Portuguese community in Australia
The Portuguese community estimated at 61,847 according to the 2011 census, is small compared with the 478,000 Greeks or about 1 million Italians, but celebrates its identity through food and cultural celebrations.
Especially visible in Petersham a Sydney suburb lined up with Portuguese restaurants and cafés. There every year takes place the Portuguese Petersham Fair that gathers a crowd of 16,000 people including many Australians.
Beyond Sydney and Wollongong, in the state of New South Wales, there are significant Portuguese communities especially in Victoria (Melbourne) and in the state of Western Australia (Freemantle).
However the Portuguese community in Australia is primarily made of Portuguese descendants, 46,519 and at a smaller scale from Portuguese born in Portugal 15,328 (2011 census).
Nevertheless in recent years we have noticed an increase in the number of Portuguese who choose Australia to study and to migrate to.
The difference between the first generation of Portuguese, born in Portugal, and these newcomers is that they are mostly highly skilled, predominantly from urban centres speak English and arrive usually alone without family.
Most are young people who come to study or work, for the experience of living in another country, or more often due to the lack of opportunities in their country of origin.
Unlike their predecessors who have excelled mainly in manufacturing they are in all areas from students, engineers, researchers, doctors, nurses, businessmen, actors, scientists and the like.
On the other hand difficulties in obtaining their visa and remaining here are greater than that of the preceding generation.
In the labour market there is a tendency for young Portuguese on student visas to come with or without a labour contract initially finding work in hospitality and tourism. In Sydney many begin to work in one of the Portuguese cafes or restaurants of Petersham.
While the ones who come with a work visa have an easier time finding a job in a professional area more compatible with their technical and professional qualifications.
Since 2008, the beginning of the financial crisis, it has also been notable an increase in student visas in the country. 960 visas were issued to Portuguese students in 2011. A number that is not greater due to the costs involved in moving to Australia. There are also cases of Portuguese born in Australia who are now returning to the so called ‘land of opportunity’.
When it comes to social life the Portuguese arriving now can easily find other Portuguese, given the proliferation of clubs and associations in all states and even the existence of a Portuguese neighbourhood in Sydney.
However most clubs, associations and cultural groups are almost exclusively recreational and are more popular among mature age groups and during festive seasons.
Despite several attempts in the past, some more successful than others, there is not still a centre or state association or national support services that combine social, economic, professional and integration services for newcomers and the resident community.
However given that Australia is a multicultural country most government services have information in various languages and there are many organizations with the purpose of supporting local communities, is always possible to find some kind of support.
In Sydney there are some social support services but these are mainly the elderly, as the newly created Association of the Portuguese Speaking Communities founded in 2012, located in Sydney, and a day centre for the elderly.
There is also the Council of Portuguese Communities in Australia, which channels the needs of the Portuguese-speaking communities in Australia to the Portuguese government. Ana Pereira is the advisor to the Council of Portuguese Communities (CCP), Asia and Oceania, in office since 2003.
The Council also led to the creation of the Community of Portuguese Language (CLP) which organizes the only two Portuguese festivals in Victoria: the annual festival on June 10, Day of Portugal and of the Portuguese speaking Communities, and the Warrnambool festival, which takes place every two years in Victoria.
The greatest source of information for the community are Portuguese language programs on various radio stations in the country, while Portuguese lessons given in various state schools and the many sporting and recreational clubs help maintain cohesive community and celebrate a vibrant culture and Portuguese cuisine.
Where to find the Portuguese community?
- In various clubs and associations across the country
- In Portuguese cafes and restaurants in Petersham, Sydney
- The monthly meetings of Portuguese meetup held in Sydney and Melbourne
- the two annual Portuguese festivals
- listening to the radio in Portuguese and seeing our events page to find out about upcoming events for the Portuguese speaking communities near you
- through the various Facebook groups in Australia
- word of mouth - after meeting a Portuguese, is always 10 more ...
- And of course socializing and going to Portuguese-speaking events, like the Brazilian Rhythm Festival, the Brazilian Film Festival, East Timor Culture & Food Festival and many others. To learn about upcoming Portuguese speaking events near you visit our Events page.
To see the list of Portuguese associations in Australia, visit our page useful information.
The street with more Portuguese food per square meter is Canterbury Road, in Petersham, Sydney.
Portuguese food is already known and liked by Australians, especially the grilled Portuguese chicken (piri-piri chicken), form Nandos, the Oporto hamburgers, the pastel de nata (custard tart) sold in some cafes and supermarkets, cod (cod) and sardines (sardines) sold at the Portuguese Food and wine Festival of Petersham which takes place every year in March
However out of the Portuguese neighbourhood and elsewhere in Sydney is hard to find Portuguese restaurants and so many Australians still do not know well the Portuguese cuisine.
If you want to know more about Portuguese cuisine click here.
The Portuguese speaking community in Australia is made up mostly of Brazilians, followed by East Timorese and a few Portuguese speakers from the diaspora.
Portuguese is the 34th most spoken language in Australia. The first is English followed by Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Cantonese and Greek.
The neighbourhood that gathers more Portuguese speakers per square meter is Earlwood, in Sydney, with 633 speakers, about 10km from the centre of Sydney and not far from the Portuguese district of Petersham (2011 census).
Other suburbs with a large number of Portuguese speakers are: Marrickville and Dulwich Hill with 566 and 315 speakers of Portuguese, whilst so called Portuguese neighbourhood, Petersham, has a much smaller number of speakers (220).
In Victoria the neighbourhood with the highest percentage of speakers of Portuguese is Point Cook, southeast of the West Gate Bridge, representing 0.3 per cent of the population of this suburb. Another suburb that has the same number of speakers is Reservoir, north of Melbourne, where the Portuguese Club Sol de Portugal is located.
To see the percentage of speakers of Portuguese in your neighbourhood click here.
Community diversity and distance to their homeland prevents frequent cultural language and history exchanges. This has led the community to ask for a greater involvement of Portugal in supporting the dissemination and teaching of Portuguese in Australia.
A justifiable concern given that the percentage of Portuguese descendants who speak Portuguese has declined despite the existence of Portuguese classes in most states.
According to the census of 2011, only 11,419 of the Portuguese who answered the census said they spoke Portuguese at home.
Portugal recently, in February 2013, appointed a coordinator for Portuguese Education and Culture in Australia something that the Portuguese community had been asking for a long time.
Hopefully Susana Teixeira Pinto, the current Coordinator of Portuguese Education and Culture in Australia, is able with the help of Portuguese teachers and schools to promote the teaching of the Portuguese language.
To learn more about the teaching of the Portuguese language in Australia click here.