Latin American community profile

Information about the Latin American 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’.

We have chosen the terminology ‘Latin American’ but encourage users of this profile to understand the nuance of the specific community they are trying to reach.


The Latin American community in Victoria is rapidly growing, with most of the community arriving from 2011–2020. Latin American people arrived in Victoria from many different countries. The top countries in order of population size are Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Argentina, El Salvador and Mexico.

There have been two main waves of migration. The first wave of migration happened between the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, many Latin–American people left the political turmoil in countries like Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil to settle in Victoria as refugees. Some Latin Americans also arrived during this period for economic or family reasons.

The second wave of Latin Americans arrived from the 2000s onwards. Many people settled in Victoria through the family reunion program. After 2008, there was a large increase in people arriving through the skilled migration program.

This second wave has continued, and Victoria's Latin American population has grown significantly between 2011 and 2020. The main countries people came from were Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. During this period, there was also an increase in the number of Latin American students who arrived in Victoria to pursue educational opportunities.

Victoria is still home to the third–largest Latin American community in Australia. Most Latin Americans live in Melbourne’s central and south–eastern suburbs.

Latin American community

The Latin American community in Victoria is one of the largest in Australia. There are 47,347 people in Victoria who have Latin American ancestries, of which 40,914 were born in Latin America.

The following ancestries have been included in defining the Latin American community: Argentinian, Bolivian, Brazilian, Chilean, Colombia, Costa Rican, Cuban, Ecuadorian, Guyanese, Mayan, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, South American, Uruguayan, and Venezuelan.

The gender breakdown for the Latin American community is:

  • male: 22,764 (48.1%)
  • female: 24,583 (51.9%).

Most of the Latin American population is young to middle aged, with the largest cohort aged 25–34 (24.8%) and 0–14 (22.8%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Latin American community is a growing one, with most of the community arriving between 2016 and 2021.
  • 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.
  • Print and radio channels can help reach Latin American people who are older.
  • Social media and digital can help reach younger Latin American people.
  • For place–based activities, most of the community lives in the central and south–eastern suburbs.
  • It may be culturally offensive to confuse a Spanish-speaking Latin American person with a Spanish person.

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 Latin American community live in Melbourne’s central and southern suburbs.

The City of Melbourne is home to one of the largest Latin American communities in Victoria with 3,831 people. The City of Casey is next with 2,486 people.

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

Local government areaPopulation
Port Phillip1,978
Moonee Valley1494

Latin American-born population

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


Latin Americans speak various languages based on their backgrounds and countries of origin.

Spanish is the most widely spoken language among Latin American–born people in Victoria. It is the native language of many Latin American countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Peru. Portuguese is another popular language and the official language of Brazil, the largest country in Latin America.

While Spanish and Portuguese are the most commonly spoken languages, many Latin American–born people may also speak languages or dialects specific to their regions or communities.

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

  • Spanish (28,250)
  • English (6,950)
  • Portuguese (4,431).

English language proficiency

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

  • 2% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 3% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 9% of the population speaks English only.


The Latin American–born population has a diverse range of religious beliefs and practices. Many Latin American–born people in Australia are Christians, and a significant proportion of them are Roman Catholic due to the historical influence of Catholicism in Latin America.

The Latin American–born population identify with the following religions:

  • Catholicism (58.0%)
  • Christianity (5.4%)
  • Pentecostal (1.8%)
  • No religion (8%).

Years of arrival

There have been several key points of arrival for the Latin American–born population in Victoria. Most of the population arrived from 2016–2021.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


The Latin American community is made of people from many different countries. This means that naming conventions are diverse and will depend on a person’s cultural background, family traditions and personal preferences.

The following are some common naming conventions within the Latin American community.

  • Latin American names often combine given names (first names) and surnames (last names). It's common for individuals to have both a first and a middle name, and sometimes even multiple given names. Many Latin American names have religious or cultural significance.
  • In many Latin American countries, people will have two surnames – their paternal and maternal surnames. In some countries like Brazil, the maternal surname is always placed before the paternal surname. While in other countries, like Mexico, the paternal surname is listed first, followed by the maternal surname. For example, if someone's father's last name is ‘García’ and their mother's last name is ‘López,’ then their full name might be ‘Juan García López.’
  • Some Latin American names have strong ties to cultural or religious traditions. For instance, names of saints, biblical figures, or indigenous names can be common, depending on the family's cultural background.
  • Latin Americans may sometimes combine their cultural naming conventions with English naming conventions. For example, a Latin American person may use a single given name and a single surname.

Significant dates

The Latin American community celebrates various cultural and national holidays and events that are significant to their heritage and identity. While the specific dates and celebrations may vary by country of origin and individual preferences, the following are some key dates and events of significance:

Independence Day: Many Latin American countries celebrate the day that they gained independence as a nation. These dates vary by country, and celebrations can include cultural festivals, food, music, and dance.

Some examples include:

  • Argentine Independence Day – 9 July
  • Brazilian Independence Day – 7 September
  • Colombian Independence Day – 20 July
  • Chilean National Day (Fiestas Patrias) – 8 September
  • Mexican Independence Day – 16 September.

Religious celebrations: Latin American people come from many different religious backgrounds and celebrate different religious days. Many Latin American–born people are Christians, and many in the community observe Roman Catholic dates of significance such as Easter and Christmas.

Some examples include:


  • Epiphany – 6 January
  • Joseph’s Day – 19 March
  • Holy Thursday – Varies each year.


  • Assumption of Mary – 15 August
  • All Saints Day – 1 November
  • Immaculate Conception – 8 December.


  • Ash Wednesday – varies each year
  • Easter Sunday – varies each year
  • Palm Sunday – 7 days before Easter.

Carnival (February/March)
Carnival is an important celebration that happens in many Latin American countries in the lead up to Lent. Many Latin American communities in Victoria organise Carnival celebrations which include parades, music, dance and elaborate costumes.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of birth QuickStats
  • Kath, E. & Del Río, V. (2022) Latin American Migrants in Australia: A Systematic Review of the Data and Literature, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research, 28:2, pp. 120–143.
  • Encyclopedia of Melbourne (School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, in association with the University of Melbourne's eScholarship Research Centre).