News Item in News.com.au June 27, 2017
DESPITE a scare campaign about Australia becoming a “Muslim country”, those ticking “no religion” in the Census, has now overtaken the number of Catholics. It’s the first time in Australia’s history the number of people who claim “no religion” has overtaken Catholics. The latest Census showed those ticking “no religion” rose from 22.6 per cent to 29.6 per cent — nearly double the 16 per cent in 2001. Meanwhile, those identifying as Catholic dropped from 25.3 per cent to 22.6 per cent.
The number of Christians in total still made up 52 per cent of the population, but this is much less than the 88 per cent in 1966 and 74 per cent in 1991.
Islam (2.6 per cent) and Buddhism (2.4 per cent) were the next most common religions reported. Islam grew from 2.2 per cent in 2011, while Buddhism dropped from 2.5 per cent. The religion question was controversial this year, with Australians warned not to mark “no religion” on the Census survey by those afraid the nation would become a “Muslim country”. An email was circulated that asked Australians to avoid the “no religion” option as this would give prominence to Muslims.
Those reporting no religion increased noticeably from 19 per cent in 2006 to 30 per cent in 2016. The largest change was between 2011 (22 per cent) and 2016, when an additional 2.2 million people reported having no religion. But it was Hinduism that had the most significant growth between 2006 and 2016, driven by immigration from South Asia.
Those who did not answer the religion question, which is the only non-compulsory question in the Census, was 9.6 per cent, up slightly from 9.2 per cent in 2011.
The result shows that Australia remains a predominantly religious country, with 60 per cent of people reporting a religious affiliation. How likely a person was to identify as religious in 2016 had a lot to do with their age.
Young adults aged 18-34 were more likely to be affiliated with religions other than Christianity (12 per cent) and to report not having a religion (39 per cent) than other adult age groups. Older age groups, particularly those aged 65 years and over, were more likely to report Christianity.
MAJOR FINDINGS OF THE 2016 CENSUS
- Australia’s estimated population at December 31 was 24.4 million people.
- There were 23,717,421 people in Australia on Census night, which included 23,401,892 people who usually live in Australia — an 8.8 per cent increase from 2011. More than 600,000 Australians were travelling overseas.
- NSW remains our most populous state, with 7,480,228 people counted, ahead of Victoria (5,926,624) and Queensland (4,703,193).
- The Australian Capital Territory experienced the largest population growth of any state or territory over the past five years, adding more than 40,000 new residents – an increase of 11 per cent.
- Greater Sydney is Australia’s largest population centre with 4,823,991 people, growing at 1656 every week since the previous Census.
- 1.3 million new migrants have come to Australia since 2011, hailing from some of the 180 countries of birth recorded in the Census, with China (191,000) and India (163,000) being the most common countries of birth of new arrivals.
- Of all Australian residents, just more than a quarter of people (26 per cent) said they were born overseas, with England remaining the most common country of birth other than Australia. For the first time in our history, the majority of people born overseas are now from Asia, not Europe.
- We remain a predominantly an English speaking country, with 72.7 per cent of people reporting they speak only English at home. Tasmania had the highest rate of people speaking only English at home with 88 per cent, while the Northern Territory had the lowest rate at 58 per cent.
- Australians are getting older with 664,473 additional people aged 65 and over since 2011.