Muslims in Australia have a long and varied history. Some of Australia’s earliest visitors were Muslim, from the east Indonesian archipelago. They made contact with mainland Australia as early as the 16th and 17th centuries.
While most of their contributions were never truly acknowledged contemporaneously and Australia for the most part of even the 20th century continued to operate its White Australia Policy, the Australia of today has become far more sensitive to people of different ethnicities and religions. As a result, for the most part, Muslims enjoy the freedom to practice their religion, tolerance, and equality – exactly the rights which Islam espouses in any society.
Presently, Australia’s Muslim communities are predominantly concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne, with the majority of the population being working class. According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the number of Muslims in Australia recorded in the 2006 Census exceeded 340 000, of whom 128 904 were born in Australia and the rest, overseas.
Since the 1970s, Muslim communities have developed many mosques and Islamic schools and made vibrant contributions to the multicultural fabric of Australian society.