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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/1994   
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Contents >> Religion >> Special Feature: Geographic distribution of religions

Special Feature: Geographic distribution of religions

In 1991 there were more Anglicans than Catholics in Tasmania, and higher proportions of non-Christians in New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory than elsewhere.

There is considerable variation in the religious composition of the States and Territories, reflecting in part the settlement patterns of Australia's overseas born population and the correlation between religion and birthplace. There is also a tendency for some religious groups to cluster in certain local areas.

States and Territories
At the 1991 Census, over 75% of people in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania stated a Christian affiliation. In comparison, 65% of the Northern Territory population were Christian, a reflection of the higher than average proportions who either reported 'no religion' or who did not state a religion. This is less a function of the large Aboriginal component of the Northern Territory population, which has a similar pattern of religious affiliation to the population as a whole (see Trends in religious affiliation), than it is a reflection of the younger age profile of the Northern Territory population and the greater tendency of younger people to state 'no religion'. 18% of people in the Northern Territory stated 'no religion' and 14% did not answer the question. By contrast, equivalent figures for New South Wales were 10% and 9%.

The highest proportions of people with a non-Christian religion (over 3%) were found in New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory. Both New South Wales and Victoria receive high proportions of migrants and high proportions of the four main non-Christian religions (Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism) were found in these States. The higher proportion of non-Christians in the Northern Territory is a consequence of the presence of traditional Aboriginal religions among the indigenous population. Overall, 7% of the Northern Territory's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population reported a traditional religion.

In comparison, Queensland and Tasmania had low proportions of adherents to non-Christian religions. These States receive proportionally fewer migrants than New South Wales or Victoria, and those migrants who settle in Queensland or Tasmania are more likely to be from the main English- speaking countries (New Zealand in the case of Queensland and the UK in the case of Tasmania), and hence of Christian affiliation.

As well as the variation between States and Territories in the proportion of Christians, there was also variation in the mix of Christian affiliations. While the Catholic and Anglican denominations had the highest proportions of adherents in all States and Territories, their ranking relative to one another varied. In 1991, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory had larger numbers of Catholics than Anglicans. In Tasmania, Anglicans outnumbered Catholics by nearly two to one, reflecting that State's early British settlement and its low migrant intake from Europe and South East Asia. Queensland and Western Australia had almost equal proportions of Catholics and Anglicans.

South Australia had the highest proportion of Uniting Church adherents. This is mainly due to the relatively large proportion of Methodists in that State, relative to other States, prior to the merger of Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists to form the Uniting Church in 1977. South Australia also had the highest proportion of Lutherans reflecting the German immigration to that State last century.

The relatively large settlement of Greek migrants in Victoria in the early post-war period is responsible for the higher than average proportion of Orthodox adherents in Victoria while Oriental Christians, primarily from Egypt and Iraq, are mostly to be found in New South Wales. Denominations such as Jehovah's Witness, the Salvation Army and Seventh Day Adventist are fairly evenly distributed across the States and Territories.

RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION IN THE STATES AND TERRITORIES, 1991

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.
Religion
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Christian
77.2
70.7
77.0
70.3
69.7
76.3
64.6
71.1
74.0
Non-Christian
3.5
3.4
1.0
1.3
2.1
0.6
3.4
2.6
2.6
    Islam
1.4
1.2
0.2
0.2
0.5
0.1
0.4
0.7
0.9
    Buddhism
1.0
1.0
0.4
0.6
0.9
0.2
0.8
1.1
0.8
    Judaism
0.5
0.8
0.1
0.1
0.3
-
0.1
0.2
0.4
    Hinduism
0.4
0.3
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.2
0.4
0.3
    Other
0.2
0.2
0.2
0.3
0.3
0.2
2.0
0.3
0.2
No religion
10.0
14.4
11.6
17.4
17.1
12.2
18.0
16.3
12.9
Not stated
9.3
11.5
10.4
11.1
11.1
10.8
14.1
9.9
10.5
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Source: Census of Population and Housing

