History of immigration from Fiji

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Map of Fiji
Map date: 2013
Fiji-born people have been settling in Victoria since the 19th century. During the 1870s, while the population of Victoria declined, the Fiji-born population of Victoria increased five-fold, with 95 community members by 1881. Most were of European descent, and the increase may have been related to the annexation of Fiji by Great Britain in 1874.

The Fiji-born population of Victoria increased slowly during the first decades of the 20th century, with the White Australia Policy preventing non-European Fijians from immigrating. Those who did arrive were the families of Christian missionaries who originally came from Australia or Europe. By 1933, 214 Fiji-born people lived in Victoria.

Immigration from Fiji to Australia began to increase after Fiji became independent from Great Britain in 1970. Attracted by Australia’s employment and economic opportunities, the Fiji-born population in Victoria quadrupled to 2,271 in the fifteen years prior to 1986.

Two military coups in Fiji in 1987, aimed at securing indigenous Fijian control over the government, caused concern amongst the large Indian population in Fiji. In 1990 a new constitution which guaranteed indigenous Fijian control led to considerable Indian emigration. By 1991, the Fiji-born community in Victoria had increased to 5,120 people.

In 2011, 9,714 people in Victoria were Fiji-born. Over 60% spoke Hindi at home, and half were Hindu. Christians made up 26% of the community. The population today consists of several ethnic and racial groups, but the majority are of Indian descent. One quarter work in professional roles; many others work in production, transport and as labourers.

Immigrants from Fiji have largely settled in Melbourne, particularly in Berwick, Hallam and Cranbourne. Some work in the fruit-growing areas around Robinvale in north-eastern Victoria. Religion is a focal point for community activity as there are a number of Fijian churches in Melbourne. Fiji Day on the 10th October is celebrated each year, with a festival in Melbourne.

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