Introduction / History Sri Lankans in Australia are one of the largest groups of Sri Lankans away from their own country and the largest in Oceania. Sri Lankans include the Sinhalese peoples group.
The first Sinhalese people from Sri Lanka came in 1870 to work in Queensland on the sugar cane plantations. The first Sinhalese migration to Australia was in 1960. After the middle of the 1970s, large numbers arrived including Christians and Buddhists. During the 1970s immigration restrictions were eased and after 1973 and from the early 1980s, Sinhalese and other Sri Lankan migration began again and increased.
In the 1980s there were problems between the Sri Lankans in Australia related to the troubles at the time in Sri Lanka itself and the Sinhalese and Tamils had disputes among themselves. It is said that recently a Sri Lankan identity has come about amongst the migrants. Community organizations have been formed regards Sri Lankan tradition and culture. Strong friendships have been formed between Sinhalese Buddhists in Australia and those in Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia and similarly regarding those who are Christian immigrants.
The Sinhalese speak Sinhali and English. SBS radio broadcasts in Sinhalese. Most Sinhalese in Australia are Theravada Buddhists and a small number of them are Christians (a chance for the Christian Sinhalese to give the gospel message here). There are Theravada Buddhist temples in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. Theravada Buddhism is nearer to early Buddhism than other forms of Buddhism are.
Sinhalese like to travel and some of them were poor in Sri Lanka.