CHRISTIAN AFFILIATION IN THE STATES AND TERRITORIES, 1991

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.
Denomination
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Catholic
38.3
41.2
33.0
29.9
36.9
25.9
35.7
43.7
37.0
Anglican
35.4
25.8
32.8
25.5
37.8
48.2
26.4
30.6
32.2
Uniting Church
8.4
11.4
13.5
20.3
8.4
11.2
13.9
8.1
11.1
Presbyterian & Reformed
6.1
6.4
7.1
2.8
4.4
4.2
4.0
5.6
5.9
Orthodox
4.1
6.6
1.0
4.1
1.8
0.6
2.8
3.0
3.8
Baptist
2.1
2.0
2.5
2.8
2.3
2.9
4.6
1.8
2.2
Lutheran
0.9
1.5
3.0
7.3
1.0
0.7
6.3
2.1
2.0
Pentecostal
0.8
1.0
2.0
2.0
1.1
1.0
1.5
1.1
1.2
Jehovah's Witness
0.5
0.4
0.9
0.7
0.9
0.6
0.4
0.3
0.6
Salvation Army
0.5
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.6
0.9
0.6
0.4
0.6
Seventh Day Adventist
0.4
0.3
0.5
0.3
0.5
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.4
Oriental Christian
0.4
0.2
-
-
-
-
-
0.1
0.2
Other
2.1
2.6
3.2
3.6
4.2
3.5
3.6
2.7
2.8
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Source: Census of Population and Housing


Small area concentrations
People, particularly new immigrants, tend to settle where there are others who share a similar culture. This can lead to disproportionately high concentrations of particular groups in certain areas. For example, the proportions of people who are Lutheran in the Tanunda and Robertstown SLAs (Statistical Local Areas) of South Australia were more than thirty times the national average in 1991. This reflects the patterns of German settlement in South Australia last century. Similarly, Jewish settlement in Melbourne and Sydney and Greek settlement in Adelaide and Melbourne are reflected in the proportions of Jewish adherents (more than thirty times the national average) and Orthodox adherents (more than seven times the national average) in particular suburbs.

More recent immigration patterns are reflected in the proportions of Buddhists and Muslims in some suburbs. The settlement of Vietnamese born migrants in areas such as Darra-Sumner in Queensland (26% of the SLA population) and Fairfield in New South Wales (11% of the SLA population) accounts for the high proportions of Buddhists in these areas. Similarly, the settlement of Lebanese born migrants in Auburn in New South Wales and of Turkish born migrants in Broadmeadows in Victoria accounts for the high proportions of Muslims in these areas.

The concentration of particular Christian denominations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Northern Territory and Torres Strait Island region reflects the historical impact of church missions in these areas.

CONCENTRATIONS OF SELECTED RELIGIONS(a), 1991

Proportion of SLA
Proportion of SLA
Religion/SLA
State/Territory
%
Religion/SLA
State/Territory
%

CatholicBaptist
    Bathurst-Melville
NT
88.6
    Victoria
NT
34.8
    Daly
NT
64.6
    Tennant Creek (balance)
NT
32.8
    Australian total
. .
27.3
    Australian total
. .
1.7
AnglicanLutheran
    Green Ponds (M)
Tas.
58.7
    Tanunda (DC)
SA
53.0
    Torres (S)
Qld
58.5
    Robertstown (DC)
SA
49.9
    Australian total
. .
23.8
    Australian total
. .
1.5
Uniting
Islam
    Aurukun
Qld
59.3
    Auburn (M)
NSW
15.9
    Bute (DC)
SA
56.3
    Broadmeadows (C)
Vic.
9.1
    Australian total
. .
8.2
    Australian total
. .
0.9
Presbyterian & ReformedBuddhism
    Hampden (S)
Vic.
16.9
    Darra-Sumner
Qld
13.9
    Walcha (S)
NSW
15.9
    Fairfield (C)
NSW
11.4
    Australian total
. .
4.3
    Australian total
. .
0.8
OrthodoxJudaism
    Thebarton (M)
SA
23.1
    Caulfield (C)
Vic.
18.4
    Whittlesea
Vic.
20.0
    Waverley (M)
NSW
14.8
    Australian total
. .
2.8
    Australian total
. .
0.4

(a) Excludes areas with a population of less than 750. SLA - Statistical Local Area; C - City; DC - District Council; S - Shire; M - Municipality.

Source: Census of Population and Housing



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