Syrian community profile

Information about the Syrian 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.


In Victoria, migrants from Syria were recorded in the 1891 census when the population was 142. These early immigrants fled the Ottoman persecution, economic struggles, and agricultural hardships. Following World War II, there was an increase in the Syrian–born community in Victoria. The community grew from 67 people in 1954 to 403 by 1971. This growth trend continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

By 1986, the Syrian community had risen to 959 residents. In five years, it had further increased to reach 1,519 individuals. As of 2011, Victoria was home to 2,261 Syrian immigrants. These people work in the retail and manufacturing sectors. Some of them also work in professional positions.

Syrian community

The Syrian community in Victoria is one of the largest in Australia. There are 11,077 people in Victoria who have Syrian ancestries, of which 7,802 were born in Syria.

The following ancestries have been included in defining the Syrian community: Syrian and Kurdish.

The gender breakdown for the Syrian community is:

  • male: 5,687 (51.3%)
  • female: 5,390 (48.7%).

Most of the Syrian community is young to middle aged, with the largest cohorts are aged 0–14 (22.4%), 35–44 (16.9%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Syrian community is relatively small with most of the population arriving recently between 2016 and 2021.
  • The community has medium to high levels of English language proficiency, and there are many in the community who may require in–language information, resources or in-person support.
  • Write in plain language. Use plain words, short sentences, headings, lists and other design elements to make information clear.
  • Digital channels can be helpful for reaching many Syrians in Victoria.
  • For place–based activities, the north–western suburbs are where the majority of the population 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 Syrian community live in Melbourne’s north–western and north-eastern suburbs.

The City of Hume is home to one of the largest Syrian communities in Victoria with 3,152 people. The City of Whittlesea is next with 2,180 people.

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

Local government areaPopulation
Mooney Valley403

Syria-born population

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


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

  • Arabic (5,378)
  • Assyrian Neo–Aramaic (1,680)
  • English (247)
  • Armenian (184)
  • Kurdish (82)
  • Chaldean Neo–Aramaic (49).

English language proficiency

The Syria–born population in Victoria has medium levels of English language proficiency:

  • 65.1% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 31.3% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 3.2% of the population speaks English only.


The Syria–born population identify with the following religions:

  • Islam (24.8%)
  • Catholic (20.3%)
  • Eastern Orthodox (17.9%)
  • Assyrian Apostolic (12.4%)
  • Christianity (10%).

Years of arrival

There have been two main points of arrival for the Syria–born population in Victoria: 2016–2021 (53.8%) and 2011–2015 (16.3%).

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


Syrian names are generally Arabic. The format is personal name, fathers personal name and surname. Many Syrian Muslims use names from Islam and Christians use biblical names. In marriages, Arab women do not change their names, but some adopt their husband’s family name.

Significant dates

The Syrian community celebrates various cultural and religious holidays. These dates will vary depending on a person’s religion, heritage and identity. The following are some key dates of significance:

  • New Year’s Day – 1 January
  • Independence Day – 17 April
  • Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad
  • The holy month of Ramadan – varies each year.
  • Good Friday– varies for Orthodox Christians each year.
  • Eidh al-Adha – varies each year
  • Christmas – 25 December.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of birth QuickStats
  • SBS Cultural Atlas
  • Museums Victoria.