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Lebanese Australians
Steve Bracks David Malouf Bachar Houli
Notable Lebanese Australians:
Steve Bracks, David Malouf, Bachar Houli
Total population
181,751 (by ancestry, 2006)

74,848 (by birth, 2006).[2][3]

Regions with significant populations
Sydney (72.8% of Lebanese born Australian residents), Melbourne, Brisbane

Australian English, Arabic


Majority Christian (53%), large minority Muslim (40%)[4]

Related ethnic groups

Arab diaspora, Sierra Leonean-Lebanese, Lebanese Americans, Lebanese Canadian, Ecuadorian of Lebanese origin, Lebanese Brazilian, Arab Argentine, Lebanese British, Arab Mexican

Lebanese Australian refers to Australian citizens and permanent residents of Lebanese descent. The community is multi-religious, and includes a Christian, mostly Maronite Catholic, majority, as well as a large Muslim minority of both the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam, and various other Christian and Muslim denominations, as well as other religions.

Lebanon, in both its modern-day form as the Lebanese state (declared in 1941) and its historical form as the region of The Lebanon, has been a source of migrants to Australia for over two centuries. Some 181,751 Australians claim a Lebanese ancestry, either alone or in combination with another ancestry.[1] The 2006 census recorded 74,848 Lebanon-born persons in Australia,[2] with 72.8% of all people with Lebanese ancestry living in Sydney, where they make up 2.3% of Sydney's population.[5]

In New South Wales, the Western Sydney suburbs of Bankstown, Lakemba and Punchbowl are largely associated with the Lebanese population, as in Victoria are the Northern Melbourne suburbs of Broadmeadows and Coburg, Brunswick, Fawkner and Altona.


Community history

As part of a large scale emigration in the 1870s, numerous Lebanese (mostly Christians) migrated in great numbers out of Lebanon to various destinations. Most emmigrated to Brazil and other Latin American nations, particularly Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Many also went to the United States, and others to Australia, primarily to the eastern states, and most to New South Wales in particular.[6][7]

Thus, Australia's Lebanese population is one of the older established non-English speaking minorities in the country. Although it is considerably smaller in numbers to Greek Australians, Italian Australians or German Australians, they are nonetheless of a similar vintage.

In the 1890s there were increasing numbers of Lebanese immigrants to Australia, part of the mass emigration from the area of the Lebanon that would become the modern Lebanese state, and also from the Anti-Lebanon region of what would become Syria.[8]

Under the White Australia policy of the nineteenth century (and with Lebanon being located in in the Middle East, geographically known as South West Asia) Lebanese migrants were classified as Asians and came within the scope of the White Australia policy which intentionally restricted non-white immigration to Australia. Lebanese migrants, like others deemed non-white by Australian law, were excluded from citizenship, the right to vote and employment, and were treated as enemy aliens during World War I and World War II.[6] In 1897 Lebanese store keepers and businesses were accused of fraud by state border Customs officers during Queensland customs prosecution cases.[8]

Prior to 1918, Lebanese migrants to Australia were not habitually distinguished from Turks because the area of modern Lebanon was a province of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Administration then passed to the French Mandate for several decades, which ruled it together with what would become Syria, it's neoghbour. Hence, for that period, the Lebanese were not distinguished from Syrians.[9]

One dot denotes 100 Lebanon born Sydney residents
One dot denotes 100 Lebanon born Melbourne residents

From 1920 people from Lebanon (and Syria) were granted access to Australian citizenship as the Nationality Act 1920 removed the racial disqualification from the naturalisation laws.[8]

By 1947, there were 1,886 Lebanese-born in Australia,[10] almost all Christian. The Lebanese born population numbered 24,218 in 1971 and had doubled to 49,617 in 1981.[10] Following the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, more than 20,000 civil war refugees arrived in Australia.[10] This wave of migrants were often poor and for the first time, over half of them were Muslim.[10] This influx of new migrants changed the character of the established Lebanese community in Australia significantly, especially in Sydney where 75 percent of the Lebanese born population were concentrated.[10]

For the remainder of the 1970s and 1980s, unrest in Lebanon caused a large increase in the number of Lebanese migrating to Australia, continuing with a significant proportion being comprised by Muslims.

