Pakistani community profile

Information about the Pakistani 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 migration of Pakistani people to Victoria has happened in different waves. The first wave was in the 1880s when Pakistanis came into Australia as cameleers. Until 1947, Pakistan was part of British–ruled India. However, the introduction of the White Australia Policy (The Immigration Restriction Act 1901) saw many people return home and migration remained low.

The second wave of migration occurred in the 1970s after the removal of the White Australia Policy (The Immigration Restriction Act 1901). Many Pakistanis who migrated during this period were educated, middle–class families who were mostly Muslims who formed a part of Victoria's diverse Islamic community.

The third wave happened in the 1990s and continues today. The Pakistani community grew significantly during this time. By 1996, the population of Victoria had more than tripled to 1,782. During this period, most people were accepted under the humanitarian, skilled migration and family reunion programs. This growth peaked between 2001 and 2010 when 5,816 Pakistan–born people arrived in Victoria. This growth has remained steady throughout the 2000s. Many of these recent arrivals were well–educated professionals and also students who had come to study in Victoria.

Pakistan community

The Pakistani community in Victoria is the second largest in Australia. There are 371,901 people in Victoria who have Pakistani ancestries, of which 30,945 were born in Pakistan.

The following ancestries have been included in defining the Pakistani community: Pakistani and Sindhi.

The gender breakdown for the Pakistani community is:

  • male: 18, 279 (59.1%)
  • female: 12,660 (40.9%).

Most of the Pakistani community are young, with the largest cohorts aged from 0–14 (33.5%) and 25–34 (24.0%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Pakistani community is a growing one, with many people arriving from 2016–2021.
  • The community has high levels of English language proficiency and may therefore understand information or resources in English.
  • Write in plain language. Use plain words, short sentences, headings, lists and other design elements to make information clear.
  • Digital channels can help reach the many young Pakistani people who live in Victoria.
  • For place–based activities, the south–western and south–eastern are where most of the community 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 Pakistani community live in Melbourne’s across the south–eastern and north–eastern suburbs.

The City of Wyndham is home to one of the largest Pakistani communities in Victoria with 5,530 people. The City of Hume is next with 4,724 people.

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

Local government areaPopulation
Greater Dandenong1,712

Pakistan-born population

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


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

  • Urdu (21,011)
  • Hazaragi (2,725)
  • English (2,216)
  • Pashto (2,174)
  • Sindhi (618)
  • Dari (595).­­­­­­­

English language proficiency

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

  • 85.6% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 6.7% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 7.2% of the population speaks English only.


The Pakistan–born population identify with the following religions:

  • Islam (93.1%)
  • Catholicism (1.6%)
  • Hinduism (0.7%)
  • no religion (1.8%).

Years of arrival

Most of the Pakistan–born population in Victoria arrived from 2016–2021 and 2011–2015.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


There are diverse naming practices in Pakistan because of the wide range of ethnic, regional and religious traditions. In Pakistani culture, names usually have an Arabic, Indo-Persian, or Turkish origin. Many people also add their tribe's name with their family’s surname, as tribal and familial identity is strongly respected.

Usually, Pakistanis will give the father's most commonly addressed name to the child as their last name. This also applies to some married females, who adopt their husband's most commonly addressed name as their surname. Many Pakistanis now adopt Western naming practices and will have a first name followed by a surname.

Significant dates

The following are some key national and religious dates of significance:

  • Kashmir Day – 5 February
  • Pakistan Day – 23 March
  • Labour Day – 1 May
  • Independence Day – 14 August
  • Eid al-Fitr - varies every year between March and April
  • Eid al-Adha - varies every year.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of birth QuickStats
  • SBS Cultural Atlas
  • Melbourne Museum
  • Encyclopedia of Melbourne (School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, in association with The University of Melbourne's eScholarship Research Centre).