SAE Researches on Hellenism Australia


1. The Greek population

1.1 Concise historical retrospection

According to the oral tradition, the first Greek that came to Australia was Damianos Gikas, that was transported to the Sydney as a convict in 1802. It is said that Gikas was a captain from Hydra, was arrested unfairly as pirate by an english vessel and was condemned in exile to Australia.However, this history cannot be confirmed with certainty, while there aren’t any proves in the files of Australia or Greece.It appears however that this history emanated from the real history of the first greeks in Australia.These first greeks that landed in Australia were seven young men from Hydra, that arrived there in 1828, condemned as pirates from the English Justice.According to the historical sources, five of them were repatriated in 1836, showing that they were rather patriots than common pirates.

The first free greek emigrants that came to Australia were possibly some marine named John Peters, and came to Sydney in 1838, while the first reek woman was named Ekaterini Plessa, and came to Australia in 1853.Thus,a little before the discovery of the rich deposits of gold in Australia, there must have been no more than 4-5 Greek living there.This discovery did not increase particularly the migration tendency from Greece to Australia, as it happened with immigrants from other countries.The result was that in 1880 roughly 150 Greeks lived in Australia, even if the total population of the country had almost been tripled – mainly because of the new emigrants.

The main immigratory current from Greece to Australia the 19th century began after 1880.The 1891 census reported the existence of 482 individuals being born in Greece.That number, as all the others that were reported in census or estimates, is somehow conservative, while it does not include the Greeks that were born in Australia, as well as those who, for some reason, did not want to be recorded as Greeks.These emigrants were mainly from Cythira, Ithaca and Kastellorizo, and they were those that set the foundations of the Greek – Australian community and caused the phenomenon of the continuous migration, which led to the increase the number of Greeks in Australia to 878 individuals in 1901 and 1.798 individuals in 1911.The increase of the Greek population in Australia continued with the same pace even after 1950. Thus, in 1921 the Greek population of Australia counted 3.654 individuals being born in Greece, while in 1933 there were 8.337 Greeks in Australia and in 1947 12.291.
After 1952 the increase of the Greek element in Australia was rapid.Indeed, from 1953 until 1956, almost 30.000 Greeks came to Australia as immigrants, increasing thus the hellenism of Australia to 25.862 individuals in 1954.The migration from Greece escalated from 1961 until 1966, a period at which roughly 69.000 Greeks were installed in Australia.The Greeks were 77.333 in 1961 and 160.200 in 1971.After 1970 the immigratory current was decreased once again drastically, while had already begun a reverse transfer of emigrants back to Greece, a fact that (with the deaths) had as result the reduction of the Greek -Australian being born in Greece to 152.908 individuals in 1976, 146.625 in 1981, and 137.611 in 1986.Naturally, these numbers do not correspond to the total of the Greek element of Australia, since they concern only the individuals that had been born in Greece, that is to say the first generation immigrants. Without fall they give a relatively precise sense of mobility of Greeks to Australia and an estimate about the total of the Greek element in Australia.

1.2 The present Greek population of Australia

1.2.1 Total elements

It is known that the elements according to the official census cannot be used as a base for the calculation of the population of the Greek element.Generally this applies to all the countries of reception of Greek immigrants and not only for Australia.The main reason is that makes census elements relatively inadequate for reliable estimates is that it refers only to the Greek emigrants whose both or one of their parents were have been born in Greece, to Greek emigrants that have been born in Greece, but none of their parents had been born birth there and naturally to Greek emigrants that havee been born in Greece. There are not included the Greek emigrants whose both parents have been born in Australia, that is to say the Greek-Australians of second, third, and fourth generation, neither the Greek emigrants from Cyprus, neither the Greek emigrants that haven’t been born in Greece.Occasionally there have been presented in the bibliography various estimates, that raise the total Greek population of Australia to 700.000 or 750.000 in 1980.Other calculations report the Greek element to almost 400.000 individuals.

The Australian census of 1986 is helping considerably in the determination of the Greek population of Australia.According to the facts of that census (the elements from the newer census still have not become available), the total population of Greek origin in Australia is, 137.611 individuals (70.687 men and 66.924 women) of first generation (being born in Greece) and 137.688 individuals of second generation (being born in Australia with both or one of their parents having been born in Greece).The total rises to 275.299 individuals.

However, in a question that was raised for the first time in that census, “What is your origin?”, 336.782 individuals answered that they were of Greek origin. This number includes individuals that have been born in Australia (49.8%), in Greece (39.3%), in Cyprus (4.8%), in Egypt (2.5%), elsewhere (2.5%), while a 1.1% did not answer.It should be marked that in the question were not given explanations as for what it means “origin”, in consequence each one gave its own interpretation of the term.The total population of Australia in 1986 was 15.602.156, accordingly those of Greek origin represent the 2.16%.

Important it is the fact that from the population that had been born in Greece (first generation), a 3% declares being of “Macedonian” origin, separating it from the Greek origin.In Western Australia, this percentage reaches the 23.9%.

We believe, therefore, that the calculations that estimate the population of Greeks of Australia to 400.000 individuals, are the most reliable.

1.2.2 Geographic distribution

The current geographic distribution of first and second generation Greeks in Australia does not have great differences.Specifically, 46.79% live in Victoria, 32.93% in New South Wales, 10.25% in South Australia, 3.87% in Queensland, 3.38% in the Western Australia, 1.22% in Australian Capital Territory, 0.96% in the New Territories, and 0.60% in Tasmania.

