Diaspora: An Important and Neglected Dimension of Australia's Demography

Graeme J. Hugo, University of Adelaide

Although Australia is best known as a country of immigration, around one million Australians currently live outside of their homeland on a permanent or long term basis. This paper uses quantitative and qualitative data sources to assess the extent to which Australia’s expatriate community fulfils the five defining criteria of contemporary diasporas by Butler (2001). These criteria include being a scattering of two or more destinations, a relationship to an actual or imagined homeland, awareness of one’s group identity, making allowances for multiple identities and existence over at least two generations. It finds that the Australian expatriate community qualifies on the basis of at least four of those criteria. It is argued that Australia’s diaspora constitutes a meaningful and distinctive group and represents an important subject. It is a significant but neglected part of Australia’s demography, reflected in the Australian Senate setting up an Inquiry into the Australian expatriate community.

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Presented in Session 125: Migration, Migrants, and Places