The first set of data from the 2021 census has been released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This census took place in August 2021, during the height of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns. According to the census, more than a million new migrants have arrived in Australia since 2017; but about 80% of them arrived before the pandemic.
David Gruen, the Chief Statistician of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, told the media: “The census was conducted at an unprecedented time in Australia’s history and provides a unique snapshot of the population during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is different from previous censuses.”
Australia’s national population grew by about two million people to 25.4 million since the last census.
The data shows that just 44 per cent of Australians now identify as Christian, this is down from 52 per cent in 2016 and 61 per cent in 2011. When the first Australian census was conducted in 1911, 96 per cent listed Christianity as their religion.
The ABS data also reveals that around 684,000 people in Australia, or 2.7 per cent of the population, identify with Hinduism. This is an increase of 55 per cent over the past five years, reflecting an influx of migrants from countries such as India and Nepal.
The number of people who identify with Sikhism in Australia is 210,400 accounting for 0.8 per cent. Victoria has the highest number of Sikhs at 91,745.
Further, around 813,000 people in Australia identify with Islam. Its share of the national population has grown to 3.2 per cent, up from 2.6 per cent in the 2016 census.
Interestingly, Australians identifying as “non-religious” has increased. 39 per cent of Australians now identify as “non-religious,” which is up from 30 per cent in 2016. The figures reflect an increase of more than 25% since census data was last collected in 2016.
A growing number of Australians, 812,728 people, have identified as Indigenous – Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – which is equal to 3.2% of the population.
ABS reports that the proportion of people answering the census questions rose from 91 per cent in 2016 to 93 per cent in 2021. Data will continue to be released until mid-2023.