2021 Census Snapshot

The young and the faithful at Immaculate Conception Church (ICC), 345 Burwood Road, Hawthorn: Australia Wide religious affiliation saw a marked decline in the 2021 census.

The 2021 Census results released on 28 June this year, reveal the pandemic had Australia gaining in birthrates and income, but little else. Overall, we saw stagnation or decline in faith, immigration and marriages, to name a few. In Hawthorn however, trends indicate a resounding ‘status quo’ at play.

Population wise, Victoria hit 5.93 million in 2016, whereas at the time of the 2021 census, it clocked in at 6.5 million. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that nationally, Australia’s population grew by just 0.3% between 2020 and 2021 from 25.69 million to 25.72. This growth was due almost exclusively to birthrates, as overseas migration actually went into negative figures with an estimated loss of 67,000 people based on national averages. There were 303,700 births during the past 18 months, far outnumbering deaths at 167,500. Hawthorn’s population in 2021 was 23,568 - up slightly from 22,379 in 2016. Females still outrank males by 4%, which is reflected in the national average of 2% more women. In Hawthorn, the average age shifted from 34 in 2016 down to 32 in the most recent figures. Faith-wise, Hawthorn saw virtually no decline in an already low number of practising Catholics.

In 2021, that number reached 18.4%, which was down a mere 0.4% since 2016. However, Australia wide, 29.6% of the population described having ‘no religion’ in 2016, which jumped considerably to 38.4% in 2021. In 2006, only 19% of Australians reported being ‘non-religious’, showing the trend almost doubled in 15 years. Perhaps due to the pandemic, marriage rates both locally and nationally declined, despite the 2017 introduction of the marriage equality bill. In Hawthorn, marriage rates dropped 1.8%. As for multiculturalism, since 2016 our largest number of overseas-born residents have been Indian and Chinese respectively. In 2021, both cultures dropped roughly a full percentage point each to 4% (India) and 3.1% (China).


Between the borders reopening and the baby boom, figures for the next census (in 2026) around population should see some recovery. As for marriages and religious affiliation, it is safe to say that Australia is in a transitional phase of rethinking its position on traditional institutions.