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Census 2021: India third largest source of migrants in Australia

Significant shifts in the growth of Hinduism as a religion and in Punjabi as spoken language

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India has become the third-largest source of migrants in Australia, according to the 2021 Census.

Results of the Census released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that India has surpassed New Zealand and China to reach the third spot.

Hinduism has grown significantly, with 684,002 Hindus in the country, or 2.7 per cent of the population.

In terms of the number of people who speak a language other than English at home, Punjabi has seen the largest increase, coming in third behind Mandarin and Arabic.

Australia is now a country of 25.5 million people. This is an increase of over two million people (2,020,896), or 8.6 per cent, since the 2016 Census.

COUNTRY OF BIRTH

Nearly half of Australians have a parent born overseas (48.2 per cent), and 27.6 per cent report an overseas birthplace themselves, revealing that our population continues to be drawn from around the globe.

More than one million people (1,020,007) arrived in Australia as migrants since 2017.

The largest increase in country of birth, outside Australia, was India with 220,000 (217,963) additional people counted.

The second largest increase in country of birth was Nepal, with an additional 70,000 (67,752) people, meaning the population of Nepali born has more than doubled since 2016 (an increase of 123.7 per cent).

RELIGION

Christianity continues to be the main religion in Australia, with 43.9% identifying as Christian. However, its numbers have dropped from over 50 per cent (52.1 per cent) in 2016 and from over 60 per cent (61.1 per cent) in 2011.

More people chose ‘no religion’ while reporting their religious affiliation. Almost 40 per cent (38.9 per cent) of Australia’s population reported having no religion in the 2021 Census, an increase from 30 per cent (30.1 per cent) in 2016 and 22 per cent (22.3 per cent) in 2011.

Islam has grown to 813,392 people, which is 3.2 per cent of the Australian population.

Hinduism has grown by 55.3 per cent to 684,002 people, or 2.7 per cent of the population.

a house lit up for Hindu festival of lights
Diwali lights in Sydney (Pic: Manjunath Hukkeri)

These numbers reveal increasing diversity in the religions Australians identify with, reflecting continuing changes in our social attitudes and belief systems.

LANGUAGE

In terms of the number of people who speak a language other than English at home, Punjabi has seen the largest increase, coming in third behind Mandarin and Arabic. 239,000 (239,033) people speak Punjabi, an increase of over 80 per cent (80.4 per cent) from 2016.  [Nearly 700,000 (685,274) people speak Mandarin at home, followed by Arabic with just over 367,000 (367,159) people.]

Neena Mand Punjabi art
Sikh art by Sydney artist Neena Mand

The number of people who speak a language other than English at home has increased by nearly 800,000 (792,062) from 2016 to over 5.5 million people (5,663,709). 850,000 (852,706) of this group reported that they do not speak English well or at all.

More insights on Australia’s population characteristics will be revealed in the second and third releases of Census data. In October, the ABS will release information about education and employment and travel to work, and early next year it will release location-specific socio-economic information.

READ ALSO: The Indian-origin migrant according to the 2016 Census

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