South Sudanese community profile

Information about the South Sudanese 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 the ethnic and linguistic complexity of the South Sudanese community and note that these profiles are not definitive.

There are limitations and challenges in assigning ancestry or ethnicity to a specific ‘community’, especially as defined by geographical borders.


South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation and was officially established on 9 July 2011 after decades of political struggle.

The South Sudanese community in Victoria is a relatively new one. Before 2001, South Sudan–born people arriving in Victoria were mainly skilled migrants.

Between 2001 and 2010, most South Sudanese people arrived in Victoria through the Australian Government’s Humanitarian Migration Program.

Drought, famine and war led to many South Sudanese people seeking refuge in neighbouring countries like Egypt, Kenya and Ethiopia. After living in refugee camps in these countries, many eventually resettled in Australia.

Melbourne has been a major destination for South Sudanese people because of its established community and social networks.

South Sudan community

The South Sudanese community in Victoria is the largest in Australia. There are 13,532 people in Victoria who have South Sudanese ancestry, of which 3,121 were born in South Sudan.

Many South Sudanese individuals continued to identify as Sudanese and Sudan–born. The following ancestries have been included in defining the South Sudanese community: Sudan, Acholi, Bari, Darfur, Dinka, Madi, Nubians and Nuer.

The gender breakdown for the South Sudanese community is:

  • male: 6,469 (47.8%)
  • female: 7,063 (52.2%).

Most of the South Sudanese community is young, with the largest cohorts aged from 0–14 (40.2%) and 15–24 (22.4%).

Insights for communication and engagement

The following are some key insights from the data for communicating and engaging with the South Sudanese community:

  • The South Sudanese community is a relatively new community, with most people arriving from 2001– 2010.
  • 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.
  • Social media and digital channels can be helpful for reaching the many South Sudanese people who live in Victoria.
  • For placed–based activities, the south–western and western 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 South Sudanese people live in Melbourne’s south–western and north–western suburbs.

The City of Wyndham is home to the largest South Sudanese communities in Victoria with 2,654 people. The City of Melton is next with 2,174 people.

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

Local government areaPopulation
Greater Dandenong782
Greater Geelong254

South Sudan-born population

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


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

  • Arabic (3,005)
  • Dinka (876)
  • English (549)
  • Nuer (207)
  • Tigrinya (179)
  • Amharic (102).

English language proficiency

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

  • 79.2% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 11.7% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 7.9% of the population speak English only.


The South Sudan–born population identify with the following religions:

  • Catholicism (39.4%)
  • Anglican (22.3%)
  • Christianity (11.7%)
  • Presbyterian (6%)
  • no religion (6%).

Years of arrival

The South Sudan–born population is a relatively new community, with most of the population arriving between 2001 and 2010 (74.3%).

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


Many South Sudanese people have different surnames than their family members. This is because Sudanese surnames are not usually spoken verbally and during their migration their middle names were recorded as their last name.

Many South Sudanese are named after their past family members, like their grandfather or uncle. Some Sudanese names are also chosen to reflect the circumstances of their birth. It is also common for many South Sudan people to have English first names.

Significant dates

Many South Sudanese celebrate dates or events that celebrate South Sudan’s independence as a new nation.

The following are some key dates of significance:

  • Peace Agreement Day – 9 January
  • Sudan People’s Liberation Army Day – 16 May
  • Independence Day – 9 July
  • Martyrs’ Day – 30 July
  • Constitution Day – 5 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).