Profile of Catholics in Australia

June 19, 2008 2:58 pm

AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE Pastoral Projects Office Australian Catholic University T: (03) 9953 3456 office@ppo.catholic.org.au Locked Bag 4115 FITZROY VIC 3065 F: (03) 9415 1196 www.ppo.catholic.org.au June 5, 2008 Profile of Catholics in Australia The latest snapshot of church life in Australia shows that Mass attenders are on average older, better educated and more likely to be female, married and born overseas than Catholics in general. This is the picture from the 2006 National Church Life Survey (NCLS), based on a random sample of around 70,000 Mass attenders from 229 Catholic parishes from every Australian diocese. The survey found that 61 per cent of Mass attenders aged 15 and over (the age group covered by NCLS) were female, compared to 53 per cent of the same age group among Catholics as a whole. Among Mass attenders aged 15 and over, 28 per cent had a degree or higher qualification, while 68 per cent were married, 10 per cent were widowed, five per cent were separated or divorced and one per cent were in a de facto relationship. Mass attenders were also more likely than Catholics in general to be born overseas: among those aged 20 or more, 36 per cent of Mass attenders were born overseas compared to 29 per cent of the Catholic population. The percentage of Catholics attending Mass every week dropped slightly from 2001 to 2006.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Projects Office conducted a national count in May 2006, which showed that the total number of people at Mass on a typical weekend was 708,600, or about 14 per cent of the Census Catholic population. This was down from a little over 15 per cent, or 764,000, in 2001. Meanwhile, the 2006 Australian Census showed that Catholics remain the largest religious group in the country. There were 5,126,884 Catholics in Australia, making up 25.8 per cent of the total population of 19,855,288. The next two largest groups in terms of religious affiliation were Anglicans and those who said they had no religion, with both accounting for 18.7 per cent of the population. The Catholic population grew by 125,260 between the 2001 and 2006 Censuses, but declined slightly as a proportion of the total population from the 2001 figure of 26.6 per cent. The median age of Australian Catholics in 2006 was 36.1 years, slightly younger than that of other Australians (36.7 years). Five years earlier, the median age of the two groups had been 34.2 years and 35.5 years respectively, so the gap in median age between Catholics and the rest of the population is narrowing. More than one-fifth of Australian Catholics (22.7%) were born overseas, including 17.6 per cent who were born in non-English-speaking countries. Fifteen per cent of Catholics aged 15 and over had a university degree or higher qualification, a considerable increase over the 2001 figure of 12 per cent. Identical proportions “ 52 per cent “ of Catholic primary students and Catholic secondary students attended Catholics schools, the same as in 2001. Non-Catholics made up 21 per cent of the students at Catholic primary schools and 28 per cent at Catholic secondary schools, up from 19 per cent and 26 per cent respectively in 2001. These Census figures are part of a comprehensive package of 2006 Census data on the Australian Catholic population obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC). An extended profile of Australia’s Catholics can be found on the ACBC website at https://www.catholic.org.au/ and also at www.ppo.catholic.org.au. For further details, contact Bob Dixon on 03 9953 3456.

Australia’s Catholics in 2006 an extended profile Mass attenders, Catholic population and Australian population compared 2006 demographic characteristics for persons aged 15 and over Massattenders Catholicpopulation Australianpopulation Demographic characteristic (Aged 15 & over) (Aged 15 & over) (Aged 15 & over) Median age (years) 58 43 43 % female 61 53 51 % degree or higher 28 15 16 % born overseas 36 29 28 % married 68 51 50 % in de facto relationship 1 7 9 % currently separated or divorced 5 10 11 % widowed 10 6 6 Number of persons 595,264 4,045,626 15,918,082 Notes: Only persons aged 15 and over are included in this comparison as no demographic data is available for Mass attenders aged under 15. The Catholic population includes the Mass attenders and the Australian population includes the Catholic population % born overseas is for age 20+ in all three categories Sources of data: National Church Life Survey 2006 and Australian Bureau of Statistics – 2006 Census of Population and Housing Where Australia’s Catholics live New South Wales is the State where Catholics made up the highest proportion of the population (28.2%), although it was only a little less (28.0%) in the ACT. Catholics made up only 18.4 per cent and 20.2 per cent of the population in Tasmania and South Australia respectively.

Catholics by State and Territory State / Territory Catholics Total Persons Per cent Catholic New South Wales 1,845,360 6,549,527 28.2 ACT 90,855 324,130 28.0 Victoria 1,355,916 4,932,556 27.5 Queensland 936,595 3,904,373 24.0 South Australia 305,189 1,514,265 20.2 Western Australia 464,357 1,961,062 23.7 Tasmania 87,802 476,464 18.4 Northern Territory 40,810 192,911 21.2 Australia 5,126,884 19,855,288 25.8 Source of data: Australian Bureau of Statistics – 2006 Census of Population and Housing The biggest and smallest parishes in Australia The largest parishes in the country were Burleigh Heads, in Queensland, with over 28,000 Catholics, Narre Warren in Victoria, and Maroochydore, also in Queensland. Twenty-three parishes had Catholic populations in excess of 14,000. On the other hand, twenty-one parishes had fewer than 250 Catholics; Campbell Town in Tasmania was the smallest, with only 84 Catholics.

