According to the Australian Census of Population and Housing, the number of Greece-born migrants settled in Australia in the period 2006-2016 was 5,595, of which 4,721 arrived after 2011 (Field-Theotokatos, September 2019). Adding to the 5,595 Greek-born persons the Greek descent arrivals (born in Australia), then the total is estimated at 11,000, though it could be marginally higher due to continuous migration movements and some data limitations. The above figures show that Greek emigration to Australia in the period covering the Greek economic crisis has been very modest compared to the overall volume of the outflows from Greece, which are estimated at 427,000 persons between 2008 and 2017 (OECD, 2018). So, what are the main characteristics and settlement outcomes of the recent Greek migrants to Australia, how do they compare with those of all other recent migrants, previous groups of Greek migrants in Australia, and the migrants that left Greece in the same period?
Firstly, it is important to note that the distribution between Greek citizens and Australian citizens of Greek descent who arrived in Australia is 51.3% to 48.7% respectively. This is a critical distinction as it highlights the particularities of past ‘traditional’ Greek migrant destinations as compared to the new ones, especially the critical role of dual citizenship in affecting settlement outcomes. The majority of the new Greece-born arrivals emigrated as families, (53.6%) were married. There were more married persons among Greek citizens (63.3%) than Greek-Australian citizens (33.6%). Concerning the age composition, the two largest age cohorts are children (0-19) 35.2% or 1,905 persons, and persons aged 30-39, 22.2% or 1,238 persons. Τhe age cohort of 40-49 is also high, 16% or 896 persons, underlining the large proportion of Australian citizens of Greek descent among the new arrivals.
Regarding the geographical distribution of the new arrivals, the majority of them (77.4%) have settled in areas of high concentrations of Greek communities. Nearly half of them (48.5%) are settled in Victoria, mainly in Melbourne, and then in New South Wales (28.9%), mainly in Sydney. This pattern of settlement was due to various factors, such as prior geographical settlement experience of returnee dual citizens, the ‘pull’ factor of local Greek communities (social, cultural and economic), and specific economic activities in the areas of settlement.
The highest educational attainment of the new Greece-born arrivals in Australia is on the lower scale of attainment, displaying significant variations compared to all other migrant arrivals in Australia in the same period (2006-2016). Most of the new Greece-born arrivals have Secondary Level education (40.0%) – Year 10 and above - compared to 26.1% for all other new migrants in Australia. This is followed by holders of vocational education technical diplomas (14.1%), and then Bachelor Degree graduates (13.6%), compared to 9.3% and 31.9% respectively for all other new migrants. However, there is a significantly higher proportion of postgraduates among the new Greece-born arrivals (9.0%), compared to 1.5% of all other new migrants.
The overall proportion of university graduates among the new Greece-born migrants in Australia is low when compared to the general outflow from Greece. It has been estimated that 2 out of 3 people who emigrated from Greece since 2010 were university graduates (Labrianidis & Pratsinakis, 2016), whereas among the new Greece-born migrants in Australia this share is 23.5%. This divergence in educational attainments is explained by the large proportion (48.7%) of Greece-born Australian citizens among the new arrivals. The educational attainment of these individuals largely mirrors the lower scale of attainment of the general Greece-born population in Australia.
The labour market status of all new Greece-born migrants compared to previous groups of Greek migrants, all new migrants, and Australian-born, is generally very satisfactory. As of 2016 the labour market participation rate of all new Greece-born migrants was very high 73.6% -(78.8% for Australian born, 68.1% for all new migrants and 74.6% for pre-2006 Greece-born migrants), but with high levels of part-time work (27.9% to 22% for pre-2006 Greeks ). This was partly due to the nature of settlement of some of these migrants, such as adult students who are entitled to work only part-time work, types of economic activities, like a significant number of them working in the accommodation and hospitality sectors which have high proportions of part-time jobs. Unemployment for this group was somewhat higher (8.9%) compared to all new arrivals 7.3%.
The top three occupational groups among the new Greece-born migrants are technicians and trades workers (20.2%), labourers (19.6%) and professionals (15.4%) – professionals for all new arrivals is 26.1%. In comparison, in the UK the occupational status of new Greek migrants is extremely high with over 50% of them being professionals (Pratsinakis et al, 2019). For the new Greece-born migrants the link between their field of studies and occupational status is average. Half of the persons with specialised qualifications are working as professionals, but a significant number of them also work as labourers. For the other fields of studies the links with occupational status are lower.
Two industries of employment in Australia have attracted the largest percentage of new Greece-born migrants, accommodation and food services (18.3%) and construction (17.1%). The other notable concentrations are in retail trade (11.1%), health care and social assistance (9.8%) – mainly due to conscious recruitment efforts by Greek aged care institutions and services for the largely elderly Greece-born populations in Melbourne and Sydney – education and training (9.2%), and manufacturing (8.5%).
The new Greece-born migrants share the same top two income rankings as all new migrant arrivals, the highest (8.1%) being on the yearly total personal income of AUD$41,600-51,999, which is a good result. However, their representation above this income threshold (16.7%) is noticeably lower than that of all migrant arrivals (25.6%). This is mostly due to a high proportion of new Greece-born migrants working in a narrow range of industries and non-professional occupations, which have average to below average weekly earnings.
Overall, it could be said that considering the urgent circumstances and limited preparation that drove Greece-born persons to migrate and/or return back to Australia during the Greek economic crisis, their overall settlement outcomes have been very satisfactory.
Field-Theotokatos, H. (2019). ‘New temporariness, old permanency. Emigration of Greek citizens to Australia during the Greek economic crisis (2009-2016)’ in SEESOX Diaspora Working Paper Series, No. 3: 1-29.
Field-Theotokatos, H. (2019). ‘Main characteristics and settlement outcomes of Greece-born persons who emigrated to Australia during the Greek economic crisis’ in SEESOX Diaspora Working Paper Series, No. 10: 1-28.
Labrianidis, L. and Pratsinakis, M. (2016). ‘Greece’s New Emigration at Times of Crisis’, Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe, GreeSE paper 99. The London School of Economics and Political Science: Pp.1-38.
Greek Diaspora Team (2019). ‘Do expats want to vote? The voice from abroad on the facilitation of the vote for non-resident Greeks’ in in SEESOX the Greek Diaspora Project: 1-6.
Pratsinakis, M., King, R., Leon Himmelstine, C. and Mazzilli, C. (2019). ‘A Crisis-driven migration? Aspirations and experiences of the post-2008 South-European migrants in London’, International Migration, 58 (1), 15-3