Australia’s cultural diversity


Australia has a unique history that has shaped the diversity of its peoples, their cultures and lifestyles today. Three major contributors to Australia’s demographic make-up are a diverse Indigenous population, a British colonial past and extensive immigration from many different countries and cultures. Today, Australia’s population of about 23.4 million is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse populations in the world.

Although the majority of the population are Australian born,

  • More than 75% of Australians identified with an ancestry other than Australian as their first response to the 2016 Census question;
  • About 3% of Australians identified as being Aboriginal, Torres Strait islander or both; and
  • About 45% reported having at least one parent who has born overseas.

Around 26% of the population were born in another country. Of the overseas born, the major countries of birth were England, New Zealand and China. About 19% of overseas born Australians were born in non-English speaking countries [1]. In all, Australians come from over 200 birthplaces.

Collectively, Australians speak over 200 languages. Languages other than English are spoken by about 21% of the population. Of these, almost 64,800 people reported speaking an Indigenous language. Other than English, the most common languages spoken today are Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Italian. There are over 50 Indigenous languages and Australian creoles actively spoken [2] by Australians.

The major religion in Australia is Christianity with about 52% of the population identifying as Christian. This group comprises over 70 different Christian denominations with the major denominations being Catholic; Anglican; Uniting Church; Presbyterian and Reformed; and Eastern Orthodox. Other major religions represented in Australia today include Buddhism (2% of the population), Islam (3%), Hinduism (2%) and Judaism (less than 1%). Almost 8,100 Australians practise Aboriginal traditional religions. Almost 30% of Australians reported having no religion.