Catholics and the 2006 Census ‘“ a Brief Look

June 29, 2007 12:07 pm

The 2006 Catholic Census population was 5,126,844, up from 5,001,624 in 2001 – an increase of 125,260, or 2.5 per cent. However, Mr Bob Dixon from the ACBC’s Pastoral Projects Office said that as the total population grew at a faster rate, 5.8%, than the Catholic population, the proportion of Catholics in the Australian population has declined slightly, from 26.6 per cent to 25.8 per cent. There were substantial falls between 2001 and 2006 in the number of people identifying themselves as belonging to the Anglican, Presbyterian and Reformed, Salvation Army, Churches of Christ and Uniting Church traditions. On the other hand, there were large increases in the number of Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. The Brethren, the Mormons and the Pentecostals also recorded strong growth. NSW recorded both the highest number and the highest proportion (28.2%) of Catholics in 2006. The ACT, which had the highest proportion of Catholics (29.1%) in 2001, slipped into second place in 2006, with (28.0%). The strongest growth in the number of Catholics, however, was in Victoria and Queensland, where the Catholic population increased by about 46,000 in each State. By contrast, the Catholic population of the Northern Territory fell by over 4,000, in line with the fall in the overall population there. The State with the lowest proportion of Catholics was Tasmania, with 18.4 per cent. The Northern Territory had by far the youngest Catholic age profile, with 25 per cent being aged under 15 years, and only 5.3 per cent aged 65 years or over. In South Australia, by contrast, only 19 per cent were aged under 15, while 15.7 per cent were aged 65 or over. Mr Dixon said that it should be noted that totals can vary slightly from table to table due to ABS techniques designed to protect confidentiality. Members of the public can extract information on their local area by going to the ABS website at