Italian community profile

Information about the Italian 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 Italian community is one of the most well-established communities in Victoria. There have been different waves of migration of Italians to Victoria.

The first wave happened during the gold rush period in the 1850s. Many people from the same village or town in Italy migrated to Victoria.

The second wave took place after World War II. From 1950-1970, many agricultural workers from regional areas such as Sicily and Calabria moved to Victoria. From the 1960s, Italian communities grew in suburbs such as Brunswick, Coburg, Preston, Essendon and Oakleigh.

While the migration of Italian people has slowed down since the 1980s, Victoria is home to the largest Italian community in Australia.

Italian community

The Italian community in Victoria is the largest in Australia. There are 384,688 people in Victoria who have Italian ancestry, of which 64,796 were born in Italy.

The gender breakdown for the Italian community is:

  • male: 19,813 (49.7%)
  • female: 19,548 (49.5%).

The largest cohorts in the Italian community are aged from 0–14 (17%) and over 65 years old (16.9%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Italian community are well established in Victoria with most of the population arriving from 1951-1970.
  • The community has medium levels of English language proficiency, and there are 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 help reach many people in the Italian community in Victoria.
  • For place-based activities, the northern suburbs are where most of the community lives.
  • Older Italian people may prefer to be addressed with their title and surname rather than their first name.

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 Italian community live in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The City of Whittlesea is home to the largest Italy communities in Victoria with 27,879 people. The City of Merri-bek (previously Moreland) is next with 25,653 people.

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

Local government areaPopulation
Moonee Valley21,184
Greater Geelong12,143

Italy–born population

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


The two main languages spoken by the Italy-born population in Victoria are Italian (47,306) and English (15,591). While ‘formal’ Italian is spoken by the majority of the Italy-born population, there are many different dialects (for example, Sicilian) in Italy. This means that some Italy-born people, who speak a dialect may not understand ‘formal’ Italian.

English language proficiency

The Italy-born population in Victoria has high levels of English language proficiency:

  • 58% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 17% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 24.1% of the population speaks English only.


The Italy-born population identifies with the following religions:

  • Catholicism (85.4%)
  • Christianity (0.8%)
  • Jehovah’s Witness (0.8%)
  • no religion (8.7%).

Years of arrival

There have been two main points of arrival for the Italy-born population in Victoria. The majority (36.5%) of the population arrived from 1951-1960. The second wave of arrivals happened from 1961-1970 (35.9%).

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


In Italian culture, some older Italians prefer to use titles. Many younger Italian people do not follow this tradition when it comes to names.

Significant dates

The following are some key dates of significance:

  • Liberation Day – 25 April
  • Republic / Constitution Day – 2 June
  • St Anthony of Padua – 13 June
  • Francis of Assisi – 4 October
  • All Saints Day – 1 November.

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).