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Lebanese Australian

Lebanese Australians
Total population

203,139 (Lebanese Ancestry)[1]

76,451 (Lebanese Born)
Regions with significant populations
Sydney (72%of Lebanese-born Australian residents), Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth
Australian English, Lebanese Arabic, Standard Arabic, French, Armenian

Majority: Christian: Greek Orthodox, Maronite Catholic, Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic (55%)

Minority: Islam: Shia Islam, Sunni Islam, Alawite (37%),[2] Jewish, Druze and Atheist (8%)
Related ethnic groups
Egyptian Australians, Syrian Australians, Armenian Australians, Jewish Australians, Arab diaspora, Lebanese diaspora, Maltese Australians, Arab Australians, Lebanese British, Lebanese Americans, Lebanese Canadians, Lebanese Brazilians, Lebanese Argentines, Lebanese Ecuadorians, Lebanese Mexicans

A Lebanese Australian is a citizen or permanent resident of Australia of Lebanese ancestry. This Australian community is extremely multicultural, having a large Christian religious base, being mostly Maronite Catholics and Greek Orthodox, while also having a large Muslim group of both the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam.

Lebanon, in both its modern-day form as the Lebanese state (declared in 1920, granted independence in 1943) and its historical form as the region of the Lebanon, has been a source of migrants to Australia for over two centuries. Some 203,139 Australians claim Lebanese ancestry, either alone or in combination with another ancestry. According to 2011 Estimates 76,459 Lebanese-born people in Australia, with 72% of all people with Lebanese ancestry living in Sydney,

In New South Wales, the Western Sydney suburbs of Bankstown, Lakemba, Auburn, Granville, Strathfield, Parramatta, Punchbowl and Redfern (From 1840s to 1960s), Marrickville (From 1870s to 1950s) and Surry Hills (From 1840s to 1940s) are largely associated with the Lebanese population, as in Victoria are the Northern Melbourne suburbs of VictoriaCoburg, Brunswick, Fawkner and Altona.


  • Community history 1
  • Religious diversity 2
  • Return migration 3
  • Notable Lebanese Australians 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Community history

As part of a large scale emigration in the 1840s, numerous Lebanese (mostly Christians) migrated in great numbers out of Lebanon to various destinations. Most emigrated to Brazil and other Latin American nations, particularly Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Many also went to the United States, Canada, and others to Australia, primarily to the eastern states, and most to New South Wales in particular.[3][4]

Thus, Australia's Lebanese population is one of the older established non-English speaking minorities in the country (though many Lebanese people now speak English, to a greater or lesser extent). Lebanese Australians are of similar vintage to Greek Australians, Italian Australians, and German Australians.

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 mountains region of what would become Syria.[5]

Under the White Australia policy of the nineteenth century (and with Lebanon being located 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.[3] In 1897 Lebanese store keepers and businesses were accused of fraud by state border Customs officers during Queensland customs prosecution cases.[5]

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, its neighbour. Hence, for that period, the Lebanese were not distinguished from Syrians.[6]

People with Lebanese ancestry as a percentage of the population in Sydney divided geographically by postal area, as of the 2011 census
One dot denotes 100 Lebanese-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.[5]

By 1947, there were 2000 Lebanese-born in Australia,[7] almost all Christian. The Lebanese born population numbered 5000 in 1971. Following the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975-1990, more than 30,000 civil war refugees arrived in Australia.[7] This wave of migrants were often poor and for the first time, over half of them were Muslim.[7] This influx of new migrants changed the character of the established Lebanese community in Australia significantly, especially in Sydney where 70% of the Lebanese-born population were concentrated.[7]

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. Lebanese in Sydney have followed a distinctive occupational pattern characterised by high levels of self-employment, particularly in petty commercial activities such as hawking and shopkeeping. In 1901, '80 per cent of Lebanese in NSW were concentrated in commercial occupations' – in 1947, little had changed, as 60 per cent of Lebanese were 'either employers or self-employed'. Even in the 1991 census, Lebanese men and women were 'noticeably over-represented as self-employed'. [21] 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".[8]

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 attacks in 2001.[9] Community concern and divisiveness continued in the wake of the 2005 Cronulla riots in Sydney.[10] In 2014, a series of documentaries on Lebanese Australians was presented by SBS under the title Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl.[11]

Key events and organisations

There are now many Lebanese-Australian business groups, businesses and events aimed primarily at engaging the large Lebanese community in Australia and strengthening ties between Australia and Lebanon.

