What We Learnt From The 2021 Census Data Results

From millennials taking over baby boomers, to women doing more chores at home.

census 2021

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The latest census data has finally been released, unveiling the ever-changing shape and face of Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics uploaded its first national findings from the 2021 census on Tuesday in an update from its 2016 predecessor.

Census night last August ended up capturing the details of 25.5 million people during the height of the Delta Coronavirus strain. The questionnaire requested information on everything from how much rent a household is paying, to whether an individual has served in the Australian Defence Force or not.

Here are the most interesting bits and pieces from the 2021 census results.

LGBTIQ Insights (Or Lack Thereof)

The 2021 census was a historic first for capturing information about non-binary Australians, by adding a third response option to the sex question, conflated with gender. However, the move was challenged for being too limited in scope and isolating members of the LGBTIQ community, and therefore potentially producing inaccurate data.

The ABS said last Thursday that they would not be releasing the ‘non-binary sex count’ on Tuesday, only ‘male’ and ‘female’, saying “sex was derived using a statistical process of random allocation” in a statement.

Additionally, while the census asked about relationships through marital status, it did not delve into sexual orientation either -and as it stands, we have no concrete data on how many LGBTIQ people live in Australia.

“Once again, lesbian, gay, bi+, transgender, intersex, and queer people are not properly represented in the census data,” said CEO of Equality Australia Anna Brown in a statement. “Until we’re counted, we’ll remain invisible. That’s why — with the first release of 2021 census data — our communities are coming together again to say that it’s time for the census to stop leaving LGBTIQ+ people out, and count us in.”

Statistician Dr David Gruen AO admitted the ABS was not asked by the Morrison Government to be more inclusive of other people in the queer community. “There will be an opportunity to revisit that for the 2026 Census and the ABS will engage in a public consultation process, starting later this year, to ask the community if there are other questions that people think that we should be asking,” he said.

It follows a widespread criticism last year around the omission, and its implications for essential services like tailored healthcare, education, and housing for the LGBTIQ community. This is despite consultations as far back as 2018 calling for more gender identity and sexual orientation questions that ended up not being implemented in last year’s census.

Household Chores

Women are grappling with gender pay gaps and barriers in the workplace, but back at home, the census has also revealed they are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to housework.

Asked about the number of hours unpaid domestic work over the last week at the time, 29.1 percent of male respondents reported they did none at all, compared to 22.4 percent women.

On the other end of the extreme, 13.1 percent of women reported they did 30 hours of domestic work a week, compared to only 3.9 percent of men, while in between, women did more hours every time bar the ‘less than five hours’ category.

The Conversation points out that the unique factor this time around, in the 15 years since the question has been asked in the census, is the blurring of work and home due to the pandemic, and called on the Federal Government for better childrearing support, such as universal childcare and paid caregiver leave.

Indigenous Reflections

Australia’s Indigenous population is also on the rise, with a more than 25 percent reported increase since the 2016 census. The latest figure revealed 812,728 people identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, comprising 3.2 percent of the overall population.

On census night, it was also recorded that nearly 170 Indigenous languages were spoken at home by nearly 77,000 people, and the median age for the demographic has increased to be a year older in comparison to 2016.

“That means that Australia’s Indigenous population has doubled in 20 years — an extraordinary increase…”

“When the census’ final estimate is published next year, the official Indigenous population estimate will be just shy of one million, or around 980,000 people,” said Human Geographer at the Australian National University, Dr Francis Markham, to The New Daily. “That means that Australia’s Indigenous population has doubled in 20 years — an extraordinary increase.”

We also have a clearer sense of the number of Indigenous former or current defence force personnel, and now know there are double the number of people aged 65 years and older than in 2011. However, as raised by NITV, there are limitations to the data, including the breakdown of family compositions, and people experiencing homelessness, which without, can have an effect on services and policies that affect Indigenous communities.

Okay, Boomers

They might not be able to buy a house, but one thing millennials have over baby boomers is that they’re starting to outnumber them.

The ABS has revealed that within a “very small margin”, the number of 25 to 39-year-olds have caught up to 55 to 74-year-olds as the largest generational group in Australia — that is, more than 5.4 million each, with a mere 5662 additional boomers roaming around in comparison.

This is despite the 1966 census recording that two in every five people were baby boomers, after their infamous conception origin stories after World War II.

“The data collected by the census assists governments and community organisations to understand the needs of each generation,” said Gruen. “We see that an increasing number of baby boomers are needing assistance with core activities — with 7.4 percent reporting a need for assistance, compared to 2.8 percent across the younger generations.”

Amid the moral panic around religious affiliation this week, the census shared that just shy of 60 percent of boomers are still rolling with Jesus, while more than 45 percent of millennials reported having no religion.

Photo Credit: Rose Lamond/Unsplash