During the nineteenth century, Singapore was a growing trading post and capital of the British Straits Settlements. Although few Singaporeans migrated to Australia, some Chinese came to Australia through Singapore, including labourers and gold rush miners. By 1871 the Singapore-born community in Victoria was still small, with a population of only 25. Men out-numbered women by three to one. Most arrivals from Singapore during the next 30 years were also men.
In 1901, only 39 Victorians were Singapore-born. The introduction of the White Australia Policy
that year limited further growth of the community, and it declined until World War II, when evacuees began to arrive. By 1954, 259 Victorians were Singapore-born. The establishment of the Colombo Plan
in the same decade saw increasing numbers of Singaporean students living in Victoria, albeit temporarily.
The population grew further as the White Australia Policy
was relaxed. By 1971, the Singapore-born community of Victoria had increased to 1,152, and the growth continued.
During the mid 1980s increasing numbers of fee-paying students from Singapore arrived. Between 1986 and 1996 the size of the community in Victoria doubled to 6,557 people.
In 2011, 13,638 Victorians were Singapore-born. Today most live in urban Melbourne, and 33% are aged between 15 and 29, reflecting the high proportion of students. Many are employed as professionals, and work in property and business services.
The Singapore-born population in Victoria is predominantly of Chinese ethnicity, followed by Malay and Indian. Almost half are Christians; a further 20% are Buddhists or Muslims. The most common language spoken at home is English, followed by Mandarin and Cantonese.
Organisations supporting the Singaporean community in Victoria include the Merlion Club, which fosters business networks and community fellowship.