The first Czech to visit Australia was Bohemia-born Tadeáš Haenke, a botanist, physician, chemist and geographer who sailed with the Spanish navy on the way to South America on a spying and scientific mission. The mission landed in Sydney in 1793 and stayed for one month. A few Czechs found their way to Australia during the 19th century and some worked in the goldfields.
In the 1930s, economic crisis and Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Morovia resulted in several hundred Czechs, including Czech Jews, arriving in Australia. The first wave of migration from Czechoslovakia occurred after 1948 when Czechoslovakia was made a satellite state of the Soviet Union, leading to the departure of large numbers of political refugees. By 1954, there were 12,680 Czechoslovakia-born, most of whom were of Czech ancestry.
The second wave occurred after 1968 following the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, with 6,000 immigrating to Australia. Since the democratisation of Czechoslovakia in 1989 and its dissolution into separate Czech and Slovak republics in 1993, there has been little migration of Czechs to Australia.
The latest Census in 2011 recorded 7,437 Czech Republic-born people in Australia, an increase of 3.6 per cent from the 2006 Census. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed New South Wales had the largest number with 3,033 followed by Victoria (1,663), Queensland (1,270) and Western Australia (649).
Age and Sex
The median age of the Czech Republic-born in 2011 was 53 years compared with 45 years for all overseas-born and 37 years for the total Australian population. The age distribution showed 2 per cent were aged 0-14 years, 3 per cent were 15-24 years, 35.1 per cent were 25-44 years, 29.5 per cent were 45-64 years and 30.5 per cent were 65 years and over. Of the Czech Republic-born in Australia, there were 3,493 males (47 per cent) and 3,945 females (53 per cent). The sex ratio was 88.5 males per 100 females.
In the 2011 Census, the top ancestry responses* that Czech Republic-born people reported were Czech (6,437), German (424) and other European (145). In the 2011 Census, Australians reported around 300 different ancestries. Of the total ancestry responses*, 22,772 responses were towards Czech ancestry.
*At the 2011 Census up to two responses per person were allowed for the Ancestry question; therefore providing the total responses and not persons count.
The main languages spoken at home by Czech Republic-born people in Australia were Czech (4,224), English (2,663) and German (215).
Of the 4,778 Czech Republic-born who spoke a language other than English at home, 92.7 per cent spoke English very well or well, and 5.4 per cent spoke English not well or not at all.
At the 2011 Census the major religious affiliations amongst Czech Republic-born were Catholic (3,253) and Anglican (145). Of the Czech Republic-born, 37.9 per cent stated 'No Religion' which was higher than that of the total Australian population (22.3 per cent), and 5.4 per cent did not state a religion.
Compared to 62 per cent of the total overseas-born population, 75.1 per cent of the Czech Republic-born people in Australia arrived in Australia prior to 2001. Among the total Czech Republic-born in Australia at the 2011 Census, 10.8 per cent arrived between 2001 and 2006 and 10.4 per cent arrived between 2007 and 2011.
At the time of the 2011 Census, the median individual weekly income for the Czech Republic-born in Australia aged 15 years and over was $517, compared with $538 for all overseas-born and $597 for all Australia-born. The total Australian population had a median individual weekly income of $577.
At the 2011 Census, 75.7 per cent of the Czech Republic-born aged 15 years and over had some form of higher non-school qualifications compared to 55.9 per cent of the Australian population. Of the Czech Republic-born aged 15 years and over, 2.9 per cent were still attending an educational institution. The corresponding rate for the total Australian population was 8.6 per cent.
Among Czech Republic-born people aged 15 years and over, the participation rate in the labour force was 56.9 per cent and the unemployment rate was 5.2 per cent. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 65 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively.
Of the 3,839 Czech Republic-born who were employed, 53.2 per cent were employed in either a skilled managerial, professional or trade occupation. The corresponding rate in the total Australian population was 48.4 per cent.