Indonesian Muslim fisherman from Makassar in Southern Sulawesi began making their annual visits to Australia in the early 1700s. This is ostensibly the first documented Australian Muslim connection in historical archives. Makassar influence upon the Indigenous peoples of Northern Australia is evidenced in their language, art and business dealings which carry legacies of this association.
In the 19th century, men from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan arrived in Australia to work in transportation, exploration, mining and the supply of provisions to homesteads. They were collectively known as ‘Afghans’ and were also considered expert camel handlers whose contribution was imperative in building a new nation.
During the 20th century, the need for migrant workers flourished as Australia’s economy developed. Consequently, Turkish, Albanian, Bosnian and Lebanese people migrated here to undertake a vast proportion of blue collar jobs, furthering the nation’s manufacturing industries. Their pursuit of a new home and future for their families formed the building blocks for Australia’s vibrant multicultural society, now representing over 70 cultural backgrounds and over 120 linguistic groups.
Today, Australian Muslims continue to contribute this country. Their prominence in domains of Business, Arts, Politics, Sports and Media continues to grow, despite representing less than 2 percent of Australia’s population.