Harris Park – the ”˜Little India’ of Australia

From L to R: Dr Geoff Lee, MP Parramatta and Raj Mahesh, owner of Go-Cool Fruit and Vegetable Market and Victor Dominello, Minister for Citizenship and Communities in Harris Park


By Neena Badhwar

People from India make the fastest growing community in Australia registering a whopping 100 per cent increase. Since the 2006 Census, Punjabi as a language now shows a 207 per cent increase, according to the latest Census figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to the ethnic media on June 26 at the Le Montage Function Centre in Leichhardt.

Census 2011 results were declared by Dr Jill Charker, the First Assistant Statistician, ABS. She said on the occasion, “The ABS worked hard turning about 6.1 millions forms and about 2.8 million eCensus submissions into the data that would fundamentally shape our nation for the next five years supporting planning, decision making and funding at all levels of government planning.

“2011 Census revealed that more and more people from Asia and other parts of the world are calling Australia their home with Indian-born as the fastest growing community showing more than 100 per cent increase. Hinduism as religion showed the fastest growth too. Chinese and Indians have made to the top ten of the ancestries of people settling here,” she said.

Nihal Gupta, Chair NSW Multicultural Business Advisory Panel, said, “The Census data is not only useful but important and integral to allow us to track and monitor the growth of the culturally diverse population. Since 1945, Australia has accepted 7 million migrants and these migrants have transformed our country into the rich and diverse and very successful multicultural nation that it is today.

“The culturally diverse population between 1996 and 2009 of people born overseas increased from 4.3 million to 5.5 million people which means that most of the migrants of those 7 million people have come in the last decade. Between 2001 and 2006 the China-born population increased by 45 % and since 2006 it has grown further by 37 %.

“2011 Census for NSW shows that Indian-born community has grown a massive 67 per cent and that largest non-English speaking people are from either China or India. Two percent of all NSW residents were born in India and 3.4 per cent born in China. Hence China and India are very important for policy settings of NSW. They provide the fastest growth of visitors who provide six billion worth of revenue. China and India are also very large investment partners. The Census data help us plan strategically to work with these communities, to track trends and to modify services,” said Mr Gupta.

Dr Geoff Lee, MP from Parramatta, said that Parramatta was the perfect example of multiculturalism and the current Census proves it. “I look forward to the continuing development of this area as Sydney’s own Indian Quarter and welcome the continued diversity that all of Parramatta’s multi-cultural communities bring to the area”


The Indian community has grown from 147,000 to 295,000 in the last five years. There are 111, 351 speakers of Hindi language in Australia according to the Census 2011.

While Indians were much younger in age (25-29 years) than the Australians, who, as a whole, were older with an average age at 37 years.

Most of the Hindi speakers had parents born overseas (96.8%) and most of them were (73.5% – 81, 892) Hindus with 9.5% (10, 543) Muslims, 3.8% (4,213) Sikhs and 2.7% (3,060) Western Catholics. While Buddhists on national level were 528, 979, about 2.5 % of total population, yet only 341 said that they are Buddhists from India ”“ a country from where Buddhism originated.

Most Hindi speaking households (16.3%) earned  $1,500 – $1,999 weekly income where as on national level that numbers drops to 12.6%. Majority of Hindi speaking people were in the top bracket as income earners with almost 34 % earning more than $2000 weekly.

Hindi speakers also took education seriously with 85.1 % (76,667) finishing year 12.

While Australian average of registered marriage stood at 49.2 %, Hindi speakers were way above averaging at 66.8%, around 60,419 people. Two percent had de facto relationships (1,785).

Around 22 people from Hindi speaking community identified as Aborigines and 13 as Torres Strait Islanders, perhaps due to marriage.

Few Hindi speakers identified themselves as Same Sex couples at 0.1% (75). Australia on the whole had 65,023 persons identifying themselves as Same Sex couples.

While most of the Hindi speaking families had 1 child (45.9% – 10,646 families) or 2 children ( 45.4% – 10, 529 families), there were 12 families with six or more children.

10.9 % households owned their home outright as compared to 32.1 Australian average whereas 16,472 owned their home with a mortgage and 12,937 living on rented properties.

