Census 2016 consolidates the business case for D&I programs

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Topics Inclusion

The release last week of some 2016 Census data spotlighted the growing diversity of Australia. 


Over 100,000 more Australians are identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples compared to 2011. This segment of the population has nearly doubled since 1996 and grew by 18% in the previous five years to 649,171.  Around two thirds of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples live in NSW and QLD and one in three reside in capital cities.  Most of the growth in younger age groups is driven by migration from Asia.

Culture and language 

For thousands of years this land has been rich with the culture of hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribal and language groups and nations.

Since European settlement migrants have been arriving on these shores and today more than one quarter of the population come from around 200 other countries. Add those with at least one-parent born overseas and the figure rises to 49%.

Europe has been a key source of migrants for most of our recent history.  However this is rapidly changing.  In 2001 52% of migrants were still coming from Europe, while 24% came from Asia.  Fifteen years later only 34% come from Europe while 40% were born in Asia.

Over 20% of the population are second generation Australians who reported identifying with more than 300 different ancestries.

Furthermore over one-fifth of Australians speak a language other than English at home and this could be one of 300 different languages.


Religious beliefs or affiliation are closely linked to cultural identity and the latest data on this reinforces the increasingly diverse nature of the population. Religion was the only optional question in the Census, yet more than 90% of people completed this section.  Almost a third of people claimed no religion, an additional 2.2 million people since 2016.  The proportion of people reporting a religion other than Christianity increased from 5.6% in 2006 to 8.2% in 2016. Although the increase was spread across most of the non-Christian religions, Hinduism saw the largest jump (but still only at 1.9% of the population), which is attributed to the increase in Indian migrants.


Australia‚Äôs population is ageing. Although the median age of Australians only rose from 37 to 38 in the last five years, the proportion of population aged over 50 continues to rise, now making up one third of the country's population.  Of the 7.9 million people in this age bracket, around 4.3 million, or 18% of the overall population, are still of official working age.   There are now over 3.6 million Australians aged 65+, representing 16% of the population (up from 14% in 2011).


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