3.1 Number of Maltese in Australia

To be a Maltese in Australia usually means being born in Malta and having settled in Australia, irrespective of citizenship. However, this definition is very restrictive and excludes a number of persons who consider themselves Maltese, or who speak the Maltese language even though they were not born in Malta.

What do we mean by "Maltese origin"? There are a number of definitions possible:

  1. Born in Malta and having Maltese citizenship
  2. Born in Malta but Australian (or other) citizen
  3. One who can speak Maltese, irrespective of where born.
  4. Having one or both parents born in Malta, and possibly,
  5. Having a Maltese ethnic background (see Ethnic strength).

Depending on which definition one takes, there is a different answer to the often asked question: "How many Maltese are I there in Australia?"

According to the latest (1986) census, the number of Maltese-born in Australia is 56,232. This number excludes all second and later generation Maltese (born in Australia) as well as a large and unknown number of migrants of Maltese origin who were born in Egypt, Tripoli and elsewhere, and who consider themselves Maltese. Compared to the 1981 census, when the population was 58,747, there is a reduction of 1.4%

In 1986, there were 3.247 million persons born overseas, the total Australian population being 15.602 million; i.e. 20.8% were born overseas. The proportion of Maltese-born as a percentage of total overseas -born has increased from 0.4% in 1947 to a peak of 2.2% in 1961. In 1986 it is 1.710/o. The number of males and females was roughly equal (M:F ratio = 1.14).

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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