History of immigration from Zimbabwe

Map of Zimbabwe
Map date: 2013
Zimbabwe was previously Southern Rhodesia. The Victorian census of 1901 recorded a single female from ’Rhodesia’, but does not state whether she was from Southern Rhodesia or Northern Rhodesia (modern day Zambia). Seven Rhodesians were counted in the 1911 census.

Zimbabwe-born residents did not feature again in the Victorian census until 1981. The growth of the community in Victoria followed many years of political turmoil, trade sanctions and civil war at home, which resulted in almost one-fifth of Zimbabweans from British and European-backgrounds leaving the country between 1976 and 1980. Many went to the United Kingdom and South Africa, while some chose to settle in Australia.

Rhodesia gained formal independence from Britain in 1980, after which the Republic of Zimbabwe was formed. Zimbabwe’s political and civil unrest continued and emigration to Victoria rose. By 1981, the census records 609 Zimbabweans in Victoria. This number rose to 869 by 1986, and continued to rise before steadying at 970 in 1996.

During the late 1990s, the Government seizure of white-owned farms continued the emigration trend and saw the number of Zimbabwe-born Victorians grow to 1286. By 2011, this figure had increased to 3782.

Zimbabwe-born Victorians are predominantly Christian, with the largest denominations being Catholics (21%) and Anglicans (14%). A majority (53%) speak English at home. The next largest language group is the indigenous language Shona, which is spoken by 36% of Victoria’s Zimbabwean population. About 1% speak Afrikaans.

Many of Victoria’s Zimbabwe-born population are employed in white collar professions, including management, information technology and sales. By contrast, only 37 individuals are involved in any kind of agriculture-related employment.

The community is supported by The Zimbabwean Community in Australia (VIC) Inc. and various church organisations.

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