In 1991 there were 68,787 people who were first generation immigrants born in Lebanon and 67,453 second generation people associated with Lebanon as a birthplace.[11]

The Lebanese in Melbourne have opened restaurants and groceries and middle eastern shops and Lebanese bars on Sydney Road which is sometimes called Little Lebanon. [12]

Following the trials for a series of gang rape attacks in Sydney in 2000 by a group of Lebanese, the Lebanese Muslim Australian community came under significant scrutiny by the media in addition to a more general anti-Muslim backlash after the September 11, 2001 attacks.[13] Community concern and divisiveness continued in the wake of the 2005 Cronulla riots in Sydney.[14]

Religious diversity

Most Lebanese people today live outside of Lebanon. Because of the prolonged emmigration of Lebanese Christians for the last two centuries (leading to their depletion in Lebanon itself), today, an estimated 55% of Lebanese in Lebanon is Muslim (having become the majority in the last two to three decades). Of the Lebanese outside of Lebanon, known also as the Lebanese diaspora, the majority is Christian. Overall, when the diaspora population and the population of Lebanon is combined, Lebanese Christians still outnumber Lebanese Muslims 3 to 1.

In Australia, a majority of 53% of Lebanese is Christian, while a large minority of 40% is Muslim, of those born in Lebanon.[4]

All main Lebanese religious groups — Christians, including Maronite Catholics, Melkites, Lebanese Greek-rite Orthodox, Lebanese Greek-rite Catholics; Lebanese Muslims, including Shi'a and Sunnis denominations; Druze, amongst others — are now represented. [15]

Genetic research yielded so far indicates the Lebanese trace descent from the region's earliest known inhabitants, the Phoenicians, regardless of their membership to any of Lebanon's different religious communities today (except the Druze). "The genetic marker which identifies descendants of the ancient Levantines is found among members of all of Lebanon's religious communities"[1] Lebanese Christians and Muslims, are thus, the same genetic population.

The Lebanese were Arabized in language and culture following the Muslim conquest, however the majority remained Christian, only a minority converted to Islam, though they too were originally Christians. Christianity itself was introduced several centuries earlier, so too Aramaic (Western Aramaic), which was the spoken language of the Lebanon prior to Arabic, although this language too was a foreign introduced language. Prior to all this, Phoenician (most closely related to Hebrew) was the original indigenous language of the ancestors of the modern Lebanese people and Phoenician polytheism the original indigenous religion.

Return Migration

Lebanese Australians have a moderate rate of return migration to Lebanon. In December 2001, the Department of Foreign Affairs estimated that there were 25,000 Australian citizens resident in Lebanon. [16]

During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Australian Government organised mass evacuations of Australians resident in Lebanon. [17]

