ABS Census: What it says about Australia

Kristopher Drake
June 30, 2017

"Once again, thanks to the participation of millions of Australians in last year's Census, the ABS has today unveiled a comprehensive range of Census data that provides valuable insights into the makeup of our population and will be used to inform critical decisions that guide the future of our nation over the coming years", he said according to a press release. Now we can start to dig into the data that defines a nation. "We've known that forever and it just has become more patently obvious in this census", said Gary Bouma, a professor emeritus of sociology at Australia's Monash University.

The idea of the "typical" Australian has also fundamentally shifted. It turns out Australia is more gay, more multicultural and less religious than ever.

For more information on religion in the Census, go to the Religion Data Summary.

When it came to parents' place of birth, 76.8 per cent of Dubbo residents said both of their parents were born in Australia with just 9.2 per cent indicating both were born overseas.

People born in India but living in Australia has also increased from 5.6 per cent to 7.4 - becoming the fifth most common migrant country - per cent during the same time frame.

According to the data, two thirds of Australians now live in our capital cities with Sydney and Melbourne being the largest cities.

What's more interesting than the overall trend, is the greater decline in outright home ownership, involving no mortgage debt, from 31.0% to 29.6% between 2011 and 2016.

ABC reimagined the census data as 100 people and their fantastic infograph highlights an inconvenient, although far from shocking, truth.


A cluster of suburbs in Sydney's south-west recorded rates of religion above 83 per cent, but they recorded a mix of religions.

Roughly 2.2 million more people identified with "no religion" in 2016 than in a previous census in 2011.

Australia now has a higher proportion of overseas-born citizens (26.3 per cent) as compared to countries such as New Zealand (23.3 per cent) and United Kingdom (13 per cent).

Of the one million such couples with children aged under 15 (with no dependent students), women out-earn men in a slightly smaller proportion at 15.6 per cent - still up from 11.7 per cent a decade ago.

More people have reported as having Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, and account for about 2.8 per cent of the population.

An independent assurance panel has declared itself satisfied with the quality of the census despite passive resistance and an upsurge in the use of false or unlikely names amid concerns about privacy.

"No religion" is the Census option for people who don't practice a religion and have no inclination to do so. The number of people who were born overseas jumped by nearly one million people in five years.

National peak volunteer body, Volunteering Australia said that while the census data was encouraging, it warned that it may not necessarily be indicative of the narrative of Australian volunteering activity as the volunteer question had remained unchanged for the past three censuses. It is created to allow users to produce data specific to their needs.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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