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Iranian community profile

Information about the Iranian 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. 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 the ethnic and linguistic complexity of the Iranian community and note that these profiles are not definitive.

There are limitations and challenges in assigning ancestry or ethnicity to a specific ‘community’, especially as defined by geographical borders.


Only a few Iran–born people were living in Victoria during the nineteenth century. The Iranian community grew after World War II when service workers from the oil industry began settling in Victoria.

During the 1980s and 1990s, there was an increase in the Iranian community in Victoria. The Iranian revolution (1979) and the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s resulted in a large number of Iranians migrating to Victoria.

After 1981, Australia created a special program to help Iranians from religious minority groups escape persecution. Because of this program, about 2,500 people from Iran moved to Australia, including specific skills who were part of Australia's Migration Program.

Many Iranians who initially intended to be temporary residents in Australia due to education or professional opportunities decided to stay permanently due to the prolonged unrest in their homeland.

By the 2000s, the Iranian community in Victoria had become established, with many cultural, religious, and community organisations in place. The largest growth of the Iranian occurred from 2011–2015.

This period saw almost half of the community arrive in Victoria. Many of these people arrived under the Australian Government’s skilled visa and family reunion programs.

Iranian community

The Iranian community in Victoria is second largest in Australia. There are 27,989 people in Victoria who have Iranian ancestries, of which 21,421 were born in Iran.

The following ancestries have been included in defining the Iranian community: Iranian, Azeri, Kurdish and Turkmen.

The gender breakdown for the Iranian community is:

  • male: 14,758 (52.7%)
  • female: 13,231 (47.3%).

Most of the Iranian community is young to middle–aged, with the largest cohorts aged from 35–44 (29.9%), and 0–14 (20.5%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Iranian community is a growing one; with many people arriving from 2011–2015.
  • 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, Persian media and digital channels can help reach the many young to middle–aged Iranians who live in Victoria.
  • For place–based activities, the north–eastern suburbs are where most of the community lives.

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 2.33 MB
(opens in a new window)


Many people in the Iranian community live in Melbourne’s north–eastern suburbs.

The City of Manningham is home to the largest Iran–born population in Victoria with 3,616 people. The City of Whittlesea is next with 3,123 people.

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

Local government areaPopulation

Iran-born population

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


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

  • Persian (excluding Dari) (16,713)
  • English (1,527)
  • Arabic (743)
  • Hazaragi (560)
  • Dari (545)
  • Kurdish (517).

English language proficiency

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

  • 79.1% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 13.2% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 7% of the population speak English only.


The Iran–born population identify with the following religions.

  • Islam (33.5%)
  • Baha’i (8.5%)
  • Christianity (2.8%)
  • no religion (37.8%).

Years of arrival

There are three significant points of arrival for the Iran–born population: 2001–2010, 2011–2015 and 2016–2021. Most of the Iran–born population in Victoria arrived between 2011 and 2015.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage
1951 to 1960150.1
1961 to 1970800.4
1971 to 19802471.1
1981 to 19901,4506.6
1991 to 20001,2755.8
2001 to 20104,25419.4
2011 to 20159,25342.2
2016 to 20215,01222.9


In Iranian culture, people do not have a middle name and can sometimes have two first names. This means that names usually follow this order: [Personal name] [Optional second personal name] [Surname]. Children usually take on their father’s last name. Women do not have to change their last name to their husband’s after marrying and some may choose to add it to their surname with a hyphen.

Significant dates

The following are some key national dates of significance:

  • Revolution Day – 11 February
  • Oil Nationalisation Day – 19 March
  • Persian New Year (Nowruz) – 21 March
  • Islamic Republic Day – 31 March
  • Nature Day (Sizdah Be Dar) – 1 April.

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).