This population is in the majority urban.Indeed, the first generation lives at 95.6% in the 12 big Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Geelong, Brisbane, Gold Coast-Tweed, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin, Canberra-Queanbeyan), while 77.4% live in Melbourne and Sydney. Roughly half of this population (47.6%) lives in Melbourne.

1.2.3 Age

The age-related profile of the first and second generation differs considerably. A great percentage of emigrants first generation is in the age-related team of 30-54 years old (64.4%) and the rest in the age-related team of the 0-4 years old (0.2%). The average age of the emigrants that had been born in Greece is 46.2 years. The corresponding average in Australia is 31.1 years. Only a percentage of 1.5% is less than 15 years old, while the corresponding percentage in the population of Australia despite origin is 23.3%. This low percentage is because of the low migration from Greece to Australia nowadays.

We can therefore say that the Greek element of first generation in Australia is aged.Men are more than women (the corresponding percentages are 51.4% and 48.6%), but in certain age-related teams (30-54 and 65 +) women are more. It’s indicative that this characteristic, the supremacy of men, is observed continuously in all the periods of history of the Australian hellenism and in certain of them is indeed particularly intense, particularly in the beginning of the century, when a percentage of 95% of the Greeks in Australia were men.

On the contrary, the bigger percentage of those of second generation is found in the age-related team of 5-14 years (31.8%) and the smallest in the age-related team of 65 + years (0.6%).Thus, the Greek element of second generation is rather young in age.

1.2.4 Time of staying in Australia

This paragraph concerns only the emigrants of first generation, that means those who had been born in Greece.Their average time of staying in Australia is 22.7 years, while most of them were installed in Australia in the period 1962-1966. A percentage of 22.5% live in Australia more than 30 years, while hardly a percentage of 4.6% live in Australia less than 10 years.

1.2.5 Citizenship

Compared to emigrants of other nationalities, the Greeks of Australia appear to have a bigger rate of acquisition of the Australian of citizenship.Indeed, a percentage of 90.7% being born in Greece have acquired the Australian citizenship. This percentage risesd to 95% for those that live in Australia more than 20 years.

1.3 The Greek family of Australia

1.3.1 Typical composition

The representatives of the homogeny organisations estimate that a typical family of Greek emigrants in Australia is constituted, in average, by 4-5 members (parents and 2-3 children or parents and 2 children, grandfather and grandmother).
The marriages of the emigrant Greeks are held in a very big percentage in church (religious) and in a smaller percentage in the Town Hall. The sampling research showed that ecclesiastical marriages are estimated to represent a percentage of 94% of the total of marriages.The same happens with the christenings.

The Greek emigrants form families with greek spouses.The sampling research showed that it is estimated that it happens in a percentage of 75.5% of the marriages.

The Greek emigrants is estimated to preserve close relations with their relatives and their friends in Greece.This is also expressed with the frequency that they have visits from the Metropolis.The main causes of those visits are estimated to be tourism, studies, reasons of health as well as professional reasons.The more frequent visits (with a percentage of 71,4%) are due to tourist reasons.

1.3.2 Tendency for repatriation

The tendency of the Greek emigrant for returning in Greece is a fact unquestionable, and appers to have an elation nowadays.

The Greek emigrants of Australia confirm this tendency.The representatives of the homogeny organisations estimate, in a percentage of 57%, that there is a tendency of returning in Greece.

The estimate is that this tendency is shown in the families in which the two spouses are Greek of origin.On the contrary it is estimated that the tendency of repatriation doesn’t exist when one of the spouses is not of Greek origin. This fact is confirmed, so much in Australia, as in Canada and in the USA.

Most representatives of the homogeny organisations estimate that the positive tendency for repatriation is the natural consequence of the following phenomena:

The nostalgia and love for the homeland, as well as for the relatives and friends that live in Greece.

The bad economic situation or the unemployment that plague often the Greek emigrants.

The prevailing social situation, particularly in the USA, as well as the low quality of life in the overseas countries.

Nevertheless, there are enough representatives of the homogeny organisations, who estimate that the tendency for repatriation is decreased, as a consequence of the following phenomena:

The incorporation of the Greek emigrants in the local cultural and social models, particularly the emigrants of second and third generation.

The long economic recession that plagues the Greek economy, as well as the emerged increase of unemployment that is noticed the last years in Greece.

The Greek emigrants of Australia and Canada appear to have a greater tendency for repatriation (57.1%) than the Greek emigrants of the USA (42.5%).

1.3.3 The position of the elders

The families of the Greek emigrants include, as it was analyzed previously, emigrants of second, third and perhaps fourth generation.The confrontation of the elder representatives, in a family of emigrants, is a fact that interests particularly, since it can be used for the cross-correlation of familial relations between emigrant families and families that reside in Greece.

The first characteristic that was recorded has to do with the place of residence of the parents, when their children crete their own family.According to the results of our sampling research, it is estimated that, when such thing happens, then they leave from their parents house, so that they can live with their spouse.

The second characteristic has to do with the dealing with the elders or ill parents by their children, with relation to their place of residence. According to the results of our sampling research, it is estimated that the elders or ill parents reside usually alone.

1.3.4 social problems

The society of Australia is plagued by a series of social problems, as all the modern societies.From these problems, the Greek emigrants estimate that the most serious of them that they and their families face are basically the unemployment, as well as the separation from the members of the family (in Greece), the social isolation and the racism.On the contrary, the problem of drugs,the alcoholism and the criminality appear to be rather of minor importance for the Greek emigrants of Australia.