Notable Lebanese Australians

Name Born – Died Notable for Connection with Australia Connection with Lebanon
Anthony Alexander Alam 1896–1983 member of the New South Wales Legislative Council born Australia parents born Lebanon
Ron Bakir 1977 Mobile phone retailer emigrated to Australia born in Lebanon
Max Basheer 1927 Former administrator with the South Australian National Football League born Australia parents born Lebanon
Marie Bashir 1930 Governor of New South Wales born Australia parents born in Lebanon
Steve Bracks 1954 Former Premier of Victoria born Australia paternal grandfather born in Lebanon
Firass Dirani 1984 actor born Australia of Lebanese origin[citation needed]
Sam Doumany[18] Former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in Queensland
Hazem El Masri 1976 Canterbury Bulldogs Rugby league player migrated to Australia as child born Lebanon
Nazih Elasmar 1954 member of the Victorian Legislative Council migrated to Australia born Lebanon
Benny Elias 1963 Former National Rugby League player migrated to Australia as a child born Lebanon
Ahmad Elrich 1981 International Football (soccer) player born Australia Lebanese descent
Tarek Elrich 1987 Newcastle United Jets Football (soccer) player born Australia Lebanese descent
Robbie Farah 1984 Wests Tigers Rugby league player born Australia father emigrated from Lebanon c. 1960
Joe Hachem 1966 2005 World Series of Poker champion migrated to Australia as child born Lebanon
Milham Hanna former Australian rules footballer with Carlton grew up in Australia born Lebanon
Joe Hasham 1948 actor emigrated to Australia as infant born in Lebanon
Bachar Houli 1988 Essendon Bombers Australian Rules Football player born Australia parents born Lebanon
Sabrina Houssami 1986 2006 Australian representative at Miss World born Australia Lebanese father
Tamara Jaber[19] 1982 member of pop band Scandal'us born Australia Lebanese father
Bob Katter, Sr. 1918–1990 member for Federal Division of Kennedy 1966-1990 born Australia Lebanese descent
Bilal Khazal Al-Qaeda associate, jihadist, Qantas baggage handler working Australia born Lebanon
Tim Mannah 1988 Parramatta Eels Rugby League player born Australia Lebanese descent
David Malouf 1934 writer born Australia father Lebanese
Daryl Melham 1954 member of the Australian House of Representatives born in Australia father migrated from Lebanon
Cesar Melhem 1965 Victorian state secretary of Australian Workers' Union migrated to Australia born in Lebanon
Feiz Mohammad Fundamentalist cleric born in Australia
Tony Mokbel 1965 convicted drug trafficker and prison fugitive emigrated to Australia Born in Kuwait father originally from Lebanon
Fehmi Naji 1928 Grand Mufti of Australia born in Lebanon
Paul Nakad 1975 actor and hip hop artist born Australia Lebanese descent
Jacques Nasser 1947 Former CEO of Ford Motors raised in Australia born Lebanon
Eddie Obeid 1943 NSW Member of the Legislative Council, former NSW Minister for Fisheries and Mineral Resources amd key power broker in the NSW Right of the ALP working in Australia born Matrit (also spelt Metrit) Bsharri District
Barbara Perry NSW parliamentarian born Australia parents born Lebanon
Roger Rasheed 1969 international tennis coach and former player born Australia father migrated from Lebanon
Nicholas Shehadie 1926 Lord Mayor of Sydney (1973-1975) born Australia of Lebanese descent
Bilal Skaf 1981 led a series of gang rape attacks in Sydney in 2000 born Australia parents born Lebanon and emigrated to Australia
John Symond Founder and Managing Director of Aussie Group born Australia parents born Lebanon
Keysar Trad Muslim community spokesman migrated to Australia born in Lebanon
Doris Younane 1963 Actress born in Australia Parents born Lebanon

See also


  1. ^ a b "20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex - Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  2. ^ a b "20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex - Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  3. ^ Australian Bureau of STatistics 2006 Census
  4. ^ a b "3416.0 - Perspectives on Migrants, 2007: Birthplace and Religion". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2008-02-25. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  5. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census using table 2006 Census Tables : Sydney (Statistical Division) 20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex - Sydney 54,502 people living in the Sydney statistical division were born in Lebanon out of a population of 4,119,192.
  6. ^ a b "El Australie - a history of Lebanese migration to Australia". Hindsight - ABC Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  7. ^ "History of immigration from Lebanon". Origins:Immigrant Communities in Victoria. Museum of Victoria. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  8. ^ a b c Monsour, Anne (2005). "Chapter 10. Religion Matters: The experience of Syrian/Lebanese Christians in Australia from the 1880s to 1947". Humanities Research Journal (online version) (Australian National University E Press) Vol. XII No 1, 2005: Bigotry and Religion in Australia, 1865-1950. ISSN 1834-8491. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  9. ^ This was a common enough practice in Australian immigration information — for example, the UK and Ireland were not statistically separated until as late as 1996).[citation needed]
  10. ^ a b c d e Humphrey, Michael (2004). "Lebanese identities: between cities, nations and trans-nations". Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) (Association of Arab-American University Graduates) (Winter): page 8. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  11. ^ Jupp, James (1995-01-01). "Ethnic and cultural diversity in Australia". 1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 1995. Australian Bureau of Statistics.!OpenDocument. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  12. ^ "Little Lebanon in Melbourne". Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  13. ^ "... For Being Lebanese". Four Corners (TV program). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2002-09-16. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  14. ^ jackson, Liz (2006-03-13). "Riot and Revenge (Program transcript)". Four Corners (TV program). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  15. ^ "Australian Communities: Lebanese Australians". 2006-01-19. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  16. ^ "Estimates of Australian Citizens Living Overseas as at December 2001". Southern Cross Group (DFAT data). 2001-02-14. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  17. ^ "Govt to foot Lebanon evacuation bill". ABC News. 2006-07-22. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  18. ^ "Anthony Alexander Alam - Political Leader". Australian Lebanese Historical Society. 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  19. ^ "Tamara Jaber Biography". Take 40. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 

External links

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