NCLS Research

Your Community Social Profile

The Community Social Profile (CSP) provides you with a unique picture of your local community. It helps you understand some of the main characteristics of your community and how it is changing.

Going Deeper

FAQ You will find the answers to frequently asked questions here.

Samples There are also samples of CSPs and other supportive material from the Community Social Profile Kit.

How to Use CSP Creative ideas, stories and practical guides for how to use the CSP.

On This Page


Fast Facts

  • Community Social Profiles (CSP) are based on a selection of information from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing
  • Unless otherwise specified, the ‘community’ comprises all people within a two km radius of the church centre in urban areas and a five km radius around the church centre in rural areas.
  • It is possible to get a Custom CSP. Send a map or a description of the desired area to obtain a CSP for almost any area. NCLS staff will explain available options
  • Catholic parishes can obtain a free Census profile on the Catholic population of their parish by contacting their diocesan offices

Your Community Social Profile

The Community Social Profile (CSP) provides you with a unique picture of your local community.

Available to All: We can provide anyone with a Community Social Profile. Send a map or a description of the desired area to the NCLS office (PO Box A2178, Sydney South 1235, info@ncls.org.au) and it will be matched as closely as possible .

Participating Churches: Congregations that took part in the 2001 NCLS were sent a unique CSP in late 2003 describing the local community around each church centre. (2 km radius for urban; 5 km for rural)

Online Access coming: In the future we hope to offer online access to these Profiles.

Customised Community Social Profiles: For some congregations, information based on 2 or 5 km radius is not sufficient for their ministry and mission needs. Regional congregations may also need a profile of the community for a wider area. Others may need a profile for a different area, such as a suburb or parish area. Still others may want information on a smaller area, such as a neighbourhood. All of these needs can be met by requesting a CSP for a designated area. NCLS staff will discuss options with you.

Catholic parishes can obtain a free Census profile on the Catholic population of their parish by contacting their diocesan offices


What is in a CSP

The Community Social Profile begins with a summary of local statistics on selected sub-groups of the population. Other national statistics in relation to these groups are also provided in the companion publication Profiling Australians: Social and religious characteristics of the population. From the local statistics you can quickly see whether such groups are significant in your local community.

The Community Social Profile then outlines the following sets of information from the 2001 Census:

  • total population
  • age profile
  • marital status
  • family type
  • housing tenure
  • religious identification
  • employment status
  • occupation
  • average weekly income
  • highest educational qualification
  • internet and computer use
  • country of birth
  • language spoken at home

The Community Social Profile may indicate the presence of different subcultures in your local area. For instance, the proportion of people born in particular countries indicates the cultural, religious and social background of people living around your church centre. Similarly, the age profile of the community could well indicate important generational differences that you need to consider when planning for mission.

The data may confirm hunches that you have from your own observations of your local community. The Community Social Profile helps to provide the broader picture in which you can locate your own experiences.

Introducing the Community Social Profile Kit

The Community Social Profile Kit seeks to assist churches to:
  • look at what their community is like
  • see who they are currently connecting with
  • work out how to improve connections with the community.

It includes:
  1. Community Social Profile (CSP) - summary of key data from the 2001 national Census for people in your local community
  2. Church and Community Profiles (CCP) - compares 2001 Census data for your local community with data from the 2001 NCLS for people in your church.
  3. Looking at Our Community - a guidebook to assist with reading the CSP and CCP.
  4. Profiling Australians - a booklet that reviews the social and religious characteristics of selected community groups such as blue-collar workers, young people, single parents.

Churches often see the gospel and church attendance as being equally available to all. Many churches work hard at making their services and activities as accessible as possible to a wide range of people. But in practice do the churches effectively reach all sections of the population?

Many sections of the population continue to be under-represented in church life, including young adults, men, blue collar workers and the less educated to name a few. The question is: what are the best ways to reach these groups? Some favour the creation of special ministries targeted at meeting the needs or cultural expectations of each group. Others prefer ministries for a wider audience while ensuring that certain sections of the population are not being excluded. It is not often that a product comes along that is useful in resourcing either approach.

NCLS Research has prepared a unique profile of the local community from the 2001 Census, for each congregation that participated in the 2001 National Church Life Survey.

The Community Social Profile Kit will enable you to better understand some of the unique characteristics of your community and how your community is changing. Where possible, you will see similarities and differences with the make up of the local church.

The Profiling Australians booklet will help with strategic questions about what is important to different social groups, work and leisure patterns, and what they think about spiritual matters.

Those who wish to target specific groups will be happy as the kit provides not only the size of these groups, but also their interests, beliefs, and attitudes. Others will value looking at how representative the church community is of the local community, providing fuel for questions such as, 'who are the marginalised groups in our community?'

The NCLS Community Social Profile Kit provides clear information and processes to use in a range of creative ways. Whether your approach is general or specialist, NCLS can assist you.


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