Despite no ‘Leadership Position’ Indian Diaspora in Victoria Makes Positive Impact, New Report Highlights

Almost 60% of Victorians acknowledge the valuable contributions of Indian international university students to the state's economy and society.

A study conducted by the Australia India Institute, in collaboration with Roy Morgan’s Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) and The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research, reveals a widespread appreciation for the contributions of the Indian community among Victorians.

  • Highlight: 
  • The Indian diaspora is Australia’s fastest-growing diaspora – within the last decade.
  • About 40 per cent of the Indian diaspora in Australia call Victoria home.
  • What’s next? 
  • With the introduction of direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Delhi and Mumbai and the improvement of air connectivity, the Indian diaspora travel has nearly doubled.

This first-of-its-kind report called Victorian’s Perceptions on India and the Indian
Diaspora: A State-Wide Survey,
based on responses from over 2,500 participants across the state, shines a light on the Indian diaspora’s significant influence on the local economy, society, and culture.

The findings indicate that more than half of the respondents, encompassing all age and gender demographics, have regular interactions with the Indian community and recognise their positive role in various sectors. Notably, almost 60% of Victorians acknowledge the valuable contributions of Indian international university students to the state’s economy and society, and a similar proportion expressed eagerness to learn more about Indian culture and participate in Indian public and cultural events.

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Lisa Singh, Chief Executive of the Australia India Institute, emphasised the dynamic and enterprising nature of the Indian diaspora within the Victorian fabric, highlighting their role as gateways to social and economic collaboration opportunities in Victoria.

Lisa Singh, Chief Executive of the Australia India Institute; Image Source: Supplied

“Their roles in being gateways to greater opportunities for social and economic collaboration in Victoria are held in high regard.”

However, she also stressed the need for policies that foster inclusivity and provide equal opportunities for individuals of Indian descent to ascend to higher leadership roles.

India, having overtaken China and the UK, has become Australia’s largest source of migrants in the past decade. The report underscores the Indian diaspora’s role as Australia’s fastest-growing, with about 40% residing in Victoria. These individuals, primarily skilled migrants with high educational qualifications, play a crucial role in vital economic sectors, promoting Victoria’s trade expansion.

The “glass ceilings” and barriers

Despite Indian Australian communities’ significant contributions, the report highlights a noticeable disparity in the representation of people of Indian descent in leadership positions within boardrooms, political spheres, universities, large corporations, and peak industry bodies. Over 80% of survey respondents pointed out the lack of visibility of Indian Australians in authoritative roles, suggesting the presence of “glass ceilings” and other barriers to leadership opportunities.

The Victorian Government’s positive engagement with India has been reflected through initiatives aimed at promoting travel and tourism for Indian visitors, attracting international students, and supporting skilled migration. During national crises such as the 2019 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian community has demonstrated commendable leadership by organising food distribution missions, volunteering services, providing medical aid, and initiating vaccination drives.

The report serves as a timely resource for understanding the vital contributions of the Indian Australian community in Victoria and underscores the importance of policy discussions aimed at creating a more inclusive society.

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With the introduction of direct flights from Mumbai to Melbourne and improved air connectivity, travel between India and Victoria has nearly doubled, despite high travel costs, further strengthening the ties between the two regions.

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