Few S'poreans living in remote, rural areas

SYDNEY• Most Singaporeans moving to Australia have chosen to live in large cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth but a rare few have opted to move to rural and remote areas, according to the latest census data.

Figures from the 2016 census - which were released earlier this year - show that Singaporeans in Australia roughly follow the same city-centric patterns as migrants from China and other large source nations. The main difference is that a higher proportion of Singaporeans live in Western Australia.

According to the census, there were 54,934 Singapore-born people in Australia last year. These include those with Singapore citizenship and non-Singaporean nationals.

The five local areas with the largest numbers of Singapore-born people were Brisbane city centre, with 3,746; Melbourne city centre, at 1,963; Canning in Perth at 1,898; Monash in Melbourne, with 1,763; and Gosnells in Perth, with 1,699. These were followed by Melville in Perth with 1,562 Singapore-born people and Sydney city centre with 1,210.

The figures show that there are Singapore-born people in some of the country's more remote areas.

For example, there were four living in Ngaanyatjarraku, a vast isolated area in Western Australia that is one of the country's most remote regions and only has about 1,500 residents.

An employee at the local roadhouse - a popular hub in the area - told The Straits Times that he was not aware of any Singaporeans but noted that he tried to avoid asking people about their nationalities.

Indeed, the figures show that there are Singapore-born people scattered around the country. There were 35 in the Macedon Ranges in central Victoria, five in the picturesque Huon Valley in the island state of Tasmania, 15 in Litchfield on the outskirts of Darwin in the Northern Territory and 48 in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane in the state of Queensland.

A senior data analyst at the Regional Australia Institute, Mr Richard Beaton, said most of the Singaporeans living in remote areas were probably young engineers working in the mining industry.

"We are seeing a similar pattern with Singaporeans to what we are seeing with Chinese people and migrants in general," he told The Straits Times.

"They prefer metropolitan areas and big growth areas, though there are more Singaporeans on the west coast than you would usually see."

Jonathan Pearlman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2017, with the headline 'Few S'poreans living in remote, rural areas'. Print Edition | Subscribe