The Jewish population of Australia: Key findings from the 2011 Census

Author: Dr David Graham

2011-census-australia-150The 2011 Census of Australia was conducted on 9th August 2011 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This produced a rich dataset on Australia’s Jewish population, the key results of which are presented here.

WHAT IS A CENSUS AND WHO IS INCLUDED?

Ever since the landing of the First Fleet, ‘musters’ were held to count the number of people in the colony and over the years these evolved into formal censuses, the first of which was the New South Wales census of 1828. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901 the first nation-wide or ‘Commonwealth Census’ took place in 1911; thus, 2011 marks 100 years since the first national census was taken.

The 2011 Census of Population and Housing is a count of all persons who were present in
Australia on the night of 9th August 2011, and also includes information about their  dwellings. It is a legal requirement to complete a census form. According to ABS, “The 2011 Census was the largest logistical peacetime operation ever undertaken in Australia, employing over 43,000 field staff to ensure approximately 14.2 million forms were delivered to 9.8 million households.” In 2011, one third of all households submitted their forms online via eCensus.

Census data on religion were collected for all household members with the question, What is this person’s religion? and unlike other census questions, it was voluntary. ‘Judaism’ was listed as one of four examples of write-in options for ‘Other’ religious groups but it was not
listed as one of the checkbox categories. No guidance was given as to how the wording of the question ought to be interpreted; it made no direct reference to belief, institutional membership or other types of religious affiliation. The religion question immediately followed questions on language and ancestry.

View the report: The Jewish population of Australia: Key findings from the 2011 Census [PDF 2.4MB]

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  • The Jewish population of New South Wales: Key findings from the 2011 Census

    Author: Dr David Graham The 2011 Census of Australia was conducted on 9th August 2011…

  • Education: a statistical analysis

    The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

  • Poverty & Emergency Relief

    This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

  • The New Zealand Jewish Community

    In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

  • Antisemitism

    Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before.

  • Older Jewish Australians

    When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population?

  • Jewish Continuity

    The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

  • Gen08 Preliminary Findings

    The key points to emerge from this survey

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.

The Jewish population of Victoria: Key findings from the 2011 Census

Author: Professor Andrew Markus

2011-census-vic-150The Australian census is conducted every five years by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.  The 2011 census was conducted on the evening of 9 August 2011 and covered almost ten million households. It provides the most detailed demographic data on ethno-religious groups in Australia.

There is, however, a problem with using the census for identification of a religious or ethnic population such as the Jewish. The census includes a question asking respondents to indicate the religion of each person in the household, but the question is optional and in 2011 was not answered by 8.3% of Victorians. In addition, 24% of Victorians indicated that they have ‘no religion’. It is known that some who regard themselves as culturally Jewish but are not religious include themselves in this category, but their number cannot be established with precision.

There is an additional census question which asks respondents to identify their ancestry and potentially provides the means for identifying those who are Jewish but not religious, but there is no consistent way that this question is answered: some respondents indicate that they are Jewish when asked for their ancestry, but the majority indicate a country or region. In the 2011 census, 45,149 Victorians (0.84% of the Victorian population) indicated that they were of the Jewish religion; of this number, less than one quarter, 10,157, also indicated that their ancestry was Jewish, with a range of other responses, including 9,681 who gave their ancestry as Australian, 7,554 as Polish, 5,373 as English, 4,654 as Russian, while 1,032 simply answered ‘European’.

The challenge for demographers is to estimate the actual Jewish population on the basis of the incomplete enumeration provided by the census.

View the report: The Jewish population of Victoria: Key findings from the 2011 Census [PDF 2.7MB]

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  • The Jewish population of Australia: Key findings from the 2011 Census

    Author: Dr David Graham The 2011 Census of Australia was conducted on 9th August 2011…

  • The Jewish population of New South Wales: Key findings from the 2011 Census

    Author: Dr David Graham The 2011 Census of Australia was conducted on 9th August 2011…

  • Education: a statistical analysis

    The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

  • Poverty & Emergency Relief

    This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

  • The New Zealand Jewish Community

    In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

  • Antisemitism

    Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before.

  • Older Jewish Australians

    When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population?

  • Jewish Continuity

    The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

  • Gen08 Preliminary Findings

    The key points to emerge from this survey

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.

The Jewish population of New South Wales: Key findings from the 2011 Census

Author: Dr David Graham

2011-census-nsw-150The 2011 Census of Australia was conducted on 9th August 2011 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This produced a rich dataset on the NSW Jewish population, the key results of which are presented here.

WHAT IS A CENSUS AND WHO IS INCLUDED?

Ever since the landing of the First Fleet, ‘musters’ were held to count the number of people in the colony and over the years these evolved into formal censuses, the first of which was the New South Wales census of 1828. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901 the first nation-wide or ‘Commonwealth Census’ took place in 1911; thus, 2011 marks 100 years since the first national census was taken.

