Russian community profile

Information about the Russian 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 main waves of Russia–born people arriving in Australia coincided with key political events and uprisings in Russia. The first Russian Revolution of 1905 saw many Russians flee and seek new lives in Australia. These included highly educated students, teachers and academics.

After World War II, many Russians arrived on assisted passages from Displaced Persons camps in Europe. A further group who had fled to China after the Revolution began to immigrate in the 1950s. In 1954, the number of Russian–born people in Victoria increased from 1,401 in 1947 to 13,762 people.

During the mid–1970s, several Russian Jews arrived under the sponsorship of the Jewish community in Australia. The 1990s onwards saw a significant increase in Russia–born people arriving in Victoria. This was a result of the break–up of the former Soviet Union and the emergence of the Russian Federation. This growth has remained steady throughout the 2000s. Many of these arrivals were well–educated professionals who understood the English language well.

Russian community

The Russian community in Victoria is the second largest in Australia. There are 27,398 people in Victoria who have Russian ancestries, of which 6,955 were born in Russia.

The gender breakdown for the Russian community is:

  • male: 11,968 (43.7%)
  • female: 15,532 (56.3%).

Most of the Russian community is older to middle–aged, with the largest cohorts aged 65 years and over (19.2%) and 35–44 (16.8%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Russian community is a growing one, with many people arriving from 1991–2000.
  • 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 media and digital channels can help reach the many young to middle–aged people in the Russian community who live in Victoria.
  • For place–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
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Better practice guide for multicultural communications - accessible version
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Many people in the Russian community live in Melbourne’s south–eastern suburbs.

The City of Glen Eira is home to one of the largest Russian communities in Victoria with 4,365 people. The City of Kingston is next with 1,937 people.

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

Local government areaPopulation
Glen Eira4,365
Port Philip1,255

Russia-born population

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


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

  • Russian (5,197)
  • English (1,281).

English language proficiency

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

  • 68.1% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 12.8% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 18.4% of the population speak English only.


The Russia–born population identify with the following religions.

  • Eastern Orthodox (27.6%)
  • Judaism (13.2%)
  • Christianity (7.3%)
  • no religion (41.6%).

Years of arrival

Most of the Russia–born population in Victoria arrived from 1991– 2000 and 2001–2010. Only 1.5% arrived from 1951–1960.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


In Russian culture, names usually follow this order: [First name] [Middle patronymic name] [Surname]. The middle patronymic name is created using the child’s father’s name with the suffix ‘vich’ or ‘ovich’ for boys, and ‘avna’ or ‘ovna’ for girls. This means ‘son of’ and ‘daughter of’. In casual settings, people use first names to address each other. While in a more formal setting, the first name and middle names are used. Russians do not use titles such as ‘Mr and ‘Mrs’. It is also not usual to address someone using their surname face–to–face.

Significant dates

The following are some key dates of significance:

  • Old/Russian Orthodox New Year – 13 January
  • Defender of the Fatherland Day – 23 February
  • International Women’s Day – 8 March
  • Victory Day – 9 May
  • Russia Day – 12 June.

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).