Thai community profile

Information about the Thai 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 Thai people to Victoria remained relatively low until after the 1980s. There was a slight increase in the Thai population because of the Colombo Plan (1950s), which allowed Thai students to study in Australia.

The first wave of Thai people arriving in Victoria happened during the 1980s and 1990s, which saw a significant increase in the number of Thai students arriving in Australia. This increase also included Thai–born spouses and children of Australians arriving under the family migration program.

The working holiday visa program and other temporary visa schemes have also brought younger Thai people to Victoria, some of whom transitioned to longer–term visas or sought permanent residency.

By 2001, half of the Thai-born population in Victoria had arrived in Melbourne. Many Thais settled in local government areas of Melbourne, Greater Dandenong, and Boroondara. The 2021 Census reveals that the Thai–born population continues to grow in Victoria. Since the 2000s, there has been a steady number of arrivals, which peaked between 2016 and 2021 at 6,003 people.

Thai community

The Thai community in Victoria is one of the largest in Australia. There are 20,430 people in Victoria who have Thai ancestry.

The gender breakdown for the Thai community is:

  • male: 6,709 (32.8%)
  • female: 13,271 (67.2%).

Most of the Thai community is young to middle–aged, with the largest cohorts aged from 35–44 (23.5%) and 25–34 (22.3%).

Insights for communication and engagement

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

  • The Thai community is a growing one, with many people arriving between 2016 and 2021.
  • The community has medium 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 media can help reach the many young and middle–aged Thai people who live in Victoria.
  • For place–based activities, most of the community lives in the central Melbourne and the south–eastern suburbs.

For more insights about communicating with multicultural audiences read the:

Better practice guide for multicultural communications
PDF 3.35 MB
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Better practice guide for multicultural communications - accessible version
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Many people in the Thai community live in Melbourne’s central and south–western suburbs.

The City of Melbourne is home to one of the largest Thai communities in Victoria with 2,114 people. The City of Wyndham is next with 1,051 people.

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

Local government areaPopulation
Greater Dandenong935
Greater Geelong624

Thailand-born population

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

There are 21,059 people who were born in Thailand and live in Victoria.


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

  • Thai (11,994)
  • English (4,237)
  • Karen (2,680)
  • Khmer (448)
  • Burmese (410)
  • Vietnamese (185).

English language proficiency

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

  • 63.7% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 15.8% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 20.1% of the population say they speak English only.


The Thailand–born population identify with the following religions.

  • Buddhism (64.8%)
  • Baptist (7.2%)
  • Catholicism (3.2%)
  • Islam (2.5%)
  • no religion (13.6%).

Years of arrival

There are three significant points of arrival for the Thailand-born population: 2001–2010, 2011–2015 and 2016–2021. Most of the Thai–born population arrived during these three periods.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage
1951-1960 70.0


In Thai culture, names usually begin with a given/first name and then family/surname. The surname is usually passed down from the father’s side of the family. Most women will take their husband’s surname upon marriage.

Children are not always named immediately after birth in Thai culture. It is common for children to be given a nickname (see below) before their official name is decided.

Most Thai people have a nickname that is usually one or two syllables long. Many Thai people use this nickname more often than their official name. Friends or co–workers may not need to learn their full name.

In formal settings, people use their official names. It is also common to use titles based on a person’s occupation.

Significant dates

The Thai community sometimes follows the lunar calendar so festivities and dates of significance may vary yearly.

The following are some key dates of significance:

  • New Year's Day (Wan Khuen Pi Mai) – 1 January
  • Buddha Day – varies each year
  • Thai New Year (Songkran) – 13 April with celebrations extending to 15 April
  • Makha Bucha Day – varies each year
  • Buddhist Lent Day – varies each year in July.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of birth QuickStats
  • SBS Cultural Atlas
  • Museums Victoria
  • The Migrant Information Centre (Eastern Melbourne).