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Lebanese Australian refers to Lebanese people who are citizens or residents of Australia.

Lebanon has been a source of immigrants to Australia over several decades, with 181,751 Australians claiming a Lebanese ancestry either alone or in combination with one other ancestry. The 2006 census recorded 74,848 Lebanonmarker-born persons in Australia, with 72.8% of all people with Lebanese ancestry living in Sydneymarker (where they make up 2.3% of the population). The Western Sydney suburbs of Bankstownmarker, Lakembamarker and Punchbowlmarker are associated with the Lebanese population as well as the Northern Melbournemarker suburbs of Broadmeadowsmarker and Coburgmarker, Brunswickmarker, Fawknermarker and Altonamarker.

Community history

As part of a significant emigration from Lebanon in the 1870s Lebanese people migrated in great numbers to many countries. While most migrated to Brazil and other Latin American nations, particularly Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, and many also went to the US (in particular, New York) some emigrated to Australia, mainly to the eastern states and most to New South Walesmarker. The Lebanese population are thus one of the older established non-English speaking minorities in the country — although considerably smaller in number is of a similar vintage to the Greeks, Italians and Germans.

In the 1890s there were increasing numbers of Syrian/Lebanese immigrants to Australia, part of mass emigration from the Syria/Lebanon region.

Lebanese migrants were classified as Asians in the nineteenth century and they came within the scope of the White Australia policy which intentionally restricted non-white immigration to Australia. Lebanese migrants were excluded from citizenship, the right to vote and employment, and were treated as enemy aliens during World War I and World War II. In 1897 Lebanese store keepers and businesses were accused of fraud by state border Customs officers during Queensland customs prosecution cases.

Lebanese migrants to Australia were not habitually distinguished from Turks prior to 1918 because the area of modern Lebanon was a province of the Ottoman Empire until it passed to Frenchmarker colonial rule. Thereafter the Lebanesemarker were not distinguished from Syrians, as Lebanon and Syriamarker were two French colonies in proximity.
One dot denotes 100 Lebanon born Sydney residents
One dot denotes 100 Lebanon born Melbourne residents
From 1920 people from Lebanon (and Syria) were granted access to Australian citizenship as the Nationality Act 1920 removed the racial disqualification from the naturalisation laws.

By 1947, there were 1,886 Lebanese-born in Australia, almost all Christian. The Lebanese born population numbered 24,218 in 1971 and had doubled to 49,617 in 1981. Following the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, more than 20,000 civil war refugees arrived in Australia. These migrants were often poor and over half of them were Muslim. The influx of migrants changed the character of the Lebanese community in Australia significantly, especially in Sydney where 75 percent of the Lebanese born population were concentrated.

For the remainder of the 1970s and 1980s, unrest in Lebanon caused a large increase in the number of Lebanese migrating to Australia.

In 1991 there were 68,787 people who were first generation immigrants born in Lebanon and 67,453 second generation people associated with Lebanon as a birthplace.

All main Lebanese groups - Maronites, Melkites, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Druze, Shi'a, Sunnis and Kurds (amongst others) — are now represented.

The Lebanese in Melbournemarker have opened restaurants and groceries and middle eastern shops and Lebanese bars on Sydney Road which is sometimes called Little Lebanon.

Following the trials for a series of gang rape attacks in Sydney in 2000 by a group of Lebanese, the Lebanese Muslim Australian community came under significant scrutiny by the media in addition to a more general anti-Muslim backlash after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Community concern and divisiveness continued in the wake of the 2005 Cronulla riotsmarker in Sydney.

Return Migration

Lebanese Australians have a moderate rate of return migration to Lebanon. In December 2001, the Department of Foreign Affairs estimated that there were 25,000 Australian citizens resident in Lebanon.

During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Australian Government organised mass evacuations of Australians resident in Lebanon.