The peak business body is the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce, with associations in both Sydney and Melbourne.

A Lebanese Film Festival has been launched in Sydney for 2012. This will showcase Lebanese arts and culture through film and becomes the premier showcase of Lebanese cinema outside of Lebanon.[12]

Religious diversity

Most Lebanese people today live outside of Lebanon. Because of a higher birth rate among Muslims,[13] and the prolonged emigration of Lebanese Christians for the last two centuries (leading to their depletion in Lebanon itself), today, an estimated 54% of Lebanese in Lebanon are Muslim (having become the majority in the last three decades). Of the Lebanese outside of Lebanon, known also as the Lebanese diaspora which numbers from 8[14] to possibly 14 million,[15] the vast majority are Christian (between 70%-80%).

In Australia, 55% of Lebanese are Christian, while a large minority (37%) are Muslim.[2]

All main Lebanese religious groups — Christians, including Maronites, Melkites, Greek Orthodox, Protestants, Orthodox and Catholic Lebanese Armenians, Muslims, including Shi'a and Sunnis denominations; Druze, amongst others — are now represented.[16]

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 30,000 Australian citizens resident in Lebanon.[17]

During the

  • Australian Lebanese Historical Society
  • Lebanese-Australian Embassy
  • United Australian Lebanese movement
  • World Lebanese Cultural Union (WLCU) Geographic-Regional Council (GRC) for Australia and New Zealand
  • Anne Monsour and Paul Convy - Australian Lebanese Historical Society (2008). "Lebanese". (History of Lebanese in Sydney)  

External links

  1. ^ "The People of Australia – Statistics from the 2011 Census" (PDF). Australian Government. 
  2. ^ a b "3416.0 - Perspectives on Migrants, 2007: Birthplace and Religion". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2008-02-25. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  3. ^ a b ries/2008/2143183.htm "El Australie - a history of Lebanese migration to Australia" . Hindsight -  
  4. ^ "History of immigration from Lebanon". Origins:Immigrant Communities in Victoria. Museum of Victoria. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  5. ^ 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) XII (1, 2005: Bigotry and Religion in Australia, 1865–1950).  
  6. ^ 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).
  7. ^ a b c d 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. 
  8. ^ "Little Lebanon in Melbourne". Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  9. ^ "... For Being Lebanese".  
  10. ^  
  11. ^ Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl at SBS On Demand, 3 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014
  12. ^ Lebanese Film Festival:
  13. ^ Chamie, Joseph (1981), Religion & Fertility: Arab Christian- Muslim Differentials, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 
  14. ^ Bassil promises to ease citizenship for expatriates
  15. ^ "Country Profile: Lebanon".  
  16. ^ "Australian Communities: Lebanese Australians". 19 January 2006. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  17. ^ "Estimates of Australian Citizens Living Overseas as at December 2001" (PDF). Southern Cross Group ( 
  18. ^ "Govt to foot Lebanon evacuation bill".  
  19. ^ Kazzi, Antoine. Brilliant Faces. Sydney: El-Telegraph, 2009. (ISBN 9780646519135) page 83. This project that describes the achievements of 300 notable Arab Australians was funded by the Australian Government.
  20. ^ McWhirter, Erin (6 February 2010). "Underbelly's Firass Dirani - the day I met John Ibrahim, the King of the Cross". Retrieved 11 April 2010. 
  21. ^ "Anthony Alexander Alam - Political Leader". Australian Lebanese Historical Society. 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  22. ^ "Tamara Jaber Biography". Take 40. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 


