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Polish community profile

Information about the Polish 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 Polish community is well established in Victoria, with Polish–born people settling in large numbers during the Victorian gold rush period (1850s). Many of these people were political refugees and well educated, finding work as engineers, teachers, and businesspeople.

The second wave of migration occurred after World War II. The aftermath of the war brought a significant number of Poles and Polish Jews to Australia as Displaced Persons. As a result, the Polish community increased five–fold in Victoria between 1947 and 1954.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, many more Polish people arrived through the Family Reunion Program. In the 1980s, the population increased due to Poland's unstable political and economic situation. After this, the number of Polish arrivals in Victoria slowly decreased after 1990 due to some return migration and the lack of new arrivals.

Polish community

The Polish community in Victoria is the second largest in Australia. There are 62,568 people in Victoria who have Polish ancestries, of which 14,202 were born in Poland.

The gender breakdown for the Polish community is:

  • male: 29,567 (47.3%)
  • female: 33,001 (52.7%).

The largest cohorts are aged between 65 years and over (24.5%) and 35–44 (16.3%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Polish community is an established one, with many people arriving between 1981–1990.
  • 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.
  • Radio and print may help reach the many Polish people who live in Victoria.
  • For placed–based activities, the south–eastern suburbs are where the majority 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 Polish community live in Melbourne’s south–eastern suburbs.

The City of Glen Eira is home to one of the largest Polish communities in Victoria with 6,226 people. The City of Casey is next with 2,949 people.

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

Local government areaPopulation
Glen Eira6,226
City of Greater Geelong2,877
Port Phillip2,047

Poland–born population

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


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

  • Polish (9,288)
  • English (4,228).

English language proficiency

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

  • 60% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 9.6% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 29.8% of the population say they speak English only.


The Poland–born population identify with the following religions.

  • Catholicism (65.1%)
  • Judaism (5.8%)
  • Seventh–day Adventist (1.8%).
  • no religion (18.3%).

Years of arrival

There are three significant periods of arrival for the Poland–born community: 1971–1980, 1981–1990 and 1991–2000. Most of the Poland–born population in Victoria arrived in these three periods.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


In Polish culture, names usually follow this order: [Given name] [Family Name]. Many Polish given names have Slavic roots and have an added suffix (such as –ek or –uś) to create an informal nickname. For example, Jan may be called Janek. Most Polish family names are passed on from the father’s side of the family and usually end in a suffix, such as ‘-SKI’ or ‘–WICZ.’ Polish family names can also reflect a place of residence or birth or based on a nickname surrounding an occupation or character description.

Significant dates

The following are some key dates of significance:

  • Epiphany – 6 January
  • Easter – varies each year
  • Labour Day – 1 May
  • All Saints’ Day– 1 November
  • Independence Day – 11 November
  • St Nicholas Day – 6 December
  • Christmas – 25 December.

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)
  • Museums Victoria.