The 2011 Census of Population and Housing is a count of all persons who were present in
Australia on the night of 9th August 2011, and also includes information about their  dwellings. It is a legal requirement to complete a census form. According to ABS, “The 2011 Census was the largest logistical peacetime operation ever undertaken in Australia, employing over 43,000 field staff to ensure approximately 14.2 million forms were delivered to 9.8 million households.” In 2011, one third of all households submitted their forms online via eCensus.

Census data on religion were collected for all household members with the question, What is this person’s religion? and unlike other census questions, it was voluntary. ‘Judaism’ was listed as one of four examples of write-in options for ‘Other’ religious groups but it was not
listed as one of the checkbox categories. No guidance was given as to how the wording of the question ought to be interpreted; it made no direct reference to belief, institutional membership or other types of religious affiliation. The religion question immediately followed questions on language and ancestry.

View the report: The Jewish population of New Sourth Wales: Key findings from the 2011 Census [PDF 4.7MB]

More News

  • The Jewish population of Australia: Key findings from the 2011 Census

    Author: Dr David Graham The 2011 Census of Australia was conducted on 9th August 2011…

  • The Jewish population of Victoria: Key findings from the 2011 Census

    Author: Professor Andrew Markus The Australian census is conducted every five years by the Australian…

  • Education: a statistical analysis

    The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

  • Poverty & Emergency Relief

    This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

  • The New Zealand Jewish Community

    In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

  • Antisemitism

    Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before.

  • Older Jewish Australians

    When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population?

  • Jewish Continuity

    The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

  • Gen08 Preliminary Findings

    The key points to emerge from this survey

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.

Education: a statistical analysis

Author: David Graham

The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

One of the key drivers for this very high level of penetration is the belief of many Jewish parents that Jewish day schooling strengthens Jewish identity.

Indeed, respondents ranked this benefit “by a large margin” above all other potential benefits and advantages of Jewish day schooling (Markus et al., 2009: 18).

In light of this finding and the high financial cost of Australian Jewish day schooling, this report empirically addresses an important, but deceptively simple, question: What is the contribution of Australian Jewish day school education to Jewish identity outcomes in adulthood?

More News

  • Poverty & Emergency Relief

    This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

  • The New Zealand Jewish Community

    In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

  • Antisemitism

    Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before.

  • Older Jewish Australians

    When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population?

  • Jewish Continuity

    The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

  • Gen08 Preliminary Findings

    The key points to emerge from this survey

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.

Home – introduction

The Australian Jewish Population Study was established in 2007 through a partnership between Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation and Jewish Care Victoria. (Find out more about the Project Supporters)

The data sources for the project include the Australian Census, the Gen08 survey completed by over 6,000 respondents, focus groups, and consultation with organisational leaders.

Its objective is to further understanding of the demographic characteristics of the Jewish population and of constant and changing patterns within the Jewish communities of Australia, to provide the knowledge base to inform communal planning.

Find Out More:

Project Supporters

The establishment of this project was made possible by the support of the Australian Research Council under its Linkage Grants program and by the Industry Partner, Jewish Care Victoria.

Support has been provided by :

  • Jewish Care Victoria
  • the Pratt Foundation
  • the Gandel Charitable Trust
  • the Besen Family Foundation
  • the Trawalla Foundation
  • JCA Planning (Sydney)
  • Lorraine Topol and the Benjamin Slome Charitable Foundation
  • the Dina and Ron Goldschlager Family
  • the Ricci Swart Famil
  • the National Council of Jewish Women.

The project’s implementation in New South Wales was made possible by the support of JCA (Jewish Communal Appeal) Planning. Extension of the project to New Zealand was facilitated by B’nai B’rith Auckland.

This project has involved extensive commitment of time on a voluntary basis by a large number of people in Australia and New Zealand, as acknowledged in the individual reports accessible on this site.

Poverty & Emergency Relief

Authors: Andrew Markus, Miriam Munz

This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

More News

  • Education: a statistical analysis

    The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

  • The New Zealand Jewish Community

    In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

  • Antisemitism

    Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before.

  • Older Jewish Australians

    When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population?

  • Jewish Continuity

    The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

  • Gen08 Preliminary Findings

    The key points to emerge from this survey

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.

The New Zealand Jewish Community

In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

The project enjoyed the support of the Boards of all the Jewish congregations throughout New Zealand. In addition, most organization and nonaffiliated groups, which represented the New Zealand Jewish population, contributed.

The objective of the survey is to establish a better understanding of the views and needs of Jews in Australia and New Zealand, including:

  • the experience of Jewish (and non-Jewish) education; the constant and changing elements in Jewish identity;
  • the views of Jewish communities on the issues they see as of greatest priority;
  • the views of Jewish communities on the services provided by communal organizations;
  • the views of Jewish communities on areas of need in the community;
  • the challenges facing families, and Jewish youth; the outlook for the future.

