On or around 10 August 2021, over 25 million people in Australia completed the Census of Population and Housing administered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Among other things, the Census data demonstrates the multitude of cultures and languages that make up Australia by providing data on variables such as country of birth, ancestry, languages used at home, and religious affiliation. This data is more significant than ever, with the COVID-19 pandemic showing how important it is for people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds to have appropriate resources and access to life-saving information.
The initial results of that Census relating to the key population data were released on 28 June 2022. Below is a snapshot of that data insofar that it relates to the Macedonian community in Australia:
1. Country of birth
For the first time, more than half of all Australian residents (51.5%) are born overseas or have a parent born overseas.
The Census data shows a total of 41,786 people reported as being born in Macedonia. About 93% of those people are Australian citizens and around 76% are aged 50 and over.
These figures have marginally increased from the last Australian Census in 2016, where a total of 38,985 people reported being born in Macedonia.
There has been an increase of over 13% of people identifying as being of Macedonian ancestry since the last Census in 2016 (98,441).
About 111,352 people identify as being of Macedonian ancestry with 49,429 (44.4%) of those people living in Victoria and 43,775 (39.3%) living in New South Wales.
3. Language spoken at home
The data shows that Australia continues to be a culturally and linguistically diverse country having collected information on over 250 ancestries and 350 languages spoken in Australia.
A total of 66,173 people speak the Macedonian language at home.
This figure demonstrates a slight increase in the data in the 2016 Census where it was reported that 66,019 people spoke Macedonian at home.
Macedonian is the most widely spoken Eastern European language in Australian homes. It is the language that Macedonian Australians freely choose to speak, nurture, and preserve in their homes. At a crucial time in Macedonia’s EU accession process, when all manner of politics is employed by Bulgaria to debase the Macedonian language, the Australian census data speaks volumes of its significance to so many in the Macedonian Australian diaspora.
4. Religious affiliation
The Census reveals increasing diversity in the religious and non-religious beliefs identified by Australians. The top 5 religious affiliations noted in the Census were “No religion” at 38.9%, “Catholic” at 20%, “Anglican” at 9.8%, “Islam” at 3.2%, and “Hinduism” at 2.7%.
The Census data does not presently show the number of people identifying as “Macedonian Orthodox”. However, it does report that 535,470 people identify as “Eastern Orthodox” with 168,031 being born in Southern and Eastern Europe (including the “Macedonian Orthodox” denomination).
This figure is only a slight increase from the Census data in 2016, in which 502,801 Australians identified as “Eastern Orthodox”.
If you would like to find out more information, you can explore the Census data at: www.abs.gov.au/census/find-census-data.