following religions:

  • Islam (34%)
  • Oriental Orthodox (24%)
  • Christianity (13.7%)
  • Eastern Orthodox (7.5%)
  • other Protestants (4.4%).

Years of arrival

There are three key points of arrival for the Ethiopia–born population in Victoria: 1991–2000, 2001–2010 and 2011–2015. The majority of the population arrived after 2001.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage
1951 to 1960110.1
1961 to 1970150.2
1971 to 1980851.1
1981 to 19903444.4
1991 to 20001,51519.5
2001 to 20102,67234.4
2011 to 20151,62821.0
2016 to 20211,29616.7


In Ethiopian culture, names usually follow this order: [Given name] [Father’s personal name]. People do not have surnames in Ethiopia.

Women do not change names after marriage because the second name is not a surname. Nicknames are normally used to show intimacy or closeness to someone.

Ethiopians living in Western countries may use their father’s personal name in place of a surname. This can be confusing as it can mean that members of the same family have different surnames.

Significant dates

The following are some key dates of significance:

  • Adwa Victory Day – 2 March
  • Day of Lament – 28 March
  • May Day – 1 May
  • Ethiopia Patriots’ Victory Day – 5 May
  • New Year’s Day – 11 or 12 September.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of birth QuickStats
  • SBS Cultural Atlas
  • Melbourne Museum.