The material published here will provide information for better planning, funding and resourcing as well as help New Zealand Jewish communities to understand the specific challenges we face for the future. It is vital research for Jewish continuity. There is slight variation in totals because not all questions were answered by all the respondents.

More News

  • Education: a statistical analysis

    The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

  • Poverty & Emergency Relief

    This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

  • Antisemitism

    Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before.

  • Older Jewish Australians

    When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population?

  • Jewish Continuity

    The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

  • Gen08 Preliminary Findings

    The key points to emerge from this survey

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.

Antisemitism

Authors: Jessica Taft, Andrew Markus

Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before. 

Jeremy Jones AM, past-President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, has for the past twenty years collected, classified and recorded incidents of antisemitic violence, vandalism and verbal abuse that are reported to him by individuals and Jewish organisations.

Much of the knowledge of antisemitic incidents in Australia derives from his work, although there has also been a substantial investment in data collection by the Anti-Defamation Commission in Melbourne. 

Based on their interpretation of the Jones reports, the Jewish media has presented a picture of a sharp and worrying rise in the level of antisemitic activity in Australia. But is this impression accurate? 

 

More News

  • Education: a statistical analysis

    The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

  • Poverty & Emergency Relief

    This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

  • The New Zealand Jewish Community

    In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

  • Older Jewish Australians

    When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population?

  • Jewish Continuity

    The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

  • Gen08 Preliminary Findings

    The key points to emerge from this survey

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.

Older Jewish Australians

Authors: Andrew Markus, Anita Frayman, Tanya Munz, Bill Appleby, Ralph Hampson

 Knowledge is an expensive investment – ignorance is unaffordable. 

When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population? 

From a service planning perspective, what is significant about this report is that it allows us to understand how the current cohort of older Jewish people differs from previous generations and importantly how they differ from older people in the total Australian population. 

View the Older Jewish Australians report:

More News

  • Education: a statistical analysis

    The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

  • Poverty & Emergency Relief

    This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

  • The New Zealand Jewish Community

    In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

  • Antisemitism

    Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before.

  • Jewish Continuity

    The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

  • Gen08 Preliminary Findings

    The key points to emerge from this survey

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.

Jewish Continuity

Principal Author: Andrew Markus

Contributors: John  Goldlust, Nicky Jacobs, Timnah Baker, Tanya Munz, Amanda Goodman, David Graham

Today Australia’s Jewish communities, like other Diaspora communities, face significant midterm risks to continuity. Jewish Australians have a proud record of achievement, both in their contribution to Australian society and in their ability to nurture a thriving and diverse communal life.

However, the current balance in resource allocation – the mix of institutions and programs – is unlikely to be the most effective in meeting emerging challenges.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

View the Jewish Continuity report

More News

  • Education: a statistical analysis

    The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

  • Poverty & Emergency Relief

    This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

  • The New Zealand Jewish Community

    In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

  • Antisemitism

    Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before.

  • Older Jewish Australians

    When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population?

  • Gen08 Preliminary Findings

    The key points to emerge from this survey

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.

Gen08 Preliminary Findings

The key points to emerge from this survey are:

  • There is a very strong sense of Jewish identification; depending on definition, between 80% and 90% of respondents see their ‘Jewishness’ as an important or defining characteristic of their lives.
     
  • A distinguishing characteristic of Jews in Australia is the connectedness of families. Over 70% of respondents indicated that they spent Friday evening Sabbath with their family every week or most weeks.
     
  •  Support for Israel unifies the Jewish community. There is evidence of division of opinion in response to many issues, but much of the difference disappears when Israel is considered; close to 80% of respondents indicated that they regarded themselves as Zionist, while only 13% did not. There are, however, a wide range of views on the policy to be followed in pursuit of peace with Palestinians.

View the report: Gen08 Preliminary Findings [PDF, 737kB]

More News

  • Education: a statistical analysis

    The largest survey ever carried out among the Australian Jewish community, GEN08, found that about 70% of Australian-­‐born Jewish adults aged under 35 had attended a Jewish day school for at least part of their education.

  • Poverty & Emergency Relief

    This report focuses on poverty in the Jewish population of Melbourne, with comparative reference to the Jewish population of Sydney.

  • The New Zealand Jewish Community

    In 2008, B’nai B’rith Auckland, in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, conducted a survey of the New Zealand and Australian Jewish communities.

  • Antisemitism

    Antisemitism is an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia – as it has been since 1945, and before.

  • Older Jewish Australians

    When considering a report such as this, the inclination is to ask – so what? What does all this data really tell me about service provision over the next twenty years for an ageing Australian Jewish population?

  • Jewish Continuity

    The purpose of this study is to evaluate evidence bearing on future Jewish life in Australia, with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney communities.

  • 2006 Victorian Census – Key Findings

    The census provides the most detailed demographic data on religious groups in Australia, but the data are not comprehensive because the key identifier, stated religion, is an optional census question and is not completed by a large number of people.