Punjabi speakers have almost doubled in Australia in five years

Children at a Punjabi writing workshop during Vaisakhi celebration in Melbourne. Source: Supplied

The percentage of people speaking only English at home has declined from 76.8 per cent in 2011 to just over 72 per cent in 2016.

While there were over 300 separately identified languages spoken at home in Australia in 2016, Punjabi has emerged as the fastest growing language spoken at home.

The number of Punjabi speakers in Australia has nearly doubled in the last five years with the Punjabi-speaking community now a 132,496 (0.6% of the total population) strong.

In the last Census, 71,229 Punjabi speakers were counted which was 0.3% of the total population. That has almost doubled now.

Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese and Vietnamese are the top four languages spoken at home in Australia.

Though most Australians speak English at home (72.7%) but it has declined from 76.8% recorded in the previous Census.

Other languages that have seen a decline in the number of speakers at home are Italian and Greek.

The number of Hindi speakers jumped from 111,351 (0.5%) in the 2011 Census to 159,652 (0.7%) in 2016.

A chart of top ten languages spoken at home in Australia.

Over 40% of the overseas-born population spoke only English at home in 2016. Of those who spoke a language other than English at home:

  • 8.3% spoke Mandarin
  • 3.5% spoke Cantonese
  • 3.1% spoke Vietnamese.

Of the overseas-born people who had arrived in the past 25 years, 11% either did not speak English well or at all in 2016. For earlier migrants (those arriving before 1991) this number was lower at 8.3%. 

While most people born in Australia spoke English at home (91%), 8.1% spoke another language. Apart from English, the most common languages spoken at home in 2016 were Greek (0.8%), Arabic (0.8%) and Italian (0.7%).

For more news and updates, follow SBS Punjabi on Facebook and Twitter.