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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, a British colonial past and extensive immigration from many different countries and cultures. Today, Australia’s population of about 25.4 million is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse populations in the world.

Although the majority of the population are Australian born, according to the 2021 Census:

  • More than 75% of Australians identify with an ancestry other than Australian (based on their first response to the census question on ancestry);
  • 2% of Australians are Aboriginal, Torres Strait islander or both; and
  • Over half (51.5%) of Australian residents were born overseas (first generation) or have a parent born overseas (second generation).

Around 28% of the population were born in another country. Of the overseas born, the major countries of birth were England, India and China. About 21% 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 23% of the population. Of these, about 79,000 people reported speaking an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language. Other than English, the most common languages spoken today are Mandarin, Arabic, Vietnamese and Cantonese. There are over 167 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and Australian creoles spoken.

The major religion in Australia is Christianity with 43.9% of the population identifying as Christian. This group comprises 19 different Christian denominations with the major denominations being Catholic; Anglican; Christian; Uniting Church; Eastern Orthodox and Presbyterian and Reformed. Other major religions represented in Australia today include Islam (3.5% of the population), Hinduism (2.9%), Buddhism (2.6%), and Judaism (less than 1%). Almost 8,000 Australians practise Aboriginal traditional religions. Almost 39% of Australians reported having no religion.