A Malaysian Australian is an Australian person who is from or has ancestral ties to Malaysia. The term is not precise, as a significant number of Australians from Malaysia are not indigenous Malays but are overseas Chinese, Indian and other groups. There are also ethnic Malays in Australia who came to Australia prior to the establishment of Malaysia, or come from other regional countries including Singapore and Brunei.
At the 2006 Census 92,335 Australian residents stated that they were born in Malaysia. 64,855 Malaysian born Australian residents declared having Chinese ancestry (either alone or with another ancestry), 12,057 declared a Malay ancestry and 5,848 declared an Indian ancestry.
Malaysian Australians are well established in Australia. Slightly more than half (46,445) had Australian citizenship, and 47,521 had arrived in Australia in 1989 or earlier. 32,325 spoke English at home, 24,347 spoke Cantonese, 18,676 spoke Mandarin and 5,329 spoke Bahasa Melayu. Malaysian Australians were resident in Melbourne (29,174), Sydney (21,211) and Perth (18,993).
Although Malaysia has a 60% Muslim population, only 5% of Malaysian-born Australians cited Islam as their religion in the 2006 Census.
Malay labourers were brought over to Australia to work mainly in the copra, sugarcane, pearl diving and trepang industries. In the case of Cocos Islands, the Malays were first brought as slaves under Alexander Hare in 1826, but were then employed as coconut harvesters for copra. However, there were no historical facts that prove that the Malays settled in mainland Australia and east coast until the late 19th century, where they not only work in the trepang or pearl diving industry, but also in sugarcane plantations.
In Western Australia and Northern Territory, Malay pearl divers were recruited through an agreement with the Dutch. By 1875, there were 1800 Malay pearl divers working in Western Australia itself. Most of them returned home when their contract is expired. The Immigration Restriction Act in 1901 severely curtailed the growth of this community.
From the 1950s onwards Malaysians came to Australia to study under the Colombo Plan, with many choosing to stay in Australia after graduation. Their numbers increased following the end of the Immigration Restriction Act in 1973. As Malaysia's affluence increased, more students came to study as self-financed students.
|name||Born - Died||Notable for||Connection with Australia||Connection with Malaysia|
|Chong Lim||musician, music director||lives in Australia||born Malaysia|
|Kamahl||1934-||singer||lives in Australia; immigrated 1953||born Malaysia|
|Guy Sebastian||1981-||singer||lives in Australia; immigrated as child||born Malaysia|
|Pria Viswalingam||1962-||documentary and film maker||works in Australia||born Malaysia|
|James Wan||1977-||producer, screenwriter, and film director||brought up in Australia and studied there||born Malaysia|
|Julian Yeo||jazz/cabaret vocalist|