WHAT does the 2011 census reveal about Ballarat?
Probably a great deal that already is expected – that our population is growing, that family structures continue to change and evolve and that we are getting older.
While many will see the census as just another set of numbers, it’s these figures which set a framework for the future direction of our city.
On initial investigation, governments will have to invest more in social services. Health care, aged care and family support – all areas which are already a considerable focus – will require continuing investment.
The population statistics require further investigation. Despite predictions suggesting Ballarat was hurtling towards a population of 100,000, the census records just 93,000 people as living in our city. This significant discrepancy requires an explanation. This said, population growth remains strong and justifies the increased focus on job creation and investment in infrastructure.
As much as our city changes, much remains the same.
The same can’t be said for our national landscape.
The resources boom has changed the face of Australia with Queensland and Western Australia experiencing a population boom. Nine out of 10 of the biggest increases in local government areas were in rural Western Australia.
These figures frank what we know about the seismic shift in employment and growth in our nation being centred on the resources boom.
Some of the most interesting states tell us how our nation is maturing – median weekly household income rose to $1234 in 2011, up from $1027 in 2006 while median household mortgage repayments climbed $500 to $1800 a month.
While the majority of migration is still coming from Europe, there are increasingly more residents who were born in Asian countries. India doubled as a source of migration while Chinese-born migrants rose 54 per cent. The lack of multicultural groups in Ballarat remains stark, despite increases in migrant numbers since the last census.
More Australians no longer have a religious affiliation – up to 22.3 per cent from 18.7 per cent – but Christianity remains the most commonly reported religion, at 61.1 per cent of the population.
In Ballarat, people who identify as Catholic has increased, a sign that despite a difficult era for the church, faith remains strong.