Census shows Christianity not dead

Headshot of Gavin Box
Gavin BoxGeraldton Guardian
Basilica Notre-Dame of Geneva. Stained glass window. The passion of Jesus Christ. Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo by: Godong/UIG via Getty Images)
Camera IconBasilica Notre-Dame of Geneva. Stained glass window. The passion of Jesus Christ. Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo by: Godong/UIG via Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images

Christianity remains far from a spent force in Geraldton, according to 2016 Census figures.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently showed 21,458 people (62.5 per cent) in the City of Greater Geraldton nominated Christianity as their religion, higher than the national figure of 57 per cent and WA’s 55 per cent.

Of those, almost half were Catholics and almost a third were Anglicans, followed by other denominations.

The number of Christian adherents in Geraldton rose by about 200 people in the decade from 2006-2016.

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In all age groups, including late teens and 20-somethings, professing Christians outnumbered those with no religion.

The next three biggest faith groupings were Islam (1.5 per cent), Buddhism (1.04 per cent) and Hinduism (0.4 per cent).

One in three people (11,652) nominated no religion, compared to 7133 in 2006, but a census disclaimer warned changes to the religion question may account for the significantly higher response.

For the first time in the census, the “no religion” option was positioned first on the list of possible responses.

Despite the so-called march of secularism in Australian society, less than 1 per cent (0.25 per cent) said they had secular beliefs.

Marriage, sometimes maligned as a social institution, remained the dominant union, with 11,777 people (45.8 per cent) in a registered marriage.

Those in the census category of de facto marriage, which includes same-sex couples, numbered 3533 (13.7 per cent).

Aside from rises in the population and cost of living, there was little change in the snapshot of Geraldton life in the decade from 2006-2016.

The population increased by 12 per cent, from 33,864 in 2006 to 38,634 in 2016.

The median household income rose from $958 to $1335.

Median monthly mortgage repayments almost doubled, from $1000 to $1733, but that could be a sign of lower interest rates and a saving mentality in trying economic times, rather than a reflection on housing costs.

Median rental payments almost doubled from $135 a week to $265.

The cultural mix remained the same, with almost all residents born in Australia (29,553), followed by the UK (1875), New Zealand (723), South Africa (524) and the Philippines (458) rounding out the top five nations represented.

Of those born in Australia, 12 per cent (3739) were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.

Housing and education remain an issue for the indigenous community.

Figures showed a higher proportion of indigenous people renting than in homeownership and the proportion of households needing extra bedrooms was 10 to one compared with the rest of the community.

The proportion of people completing Year 12 was also lower, although most had completed at least Year 10.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release more census figures, including job statistics, in October.

Typical Geraldton resident (according to 2016 Census)

* 38-year-old woman

* Born in Australia of Australian-born parents

* Married with two children

* Christian

* Speaks English at home

* Pays $1733 a month mortgage on a three-bedroom house

* Household income of $1348 a week

* Has two cars

* Does between five and 14 hours of unpaid work around the home

* Finished Year 12

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