Turks first began to emigrate to Australia from the island of Cyprus for work in the 1940s, and then again when Turkish Cypriots were forced to leave their homes during the Cyprus conflict between 1963 and 1974. Furthermore, a large scale of Turkish immigrants began to arrive in Australia once a bilateral agreement was signed between Turkey and Australia in 1967. Recently, smaller groups of Turks have begun to immigrate to Australia from Bulgaria, Greece, Iraq, and the Republic of Macedonia. Now it is estimated that the Turkish Australian Population exceeds 200,000. Turkish Australians have several Turkish and English weekly newspapers, 25 private Turkish schools and more than 20 mosques all around Australia.
The presence of Turkish people in Australia dates back to the early 19th century, although at the time there were only about 20 Turkish settlers. Their number increased to 300 by the 1911 census. Their number declined during the First World War when Australia and Turkey fought on opposite sides.
Turkish Cypriot migration
A notable scale of Turkish Cypriot migration to Australia began in the late 1940s; they were the only Muslims acceptable under the White Australia Policy. Prior to 1940, the Australian Census recorded only three settlers from Cyprus that spoke Turkish as their primary language. A further 66 Turkish Cypriots arrived in Australia in the late 1940s, marking the beginning of a Turkish Cypriot immigration trend to Australia. By 1947-1956 there were 350 Turkish Cypriot settlers who were living in Australia.
Between 1955-1960, the island of Cyprus’ independence was approaching; however, Turkish Cypriots felt vulnerable as they had cause for concern about the political future of the island when the Greek Cypriots attempted to overthrow the British government and unite Cyprus with Greece (known as “enosis”). After a failed attempt by the Greek Cypriots, the right-wing party, EOKA, reformed itself from 1963–1974 and launched a series of attacks in a bid to proclaim “enosis”. These atrocities resulted in the exodus of Turkish Cypriots in fear for their lives, many migrating to Australia and Britain.Early Turkish Cypriot immigrants found jobs working in factories, out in the fields, or building national infrastructure. However, some Turkish Cypriots became entrepreneurs and established their own businesses once they had saved enough money.
Once the Greek military junta rose to power in 1967, they staged a coup d’état in 1974 against the Cypriot President, with the help of EOKA B, to unite the island of Cyprus with Greece. Thus, there was an exodus of more Turkish Cypriots to Australia due to fears that the island would unite with Greece. The Greek coup led to a military offensive by Turkey who divided the island. In 1983 the Turkish Cypriots declared their own state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which has remained internationally unrecognised except by Turkey. The division has led to an economic embargo against the Turkish Cypriots by the Greek Cypriot controlled Government of Cyprus, effectively depriving the Turkish Cypriots of foreign investment, aid and export markets. Thus, the Turkish Cypriot economy has remained stagnant and undeveloped; Turkish Cypriots have continued to leave the island in search of a better life in Britain, Australia, and Canada.
Mainland Turkish migration
On 5 October 1967, the governments of Australia and Turkey signed an agreement to allow Turkish citizens to immigrate to Australia. Prior to this recruitment agreement, there were less than 3,000 people of Turkish origin in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nearly 19,000 Turkish immigrants arrived from 1968-1974. The first Turkish immigrants were greeted at Sydney International Airport by Turkish Cypriots, whilst Turkish immigrants who moved to Melbourne were greeted at Essendon Airport by members of the Cyprus Turkish Association. They came largely from rural areas of Turkey; at the time, approximately 30% were skilled and 70% were unskilled workers. However, this changed in the 1980s when the number of skilled Turks applying to enter Australia had increased considerably.Over the next 35 years the Turkish population rose to almost 200,000. More than half of the Turkish community settled in Victoria, mostly in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne.
Migration from other countries
There are also ethnic Turks who have immigrated to Australia from Bulgaria, the Western Thrace area of northern Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, as well as Germany and other Western European countries.
According to a statement made by Louise Asher in the Milliyet newspaper in 2013 there are 300,000 people of Turkish origin living in Melbourne alone. Official data in the 2006 Australian Census shows only 59,402 people in Australia who claimed to be of Turkish ancestry. However, the Australian census only collects information based on country of birth; thus, this only identifies the number of Turkish immigrants from Turkey, Cyprus (but excludes a substantial number of Turkish Cypriot immigrants who were born or were citizens of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as it not recognized by Austarlia), and Bulgaria. The census neglects to include the Australian-born Turks, Turkish Cypriots, and Bulgarian Turks, as well as other considerable Turkish communities who have immigrated (or are the descendants of) the Balkans, and the USSR. Recent estimates suggests that there are 150,000 Turkish Australians and between 40,000-120,000 Turkish Cypriot Australians.
Turkish Cypriot population
In 2001 the TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed to represent 40,000 Turkish Cypriots living in Australia.However, other sources have claimed higher figures: the “Kibris Gazetesi” claims that there are 60,000 Turkish Cypriots living in Australia whilst the “Star Kıbrıs” newspaper suggests that 120,000 Australians are of Turkish Cypriot origin.
Mainland Turkish population
Academic estimates have suggested that in 1999 there was over 75,000 Turkish Australian whilst a 2011 academic estimate placed the number at almost 100,000.The Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, as well as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, have stated that there are now 150,000 Australians of Turkish origin.
Other Turkish populations
There are smaller populations of Turkish ancestry who have immigrated to Australia from Bulgaria, the Western Thrace area of northern Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, as well as some who had migrated via Germany and other Western European countries.
Turkish Australians mainly live in New South Wales and Victoria, especially in the cities of Melbourne and Sydney. In Melbourne they reside largely in the suburbs of Broadmeadows, Meadow Heights, Collingwood, Brunswick, Coburg, Fitzroy, Richmond, Springvale and Dandenong. In Sydney, they are concentrated in Auburn, Guildford, Botany, Fairfield, Marrickville, Blacktown, Liverpool, Prestons and Ashfield.