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'Time to celebrate': 2021 Census shows more people speaking Hindi, practicing Hinduism in Australia

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Australian census

The Census shows Australia has welcomed more than one million people into Australia since 2017.


Published 28 June 2022 at 3:10pm
By Natasha Kaul
Source: SBS

The 2021 Census, which counted nearly 25.5 million people in Australia, provides insight into cultural diversity, family background and languages spoken at home. The latest figures confirm new Australians are increasingly coming from India, with Hinduism among the fastest growing religions in the country.


Published 28 June 2022 at 3:10pm
By Natasha Kaul
Source: SBS


Released on Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the 2021 Census has revealed increasing diversity in the religions Australians identify with, reflecting continuing changes in social attitudes and belief systems.

The Census shows that Hinduism grew by 55.3 per cent from 440,300 people (2016) to 684,002 people. Almost 2.7 per cent of the Australian population identify as Hindus, up from 1.9 per cent five years earlier. 


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Highlights:

  • The 2021 Census shows a rise in Hinduism and Hindi language
  • Australia welcomed over one million people since 2017 with the largest increase in country of birth outside Australia being India
  • Almost half of Australians have a parent born overseas (48.2 per cent) 

Almost 40 per cent (38.9 per cent) of Australia’s population reported having no religion in the 2021 Census, an increase from 30 per cent (30.1 per cent) in 2016 and 22 per cent (22.3 per cent) in 2011.

The latest Census also found that almost half of Australians have a parent born overseas (48.2 per cent) and the population continues to be drawn from around the globe, with 27.6 per cent reporting a birthplace overseas.

Australian census
The fastest-growing religion, according to the latest census, is Hinduism (2.7 per cent of the population). Source: Getty Images/Deepak Sethi


Since the 2016 Census, more than one million people (1,020,007) arrived in Australia, with the largest increase in country of birth, outside Australia, being India with 220,000 (217,963) additional people counted.

India moved past China and New Zealand to become the third largest country of birth behind Australia and England.



The number of people who use a language other than English at home increased by nearly 800,000 from 2016 to over 5.5 million people (5,663,709).

According to new data, there are over 197,000 Hindi speaking people in the country, an increase from 2016 which recorded 159,652 Hindi speakers.



In New South Wales, the number of Hindi language speakers stood at over 80,000 followed by Victoria (66,930) and Queensland (21,344). 

Members of the Indian diaspora say the number of Hindi speakers and those practicing Hinduism could be even higher.

Mala Mehta, an Order of Australia Medal recipient and President/Honorary Founder of The Indo-Aust Bal Bharathi Vidyalaya (IABBV) Hindi School, says these results should be celebrated by the community.

Mala Mehta
Mala Mehta (OAM) is President/Honorary Founder of Indo-Aust Bal Bharathi Vidyalaya Hindi School (IABBV) in New South Wales. Source: Supplied by Mala Mehta


"I was expecting this growth in Hindi speakers. These statistics are vital for us as it help in getting funds to promote the language," she said, adding that she believes there are actually more Hindi speakers than what has been recorded.

"There are many Indians who know Hindi but speak another Indian language at home. They do not tick Hindi as a language in the census form so I believe this number can go even higher," Ms Mehta said.

Sharing similar thoughts, Adelaide-based Snehal Thaker from the Hindu Council of Australia says there could be more Hindus in Australia if those identifying themselves as Vedic or Philosophical Vedics were taken into account.

Snehal Thaker
Snehal Thaker is based in Adelaide and is associated with Hindu Council of Australia. Source: Supplied by Snehal Thaker


"The number of Hindus is growing and that really is encouraging. And this can help the new migrants coming from India who feel homesick when they arrive here to settle faster," he says.   

Purnendra Jain, Professor of Asian Studies at the Adelaide University, says, "New data reveals that of the one million who arrived in Australia since 2017, over 220,000 are from India. This really is a massive growth." 

Purnendra Jain
Purnendra Jain is a Professor at Department of Asian Studies School of Social Sciences,The University of Adelaide. Source: Supplied by Purnendra Jain


"This census is vital as it helps the government to make their policies accordingly but also it shows the growing influence of a community in forming the government at the election time," Prof Jain said.

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