The traditional viewpoint of what exactly is an Australian seems to have shifted significantly in recent decades. A look at the 2011 census data for Australia shows many interesting statistics.
For instance, did you know that almost one in three (30.2 per cent) of Australians were not born in Australia? Our multicultural society is made up of many different nationalities, with no country besides Australia making up more than 5 per cent (England came in second at 4.2 per cent).
This figure is particularly interesting, and looking deeper into this theme the census shows that more than one in five (22 per cent) residents do not speak English at home. Demographer Bernard Salt shows that in Australia over 400 languages are spoken domestically at home. This includes more than 250 speakers of Latin (as in the language of Caesar, NOT Latino), a further 121 who speak what the Australian Bureau of Statistics defines as an ‘invented language’ and 8,400 who use sign language.
The second-most commonly spoken language in Australia is Chinese, which includes the Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka and Wu dialects, and collectively number 635,000, easily surpassing third place Indian, with 398,000. However, between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, the number of residents who spoke an Indian language jumped by 198,000 (99 per cent) whereas the number who spoke a Chinese language increased by 149,000 (31 per cent).
Concerns have sprung up that Australia is losing its English-speaking culture, however, the data disproves this; the proportion of residents speaking a language other than English at home did not alter between the censuses, and the percentage of Australians not born in Australia increased by just 0.9 per cent.
Australia has always been a multicultural country, and immigration will continue to play a major part in our population growth into the future.