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Hinduism dominates when it comes to Australia's workforce, but when it comes to female participation in the workforce it's Jewish women that dominate.  

Pallavi Jain
Published on
Tuesday, July 24, 2018 - 16:23
File size
17.28 MB
9 min 26 sec

Hindus have the highest overall workforce participation rate among all religious groups in Australia, according to RMIT-ABC Fact Check.

The RMIT-ABC Fact Check team analysed data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to understand workforce participation rates among religious groups in Australia. According to the ABS, the labour force is comprised of all people aged 15 or above who are either employed (full time or part time) or who are actively looking for employment. The working-age population, however, is defined as people aged between 15-64.

What the fact-checking team calculated was the religion-wise workforce participation rates in percentage terms. This meant calculating the percentage of people in a religious group (or non-religious groups) aged between 15-64 who are in the workforce.

The team calculated workforce participation rates of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews and other religions. An additional category clubbed people with secular beliefs, other spiritual beliefs or no religious affiliation into one group. 

These numbers revealed that Hindus had the highest overall workforce participation rates in percentage terms in Australia. In other words, Hindus overall are the most employed religious community in Australia. 

The figures showed that the overall national workforce participation rate for the working age population in Australia is 76 percent while followers of Hinduism have a workforce participation rate of 81 percent, which is highest among all groups measured. If one looks at the male workforce participation rate for the Australian working age population, it is 81 percent, while for Hindus it is 88 percent.

When it comes to females, the Australian working-age workforce participation rate is 72 percent and Hindu women have the same rate.

While Hindu men have the highest workforce participation rate in percentage terms, Hindu women are marginally behind some other groups at 72 percent. Jewish women have the highest percentage at 75 percent. Females in the category of having secular beliefs, other spiritual beliefs or no religious affiliation were at 74 percent while Christian women were at 73 percent.

RMIT-ABC Fact Check principal researcher, Sushi Das, told SBS Hindi that their research did not delve into why Hindus have the highest overall workforce participation rate but observed skilled migration played a big role. 

"The statistics show that Australia has very high levels of migration from India and China and a lot of those migrants come in on the skilled visa program so many of them would speak English and be educated," Ms Das said. 

"A lot of their [Indian migrants'] education is in English in India as well. I think it is fair to say that the Indian diaspora along with the Chinese diaspora are the two most successful diasporas in the world."

According to the ABS's last census in 2016, 1.9 percent (468, 800) of Australia's resident population was born in India. The number of Hindus in Australia according to the same census is also around 1.9 percent (440,000).

National Executive Committee member and Secretary at the Hindu Council of Australia, Vikas Chopra, agreed. 

"Mostly Hindus who come to Australia are educated and skilled migrants. It is our culture that we give a lot of importance to education and Hindus focus on their kid's education as well so even the second generation is quite educated and employed," Mr Chopra told SBS Hindi. 

"Some people also started their own business and not only did they do well for themselves but also generated employment for the local community. Hindus also attach a lot of importance to ‘karma’. They also believe in the concept of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' - 'the world is a family' and this value has passed on in Hindus, generation after generation. That is why Hindus are able to assimilate in every culture."

Australian Multicultural Council member and a prominent voice in the community, Vasan Srinivasan, credits fluency in English as one of the key reasons for the community's success. 

"First thing we have is the language. Knowing English is the number one factor that removes every obstacle for us to get into the workforce," he said. 

"The second factor is the culture. We were always asked to consider looking after parents and supporting children until they are settled. As a community, we work very hard and we don’t go into the social security queues unless there is a necessity, as we believe that taking from someone to live is beneath our dignity."