The 2011 Census

Map of non-belief in AustraliaWith the first round of 2011 census results recently released in June 2012, the first subject of discussion is the state of religion in Australia. Australian Census Stats have now released statistics of belief and non-belief in all areas of Australia. In this article, we explore belief generally along the so-called proliferation of non-belief in the Goulburn Valley, where the Shepparton Interfaith Network is active.


Religion in the Goulburn Valley

Belief in Australia in the past has been largely a private matter, and more recently, due the lack of visible attendance as Sunday Services in the mainline Christian Churches, it is lamented often and frequently that religious practice is declining in Australia.

Earlier, we reported that in the Community Profile released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on 21 June 2012, in Shepparton there were 60,448 persons counted by the census; of these, 54,805 persons replied to the religion question, (including those who indicated no religion. Over 90% of residents in Greater Shepparton answered the religion question, indicating their religion, or lack thereof. It was also noted that for Uniting Church in Australia, the Goulburn Valley reported the highest number of practising Christians in rural Australia, more so any other rural region of Australia.

Census Blogger Clarification:

*Please note: for convenience, I use the word atheist interchangeably with 'non-religious'. However the census response covers alternative views, such as agnosticism. (This comment found here.)

Interfaith Network Comment:

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is principally a statistical agency and not a religious reporting agency, although questions of religion are urgently addressed by the mainstream media in their iterations and reporting of the statistics. Professor Gary Bouma is the UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations - Asia Pacific, and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Monash University was repeatedly interviewed by the media when the statistics were first released by the ABS. Another noted observer and commentator on religion in Australia, Professor Desmond Cahill of RMIT University, was also consulted. Professor Cahill frequently raised the issue that "none" or "no religion" in self reporting in the national census failed to account for those who perceived themselves as spiritual, and following a personal spirituality, of whatever persuasion. The pithy comments by the Census Bureau reflect this lack of comprehension that many in Australia follow their own personal spiritual path, and are loathe to associate themselves with organised religion. The recent media coverage of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse doubtless highlights this loathing of institutional and organised religious bodies.

The charts below are principally reporting non-practice of religion in Australia from the point of view of the ABS Census, which is, as we have commented above, not a religious reporting agency. It simply observes and provides the facts which illustrate the figure obtained by the 2011 Census that 22% of the population of Australia self-reported in the 2011 Census that they followed no religion; and that this figure was an increase on the 15% who self-reported that they followed no religion in the 2001 Census. We note that the religion question in the Census was purely optional, and did not appear to provide any facility to itemise more deeply personal religious practices of those completing the 2011 census.

Religious Practice in Shepparton North



Religious Practice in Shepparton North

Religious Practice in Shepparton North

Religious Practice in Shepparton East



Religious Practice in Shepparton East

Religious Practice in Shepparton East

Religious Practice in Mooroopna



Religious Practice in Mooroopna

Religious Practice in Mooroopna

Religious Practice in Shepparton West



Religious Practice in Shepparton West

Religious Practice in Shepparton West

Religious Practice in Shepparton South



Religious Practice in Shepparton South

Religious Practice in Shepparton South

Religious Practice in Kyabram



Religious Practice in Kyabram

Religious Practice in Kyabram

Religious Practice in Numurkah



Religious Practice in Numurkah

Religious Practice in Numurkah

Some authorities indicate in maps that the Goulburn Valley extends to include Seymour and follows the Hume Highway to Violet Town, and then trends inwards. In order that there be an appropriate landscape for our observations, we include the ABS Census statistical divisions of Rushworth, Euroa and Seymour.

Religious Practice in Rushworth



Religious Practice in Rushworth

Religious Practice in Rushworth

Religious Practice in Euroa



Religious Practice in Euroa

Religious Practice in Euroa

Religious Practice in Seymour



Religious Practice in Seymour

Religious Practice in Seymour

1,200 total views, 1 views today

1190 Total Views 1 Views Today