See also

Name Born – Died Notable for Connection with Australia Connection with Lebanon
Houssam Abiad 1976 Entrepreneur and Deputy Lord Mayor City of Adelaide born in Australia parents born Lebanon
Anthony Alexander Alam 1896–1983 member of the New South Wales Legislative Council born in Australia parents born Lebanon
Joseph Assaf 1945 Multicultural Businessman has Australian Citizenship born in Lebanon
Mireille Astore[19] 1961 Artist and writer emigrated to Australia born in Lebanon
Ron Bakir 1977 Mobile phone retailer emigrated to Australia born in Lebanon
Ahmed Fahour 1966 Banker, former CEO of Citibank, former CEO of NAB's operations, and current CEO of Australia Post Born in Australia
Khalil Eideh 1954 CEO of Bluestar Logistics and member of the Victorian Legislative Council born in Lebanon (Tripoli)
David Basheer 1966 Sports Presenter and Commentator born Australia Mother born in Lebanon
Max Basheer 1927 Former administrator with the South Australian National Football League born in Australia parents born Lebanon
Marie Bashir 1930 Governor of New South Wales born in Australia parents born in Lebanon
Steve Bracks 1954 Former Premier of Victoria born in Australia paternal grandfather born in Lebanon
Michael Cheika 1967 Head coach of the Wallabies and the New South Wales Waratahs born in Australia Parents born in Lebanon
Firass Dirani[20] 1984 Actor born in Australia of Lebanese descent
Sam Doumany[21] 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 soccer player born in Australia Lebanese descent
Tarek Elrich 1987 Newcastle United Jets soccer player born Australia Lebanese descent
Robbie Farah 1984 Wests Tigers Rugby league player born in Australia father emigrated from Lebanon c. 1960
Buddy Farah 1978 FIFA agent - Ex soccer player born in Australia of Lebanese descent
Faydee 1987 Pop / R&B singer, songwriter born in Australia of Lebanese descent
Joe Hachem 1966 2005 World Series of Poker champion migrated to Australia as child born in 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 Australian Rules Football player born in Australia parents born in Lebanon
Sabrina Houssami 1986 2006 Australian representative at Miss World born in Australia Lebanese father
John Ibrahim 1970 Underworld figure born Australia
Tamara Jaber[22] 1982 Singer born in Australia Lebanese father
Jessica Kahawaty 1988 Beauty pageant contestant who came third in Miss World 2012 when representing Australia born in Australia Lebanese descent
Bob Katter, Sr. 1918–1990 member for Federal Division of Kennedy 1966-1990 born in Australia Lebanese descent
Bob Katter 1945 member for Federal Division of Kennedy 1993 born Australia Lebanese descent, son of Katter, Sr.
Bilal Khazal Jailed Al-Qaeda associate, jihadist, Qantas baggage handler working in Australia born in Lebanon
Tim Mannah 1988 Parramatta Eels Rugby League player born in Australia Lebanese descent
David Malouf 1934 writer born in 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
Andrew Nabbout 1998 footballer for Melbourne Victory born in Australia Grandparents from Lebanon & offered a spot in the Lebanon national football team
Fehmi Naji 1928 Grand Mufti of Australia born in Lebanon
Paul Nakad 1975 actor and hip hop artist born in Australia Lebanese descent
Jacques Nasser 1947 Former CEO of Ford Motors raised in Australia born Lebanon
Eddie Obeid 1943 Corrupt former Member of the NSW Legislative Council, former Minister for Fisheries and Mineral Resources working in Australia born Matrit (also spelt Metrit) Bsharri District
Barbara Perry NSW parliamentarian born in Australia parents born Lebanon
Roger Rasheed 1969 international tennis coach and former player born in Australia father migrated from Lebanon
Michael Reda 1972 International football player born in Australia Lebanese descent
Travis Robinson 1987 International rugby league football player born in Australia Lebanese descent
Reece Robinson 1987 International rugby league football player born in Australia Lebanese descent
Joseph Saba 1940 Fashion designer born in Australia Lebanese descent
Nicholas Shehadie 1926 Lord Mayor of Sydney (1973–1975) and member of Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame born in Australia of Lebanese descent
John Symond Founder and Managing Director of Aussie Group born in Australia parents born Lebanon
Keysar Trad 1967 Muslim community spokesman migrated to Australia born in Lebanon
Salim Wardeh 1968 Minister of Culture in Lebanon has Australian citizenship
Petra Yared 1979 Australian television actor born in Australia Lebanese descent
Doris Younane 1963 Actress born in Australia Parents born Lebanon

Notable Lebanese Australians


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