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This topic has been updated with 2016 Census data for all areas. What's this?

In New South Wales, the number of non religious persons experienced the greatest change (+658,360) compared to Christians and non Christians in 2016.

New South Wales's religion statistics provide an indicator of cultural identity and ethnicity when observed in conjunction with other key variables. Religion data reveal the major concentrations of religions as well as revealing the proportion of people with no religious affiliation. There are a number of reasons for different religious compositions across areas including the country of birth and ethnic background of the population, the age of the population (belief in religion is generally stronger, the older the population) and changes in values and belief systems.

New South Wales's religion statistics should be analysed in conjunction with other ethnicity statistics such as Country of Birth data and Language Spoken data to assist in identifying specific cultural and ethnic groups.

Please note: Due to changes in ABS rules around perturbation and additivity of data to protect the confidentiality of individuals in 2016, counts of individual religion groups and totals derived from them may differ slightly from those published by the ABS. For more information see notes on data confidentiality.

Derived from the Census question:

'What is the person's religion?'

Total population

Religion - Ranked by size
New South Wales - Total persons (Usual residence)20162011Change
ReligionNumber%Australia %Number%Australia %2011 to 2016
Western (Roman) Catholic1,801,76824.122.31,869,49927.025.1-67,731
Anglican1,161,81015.513.31,378,37319.917.1-216,563
Islam267,6593.62.6219,3533.22.2+48,306
Uniting Church217,2582.93.7271,0993.95.0-53,841
Buddhism207,9562.82.4201,0532.92.5+6,903
Presbyterian and Reformed188,3302.52.3211,9593.12.8-23,629
Hinduism181,4022.41.9119,8431.71.3+61,559
Christian,nfd165,3512.22.6123,7771.82.2+41,574
Greek Orthodox128,5441.71.6131,5871.91.8-3,043
Baptist94,6471.31.599,9061.41.6-5,259
Pentecostal77,4021.01.171,4611.01.1+5,941
Judaism36,9010.50.439,6690.60.5-2,768
Maronite Catholic33,0150.40.226,7330.40.1+6,282
Other Protestant32,4120.40.518,6020.30.3+13,810
Sikhism31,7370.40.521,7480.30.3+9,989
Macedonian Orthodox23,6650.30.223,4910.30.2+174
Jehova's Witnesses22,7230.30.423,9170.30.4-1,194
Seventh Day Adventist22,6590.30.323,4440.30.3-785
Lutheran20,4500.30.733,0980.51.2-12,648
Serbian Orthodox17,8100.20.217,6880.30.2+122
Coptic Orthodox17,0580.20.115,1250.20.1+1,933
Latter Day Saints (Mormons)16,4300.20.316,4030.20.3+27
Salvation Army15,2190.20.218,9760.30.3-3,757
Other Non-Christian Religions14,0860.20.110,7600.20.1+3,326
Other Eastern Catholic11,6590.20.16,1470.10.1+5,512
Assyrian Apostolic10,9640.10.18,7190.10.0+2,245
Russian Orthodox9,2740.10.19,5380.10.1-264
Other Eastern Orthodox9,1500.10.129,3560.40.3-20,206
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Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2011 and 2016. Compiled and presented by .id , the population experts.

Excludes religions with fewer than 20 adherents, or less than 0.1% of the total population.

Religion - Summary
New South Wales - Total persons (Usual residence)20162011Change
Religion totalsNumber%Australia %Number%Australia %2011 to 2016
Christian total4,127,78355.252.14,462,16364.561.1-334,380
Non Christian total757,99010.18.2632,6509.17.2+125,340
Non-classifiable religious belief38,7990.50.647,7910.70.8-8,992
No religion1,898,89925.429.91,240,53917.922.3+658,360
Not stated656,7608.89.1534,4727.78.6+122,288

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2011 and 2016. Compiled and presented by .id , the population experts.

Religion, 2016
Religion, 2016 Western (Roman) Catholic, Australia: 22.3% Anglican, Australia: 13.3% Islam, Australia: 2.6% Uniting Church, Australia: 3.7% Buddhism, Australia: 2.4% Presbyterian and Reformed, Australia: 2.3% Hinduism, Australia: 1.9% Christian,nfd, Australia: 2.6% Greek Orthodox, Australia: 1.6% Baptist, Australia: 1.5% Western (Roman) Catholic, New South Wales: 24.1% Anglican, New South Wales: 15.5% Islam, New South Wales: 3.6% Uniting Church, New South Wales: 2.9% Buddhism, New South Wales: 2.8% Presbyterian and Reformed, New South Wales: 2.5% Hinduism, New South Wales: 2.4% Christian,nfd, New South Wales: 2.2% Greek Orthodox, New South Wales: 1.7% Baptist, New South Wales: 1.3%
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 2016 (Usual residence data)
Compiled and presented in profile.id by .id, the population experts.
Change in religion, 2011 to 2016
Change in religion, 2011 to 2016 Western (Roman) Catholic, New South Wales: -67,731 Anglican, New South Wales: -216,563 Islam, New South Wales: +48,306 Uniting Church, New South Wales: -53,841 Buddhism, New South Wales: +6,903 Presbyterian and Reformed, New South Wales: -23,629 Hinduism, New South Wales: +61,559 Christian,nfd, New South Wales: +41,574 Greek Orthodox, New South Wales: -3,043 Baptist, New South Wales: -5,259
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 2011 and 2016 (Usual residence data)
Compiled and presented in profile.id by .id, the population experts.

Dominant groups

Analysis of the religious affiliation of the population of New South Wales in 2016 compared to Australia shows that there was a higher proportion of people who professed a religion and a lower proportion who stated they had no religion.

Overall, 65.3% of the population nominated a religion, and 25.4% said they had no religion, compared with 60.4% and 29.9% respectively for Australia.

The largest single religion in New South Wales was Western (Roman) Catholic, with 24.1% of the population or 1,801,768 people as adherents.

The major differences between the religious affiliation for the population of New South Wales and Australia were:

  • A larger percentage who nominated Anglican (15.5% compared to 13.3%)
  • A larger percentage who nominated Western (Roman) Catholic (24.1% compared to 22.3%)

Emerging groups

The largest changes in the religious affiliation of the population in New South Wales between 2011 and 2016 were for those who nominated:

  • Anglican (-216,563 persons)
  • Western (Roman) Catholic (-67,731 persons)
  • Hinduism (+61,559 persons)
  • Uniting Church (-53,841 persons)
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