All The Surprising, Exciting And Depressing Things From The 2016 Census

We're more gay, Asian and Atheist than ever before.


The 2016 Census data is officially out, and it’s bad news for conservatives and everyone scared of change! It turns out Australia is more gay, more multicultural and less religious than ever. We’re also getting older, and flocking to our overpriced capital cities in droves. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.

If you’re a big nerd and would like to hook the good data content straight into your veins, you can do so right here, but for everyone else here’s what you need to know about Australia’s shifting demographics.

Turns Out Aussies Are More Diverse Than Ever

In a bummer for Pauline Hanson and a win for reasonable people, cultural diversity in Australia is on the rise. Forty-nine percent of the population in 2016 was either born overseas, or had at least one parent born overseas, up from 43.1 percent from 2011. Twenty-six percent of the population are migrants — a higher rate than in the US, UK, New Zealand, or Canada. Our Indigenous population also grew by 18 percent over the last five years.

If those numbers weren’t enough to strike fear into the hearts of bigots everywhere, then enter the gays. This year’s census saw a 42 percent increase in same-sex couples since 2011. If you look at those numbers over the past decade, that becomes a whopping 81 percent increase. That’s a rise from 26,000 same-sex couples in 2006, to 47,000 in 2016 (if anyone would like to date me, we can make that 47,001)

Losing Our Religion

For the first time, the number of people reporting no religious affiliation has overtaken Catholicism as the single largest religious group. Thirty percent of the population reported no religion in 2016, a huge increase from 22 percent in 2011. The proportion of Catholics has dropped from 25.3 percent to 23 percent over the same period.

Christianity in general still accounts for most of the population (52.1 percent), but that percentage has also been dropping steadily over time, down from 61.1 percent in 2011. Jedis, too, are on the decline, lending the title of the next Star Wars film a kind of grim statistical accuracy.

While Christians appear to be greying and withering into old age, non-Christian religions are on the rise, with Islam and Hinduism in particular growing since 2011. Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and atheists tend to be relatively young, suggesting that religious diversity is only going to grow over time.

RIP, Dreams Of Home Ownership

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has also confirmed that we are a nation of idiots, flocking to our unaffordable capital cities in droves despite widespread housing crises.

Here’s a cool stat to ruin your day if you’re looking for accommodation in Sydney: the population growth data shows approximately 1,656 people moved to the hell city each week since last census. Sydney also boasts the unenviable title of Home To Australia’s Highest Median Weekly Rent, at a cool $440 per week.

Also in depressing news, our population continues to shuffle towards old age and death. As the boomer generation ‘matures’ (air quotes courtesy of the ABS, not my sass), one sixth of the population is now over 65.

Yeah But What Happened To #censusfail?

If you haven’t furiously repressed all memories of late last year (we wouldn’t blame you), you might remember that the 2016 census didn’t exactly go smoothly. Actually, it was an absolute clusterfuck, with the ABS’s fancy new online system buckling under the weight of demand and going down hard, rendering the census inaccessible for the majority of census night and causing #censusfail to trend on twitter. Ouch.

As for whether this affected the data, the jury still seems to be out. The official census press release this morning reported a response rate of 95.1 percent which seems pretty good, until you remember the Prime Minister’s special adviser on cyber security previously reported that a response rate of 96.5 percent would make the census “fit for purpose”. It’s unclear as yet what kind of impact the 1.4 percent discrepancy will have.

Over the next few months the ABS will release even more juicy census data, and we’ll be bringing you all of the best bits. Stay tuned!