Other interesting features about Indian community in Census 2011 Results are:

  • Hinduism was the fastest growing religion in Australia.
  • Indian migrant arriving from India were the largest in number 13.1% of total migrants arriving between 2006 and 2011.
  • While Hindi language is at ninth spot nationally with 111,351 speakers, people speaking Punjabi language at home were was not far behind at spot Number 13 and had grown by 207 % from the last Census of 2006 with numbers at 71,230.
  • While Hindus in NSW overall made up 1.7% (119,802) of the population, City of Blacktown had 8.3% of Hindus and 4.2% of Sikhs. 4.5 % spoke Hindi, 4.4 spoke Punjabi, 1.2 % spoke Gujarati, 1.2 % spoke Bengali, 1.1 5 spoke Tamil, 0.8 % Urdu, 0.3 % Telugu,0 .2% Malayalam, 0.2% Marathi and 0.1 % Kananda there.
  • Census 2011 established the changing demographic scene of Harris Park. It’s no wonder that Harris Park has been given the title of ”˜Little India’ as Indian language speakers dominated the area. Gujarati was the most common language spoken amongst people from Harris Park at 20.4% with English lagging behind at 18.7 %. Hindi at 8.3%, Punjabi at 6.5 %, Telugu 2.8%, Tamil at 1.1% and Nepali and Urdu both at 0.9 %, Marathi at 0.6%, Malayalam at 0.3%, Kannada at 0.2%. Altogether, Indian languages speakers make around 43% of total Harris Park population and popular greeting sign there should be ”˜Kem Chho’ and not ”˜Namaste’.
  • Hornsby area is made up of 5.1 % of Indians who take third position behind Australians and Chinese.
  • Liverpool has 5.9% Indians with 3.2% from Fiji.   7.5% of Liverpool people were Hindus,  4.5 % spoke Hindi, 1.2% Marathi, 1.1 Tamil, 1.1% Urdu, 0.9% Kannada, 0.7 % Punjabi, 0.5 % Malayali, 0.4 % Bengali, 0.4% Telugu and 0.3% Gujarati.
  • Strathfield ”“ a favourite of well-off Indians, had only 2.6 % Hindi speakers compared to Tamil at 3.4 % and Nepalis at 3.8%. Telugu speakers were 1.7%, Gujarati 1.1%, Urdu 0.6%, Bengali 0.5% and Punjabi also at 0.5%.
  • Always curious to find out about Glenwood where we have our favorite Parklea Gurdwara and a buzzing Punjabi community, Indians make up 9.5 % of total population and were the second most in number. English, in Glenwood, was still the dominant language at 54.7 % – with Punjabi at second place at 6.7%, Hindi third at 5.4%, Tamil at 1.4%, Urdu at 1.1%, Gujarati at 0.7%, Bengali at 0.6%, Telugu at 0.4%. There were 8.7 % Hindus in the area and 6.7% Sikhs.
  • Parramatta is also considered the heart of Indian community with 20.1% people identifying themselves as Hindus, 2.6% as Sikhs.   Parramatta has English speakers at 26.5% with Gujarati speakers at place four at 6.6%, Hindi at 5.8%, and Punjabi at 2.7%, Telugu at 2.3%, Tamil at 2.2%, Bengali at 1.3%, Marathi at 0.6%, Malayali at 0.5% and Kannada at 0.3% and Konkani at 0.2%.
  • Another area which always was considered to be the Little India with a belt of Indian restaurants on Cleveland Street is Surry Hills. Yet, it has very little to do with Indians and Indian languages except the Indian food there. Surry Hills showed   Hindi speakers at 0.3% (placed at number 19) behind even Bengali 0.5% and Nepali speakers 0.6% while Tamil at 0.2% and Punjabi and Urdu merely at 0.1% both made up the rest.
  • Dandenong in Victoria is considered to be the heartland of Indians with shops named as ”˜Little India’. Although bigger in population it still lags behind Harris Park where 39 % are Indians. No wonder NSW government wants to promote Harris Park as ”˜Little India’ to tourists.

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