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.


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]