While 55% of Lebanese in their homeland are Muslim, the majority of diasporic Lebanese are Christian. In Australia, 65% are Christian and 35% are Muslim, of those born in Lebanon.

Notable Lebanese Australians

Name Born – Died Notable for Connection with Australia Connection with Lebanon
Anthony Alexander Alam 1896–1983 member of the New South Wales Legislative Council born Australia parents born Lebanon
Ron Bakir 1977 Mobile phone retailer emigrated to Australia born in Lebanon
Max Basheer 1927 Former administrator with the South Australian National Football League born Australia parents born Lebanon
Marie Bashir 1930 Governor of New South Wales born Australia parents born in Lebanon
Steve Bracks 1954 Former Premier of Victoriamarker born Australia paternal grandfather born in Lebanon
Firass Dirani 1984 actor born Australia of Lebanese origin
Sam Doumany Former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in Queensland
Hazem El Masri 1976 Canterbury Bulldogs Rugby league player migrated to Australia as child born Lebanon
Nazih Elasmar 1954 member of the Victorian Legislative Council migrated to Australia born Lebanon
Benny Elias 1963 Former National Rugby League player migrated to Australia as a child born Lebanon
Ahmad Elrich 1981 International Football (soccer) player born Australia Lebanese descent
Tarek Elrich 1987 Newcastle United Jets Football (soccer) player born Australia Lebanese descent
Robbie Farah 1984 Wests Tigers Rugby league player born Australia father emigrated from Lebanon c. 1960
Joe Hachem 1966 2005 World Series of Poker champion migrated to Australia as child born Lebanon
Milham Hanna former Australian rules footballer with Carlton grew up in Australia born Lebanon
Joe Hasham 1948 actor emigrated to Australia as infant born in Lebanon
Bachar Houli 1988 Essendon Bombers Australian Rules Football player born Australia parents born Lebanon
Sabrina Houssami 1986 2006 Australian representative at Miss World born Australia Lebanese father
Tamara Jaber 1982 member of pop band Scandal'us born Australia Lebanese father
Bob Katter, Sr. 1918–1990 member for Federal Division of Kennedy 1966-1990 born Australia Lebanese descent
Bilal Khazal Al-Qaeda associate, jihadist, Qantas baggage handler working Australia born Lebanon
Tim Mannah 1988 Parramatta Eels Rugby League player born Australia Lebanese descent
David Malouf 1934 writer born Australia father Lebanese
Daryl Melham 1954 member of the Australian House of Representatives born in Australia father migrated from Lebanon
Cesar Melhem 1965 Victorian state secretary of Australian Workers' Union migrated to Australia born in Lebanon
Feiz Mohammad Fundamentalist cleric born in Australia
Tony Mokbel 1965 convicted drug trafficker and prison fugitive emigrated to Australia Born in Kuwait father originally from Lebanon
Fehmi Naji 1928 Grand Mufti of Australia born in Lebanon
Paul Nakad 1975 actor and hip hop artist born Australia Lebanese descent
Jacques Nasser 1947 Former CEO of Ford Motors raised in Australia born Lebanon
Eddie Obeid 1943 NSW Member of the Legislative Council, former NSW Minister for Fisheries and Mineral Resources amd key power broker in the NSW Right of the ALP working in Australia born Matrit (also spelt Metrit) Bsharri District
Barbara Perry NSW parliamentarian born Australia parents born Lebanon
Roger Rasheed 1969 international tennis coach and former player born Australia father migrated from Lebanon
Nicholas Shehadie 1926 Lord Mayor of Sydney (1973-1975) born Australia of Lebanese descent
Bilal Skaf 1981 led a series of gang rape attacks in Sydney in 2000 born Australia parents born Lebanon and emigrated to Australia
John Symond Founder and Managing Director of Aussie Group born Australia parents born Lebanon
Keysar Trad Muslim community spokesman migrated to Australia born in Lebanon
Doris Younane 1963 Actress born in Australia Parents born Lebanon

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