Australia’s largest parishes 23 parishes with more than 14,000 Catholics Parish Diocese Catholics Total Persons Per cent Catholic Burleigh Heads Brisbane 28,061 116,636 24.1 Narre Warren Sale 20,054 67,082 29.9 Maroochydore Brisbane 19,312 92,512 20.9 Camden Wollongong 17,939 51,546 34.8 Caloundra Brisbane 17,566 87,984 20.0 South Tuggeranong Canberra & Goulburn 17,224 53,969 31.9 Salisbury Adelaide 17,213 79,640 21.6 St Albans Melbourne 17,018 38,800 43.9 Surfers Paradise Brisbane 16,967 71,009 23.9 Southport Brisbane 16,946 74,383 22.8 Caboolture Brisbane 16,042 78,573 20.4 Werribee Melbourne 15,705 44,804 35.1 Gladstone Park Melbourne 15,388 31,785 48.4 Bonnyrigg Sydney 15,127 35,777 42.3 Mill Park Melbourne 14,971 39,499 37.9 Laverton Melbourne 14,955 43,459 34.4 Croydon Melbourne 14,805 68,520 21.6 Nowra Wollongong 14,699 66,063 22.2 Craigieburn Melbourne 14,652 39,040 37.5 Browns Plains Brisbane 14,501 68,355 21.2 Castle Hill Parramatta 14,183 45,364 31.3 Keilor Downs – Kealba Melbourne 14,081 31,057 45.3 Bundaberg Rockhampton 14,025 72,202 19.4 Source of data: Australian Bureau of Statistics – 2006 Census of Population and Housing Australia’s smallest parishes 21 parishes with fewer than 250 Catholics Parish Diocese Catholics Total Persons Per cent Catholic Campbell Town Hobart 84 743 11.3 Jugiong Canberra & Goulburn 108 406 26.6 Flinders Island Hobart 119 866 13.7 Quairading Perth 167 1,019 16.4 Wandoan Towoomba 174 919 18.9 Jabiru Darwin 175 1,134 15.4 Corrigin Perth 186 1,145 16.2 Ungarie Canberra & Goulburn 193 716 27.0 Aramac Rockhampton 199 721 27.6 Weethalle Canberra & Goulburn 205 898 22.8 Surat Towoomba 206 756 27.2 Mallee Border Adelaide 219 2,131 10.3 Norseman Perth 223 1,073 20.8 Finch Hatton Rockhampton 227 851 26.7 Texas Towoomba 235 1,126 20.9 New Norcia Perth 237 1,065 22.3 Richmond Townsville 238 901 26.4 Parish Diocese Catholics Total Persons Per cent Catholic Minnipa Port Pirie 239 1,311 18.2 Barellan Canberra & Goulburn 244 731 33.4 Bribbaree Canberra & Goulburn 244 860 28.4 Alpha Rockhampton 249 919 27.1 Source of data: Australian Bureau of Statistics – 2006 Census of Population and Housing Where Australia’s Catholics come from The major overseas birthplaces of Catholics in the 2006 Census were, in order, Italy, Great Britain, the Philippines, New Zealand, Croatia and other Former Yugoslavia, Ireland (including Northern Ireland), Malta, Poland, Vietnam and India.

Almost 100,000 Catholics arrived in Australia from overseas between 2003 and 2006, the greatest numbers coming from the Philippines, Great Britain, the Middle East and North Africa, New Zealand, Central and South America, and India. Major birthplaces of Australian Catholics Birthplace Catholics Individual countries Australia 3,829,531 Italy 184,240 Great Britain 125,921 Philippines 96,572 New Zealand 59,622 Croatia and other Former Yugoslavia 46,317 Ireland (Including Northern Ireland) 41,662 Malta 40,402 Poland 39,484 Viet Nam 35,402 India 34,501 Germany 31,029 Lebanon 29,197 Netherlands 26,610 Sri Lanka 16,767 South Africa 16,039 Chile 15,495 Indonesia 14,513 Malaysia 14,487 Mauritius 14,090 Korea, Republic of (South) 12,789 Iraq 12,234 Hungary 11,335 Hong Kong 11,314 Austria 10,510 Other regions European countries (excluding those listed above) 73,686 South and Central America (excluding Chile) 40,101 Middle East and North Africa (except Lebanon and Iraq) 24,634 Oceania (except Australia and New Zealand) 20,274 South-East Asia (except Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia) 21,076 North America 19,396 Birthplaces with more than 10,000 Catholics Source of data: Australian Bureau of Statistics – 2006 Census of Population and Housing What languages do Australia’s Catholics speak at home?

Italian, with over 287,000 speakers, remains by far the most common language other than English spoken at home by Catholics, followed by Filipino languages, Arabic, Spanish, Croatian, Vietnamese, Polish and Chinese languages. Catholics most likely to say that they did not speak English well were those who spoke Korean, Vietnamese, Assyrian (the language of Chaldean Catholics) or Portuguese at home. About 8,300 Catholics spoke an Australian Indigenous language at home. Major languages spoken at home by Australia’s Catholics Language Catholics Italian 287,233 Filipino languages 77,348 Arabic 70,100 Spanish 66,234 Croatian 57,797 Vietnamese 55,701 Polish 44,615 Chinese languages 42,859 Maltese 35,085 French 23,398 German 22,583 Portuguese 21,121 Indonesian-Malay languages 13,423 Korean 13,421 Hungarian 13,412 Assyrian 12,459 Dutch 12,044 Oceanic & Papuan languages 12,014 Languages spoken at home by more than 12,000 Catholics Source of data: Australian Bureau of Statistics – 2006 Census of Population and Housing. The figures from the Australian Census describe the population that identifies itself as Catholic in the Census. Watch out for regular updates to this profile over the next few months. The ACBC Pastoral Projects Office is now engaged in the production of comprehensive census reports for every parish in Australia. These will be sent to parishes a little later in the year.