NCLS Research

Culture and Religion

See pages 24 to 27 of your
Community Social Profile

Explore the culture and religion of people in your community, in your CSP. You can Share this with others, Engage this with reflective questions, Dig Deeper into background research and national trends or Apply this to your setting with worksheets and workshops. Choose an option to suit you.

Download your CSP and share
Churches can download a copy of their CSP, using their Admin Key on the NCLS website. The pdf file can be saved, emailed, uploaded, or a selection of pages can be printed from it.

Screen shots for power point and newsletters
Using a pdf version of your CSP, you can use the “Take a Snapshot” edit function in Adobe Acrobat Reader, to copy a section and paste it into a document or a power point presentation.

Questions to ask about information in your CSP

Migration in your Community (p. 24 of CSP)
• How well do you feel your church connects with the varying categories of overseas born people in your community?
• How are migrants assisted in your local community? Could your church be a part of this assistance?

Ancestry in your Community (p. 25 of CSP)
• Name the most common ancestries in your local area, and reflect on what signs you see of these cultural identities in your local community.
• Are there any particular ancestral groupings that show your community to be distinctive in Australia?
• How does your church take into account the cultural diversity in your local community when planning its activities?

Language in your Community (p. 26 of CSP)
• What are the major languages spoken at home (apart from English) in your local community? What issues of communication does this raise for your church?
• Does your local community have activities and initiatives aimed at those who are not fluent in English? Might your church be involved in any of these?
• Beyond language, how might your church respond to the cultural yearnings of those who are not fluent in English?

Religion in your Community (p. 27 of CSP)
• How has the religious profile of your local community changed since 2006?
• Are you surprised by where those who claim to be affiliated to your church’s denomination tend to be concentrated?

Prepare a report on your CSP
You might like to use the questions above or Worksheet 5 in your Workbook to summarise key points, to share with others in your church or community.

About Migration, Ancestry and Language
The Community Social Profile explores ethnicity of the community through a number of distinct sets of information. The Migration page shows Country of birth, where people were born, and Year of arrival, how long they have been in Australia. Ancestry takes you beyond a person’s country of birth to give an understanding of the potential influence of their ethnic heritage. On the Language page, Language spoken at home and Proficiency in English can both provide insight into a person’s cultural identity and integration into their local community.

View full list of Countries of Birth
View full list of Ancestries
View full list of Languages

Things to look for
The ABS provides information for the main 35 countries of birth nation-wide. The table in the Community Social Profile shows the countries from that list that are most common in your community. Noting the languages that people speak at home may shape how you communicate with the community - it’s not just about languages, but the cultural symbols and traditions as well.

National trends
Overseas migration into Australia has increased numerically from around 132,000 people in 2005-6 to 158,943 people in 2011-12**, but this represents a fairly static 1% of the total population*. Nationally, the 5 most common overseas countries of birth in 2011 were: the United Kingdom (20.3% of those born overseas), New Zealand (9.1%), mainland China (6.0%), India (5.6%) and Italy (3.5%). Twenty percent of the population speak a language other than English at home. In 2011 only 2.4% of Australians spoke English not well or not at all (a further 6% not stated).

*Department of Immigration and Citizenship (2007) Settler Arrivals 1996-7 to 2006-7 Australia States and Territories, Commonwealth of Australia, accessed from

About Religion
The Census asks an optional question: ‘What is this person’s religion?’. This does not tell you about beliefs, or active involvement in religious activities. It is simply an indication of religious affiliation or identification with certain religions or specific Christian denominations. People are divided into the following broad groups: Christian, Non-Christian, No Religion and Not Stated.

Many people who identify with a religion don’t actively participate in religious activities, such as church. They may be more likely to participate in religious festivals such as Christmas, Saints’ Days, Passover or Ramadan, or rite-of-passage events such as weddings and funerals. Previous research shows that the proportion who attend at least one Christian service per year could be as high as seven out of every ten Australians*.

National trends
In the 2011 Census, Australians identified with the following religions: Catholic (25.3%), Anglican (17.1%), Uniting Church (5%), other Christian denominations (13.7%) and non-Christian religions (8%). Some 22.3% of Australians stated that they had no religion and 8.6% chose not to answer the question.

The proportion of people identifying with the Christian faith has declined over the years, but the majority (61.1%) still identify with a Christian denomination. However, less than 20% of the population claim to attend church at least monthly *.

Those professing ‘no religion’ have been a growing proportion (19% in 2006 to 22.3% in 2011). They also tend to be younger people. Just over one in ten did not answer the question about religion at all. Adherence to non-Christian religions is small overall, but has been increasing over the years, largely due to immigration. In 2011 the proportion of Australians affiliated with non-Christian religions were as follows: Buddhism (2.5%), Islam (2.2%), Hinduism (1.3%), Judaism (0.5%), others (1.6%).

*Bellamy, J, Black, A, Castle, K, Hughes, P and Kaldor, P. (2002) Why People Don’t Go to Church, Openbook Publishers Adelaide p80 ** ibid p8 

See the Community Social Profile Guide for more information, including Technical Notes and how to understand Tables, Maps and Graphs.

Tip sheets- how to use the CSP to inform Multicultural Ministry or Interfaith Dialogue
Download Multicultural Ministry Tip Sheet

Workshop processes to walk through your CSP
There are a variety of Workshop Processes in your Workbook to plan effective ways to improve your connections to the wider community.

Worksheets for use
A selection of Worksheets are available in your Workbook to use alongside your CSP, to look at your community, chart connections and apply the information.

The CSP, Workbook and Guide can be accessed online by those churches who purchase their Community Connections Pack. Enter your Admin Key under "Administer Your Church". Your Admin Key was included on the cover letter in your Pack.

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