The top languages spoken in Australia confirms our changing diversity.

The Australian population as at the 2016 Census was 23.4m people, compared to 21.5m in 2011, up 8.8%.  The 2016 Census data released today confirms the changing face of Australia. Italian, is now the fifth most spoken language, other than English. It was number one at the 2006 Census and number two in 2011. 

One in five Australians now speak a language other than English at home.

Growth in Asian and Indian languages are obvious. The most dramatic is Mandarin, now almost double the next largest language group, Arabic. Mandarin has grown by over 170% in the decade to 2016. The total number of Chinese speakers (Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu and others) now exceed 927,000 (our earlier prediction of 1m was pretty close!).

Top 10 Languages Australia 2016 Census

The growth is even more obvious when we graphed the growth (or decline) of the top 5 languages spoken in Australia.

Top 5 languages spoken in Australia

Languages other than English spoken at home, 2016 Census.

You’ll hear dramatic stats about the number of people born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. This is potentially misleading because it includes those born in the UK, NZ, USA and other English speaking countries.

If you’re looking at targeting people from different cultures who might speak other languages then the table below might be more relevant.

Low English proficiency Australia

The number of people who speak a language other than English at home has increased by almost 1 million to 4.9m, which is 20.8% of the Australian population. The number of people with low English proficiency has also jumped to almost 820,000.