History of immigration from Sweden

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Map of Sweden
Map date: 2013
The first major influx of Sweden-born immigrants to Victoria occurred during the gold rush of the 1850s. It has been estimated that 1,500 Swedes lived in Victoria between 1857 and 1859. Based in the goldfields of Ballarat, Bendigo and McIvor, many Sweden-born immigrants eventually sought work on the land. Others settled in Melbourne as craftsmen and builders. The Swedish Club was formed in Melbourne in 1887.

Most Swedes in nineteenth century Victoria were men. In 1871, only 3% were women, and the gender imbalance continued well into the 1960s.

In the first half of the twentieth century the Sweden-born population of Victoria declined from 1,220 people in 1911 to 529 in 1947. This occurred despite the immigration of educated Swedish businesspeople during the 1920s, when trade links between Australia and Sweden were developing.

In 1952 the General Assisted Passage Scheme was applied to Scandinavia, but this had little effect on the ageing Sweden-born population of Victoria. By 1966, the population had increased by only 44 people.

The population rose slowly but steadily in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1996 there were almost as many Sweden-born people in Victoria as there were in 1911, with a total of 1,215 people. The 2011 census recorded 1,755 Sweden-born Victorians, the majority living in the inner bayside area of Melbourne. More than half were professional workers, and 36% were Christians. The Swedish Church in Toorak is a pivotal point for the community, fostering links with other Swedish and Scandinavian associations including the Swedish Department of the University of Melbourne, the Melbourne-Swedish Community School, the Scandinavian Choir and the Swedish Church in Sweden.

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