The Other Four Questions – A Census Update

October 24, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
Read on for article

The 9th of August 2016. Why was this night different from all other nights? You knew it was coming. You may have even tried your best to avoid it.

But the 2016 Census came and… sank. The website crashed on the night following a ‘denial of service’ attack and was taken down for over forty hours.

But the census is a survey which garners data like no other. Run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it collects a breadth of information on a wide range of subjects which assists Government in strategic and fiscal planning. So what is its worth to the Jewish Community? It’s priceless or as Dr David Graham, JCA’s demographer, describes it, “It’s a gift”.

Census data provides a baseline measure of our community. It establishes better than anything else where we live, what type of jobs we have, how many children we have, what care we provide or need and how we sit in the broader Australian demographic. It gives us “secular data” which is broad but immensely useful. Why then do we need a survey like Gen17? Gen17 you will remember was a national study carried out by JCA and Monash University and obtained response from 8,600 Jewish people in Australia. Whilst the census gives us broad information on how we’re living as Australians, Gen17 gives us the depth to understand which way we’re living as Jews. No matter your level of Jewishness, both census and Gen17-type surveys are of the utmost importance, for communal strategy, to ensure all levels of needs and choice are taken into consideration when planning for our diverse community.

After two years of work and analysis, this week Dr David Graham and JCA launched the key findings of the 2016 Census. Following an independent review , the census information was ultimately declared fit-for-purpose. Whilst numbers first appeared low for our community, a contraction of 6.5% since 2011, after several months of research, It was demonstrated that the community far from declining, has in fact experienced modest growth. But what caused the ABS to publish a Jewish population decline? 2016 was a unique year. Firstly, the question on religion had been redesigned so that the first box, rather than the last box, was the “no religion” option. Secondly, with heightened global security challenges in Jewish communities combined with privacy concerns, it seems that more of us were less inclined to write that we were Jewish.

Many communal organisations use census data to plan and so the findings are pivotal in working towards a sustainable Jewish future – which is exactly why JCA views this as a critical project to fund. Respondents to surveys give communal organisations focus, to meet real needs. Without communal collaboration and organisational input, meaningful outcomes of Census 2016 would not be achievable, so a thank you to all across Australia who contributed. For those who didn’t partake in one or either of the surveys don’t pass over the opportunity to take part in future surveys – your responses matter.

The 2016 Census ultimately revealed that we have continued to grow, assessed by Jewish births exceeding Jewish deaths, as well as immigration remaining, albeit at a lower level than previous census recordings. We also note that there are now more Jewish people speaking Hebrew in the home, than Russian, a result of the growth in migration from Israel. To see a comprehensive report on the adjusted Census 2016 data for the Australian Jewish Community visit JCAs website publications page at www.jca.org.au/publication/

Report from: Shari Lowe and Dr David Graham

Comments

7 Responses to “The Other Four Questions – A Census Update”
  1. Michael Barnett says:

    Question 19 on the 2016 Census was “What is the person’s religion?”

    If it has been reasonably determined that the total number of people in the Jewish community has not decreased, then a reduced count for Judaism on the Census simply means there are more Jews who identify with “No religion” than before.

    The question is about religion. It’s not about which religious/faith/cultural community you identify with.

    It’s not really that complicated.

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    …… “But what caused the ABS to publish a Jewish population decline? 2016 was a unique year. Firstly, the question on religion had been redesigned so that the first box, rather than the last box, was the “no religion” option. Secondly, with heightened global security challenges in Jewish communities combined with privacy concerns, it seems that more of us were less inclined to write that we were Jewish”….

    Bringing to mind the last census…..and the same fears.
    At least I now understand why.
    http://www.jwire.com.au/ecaj-leader-urges-community-identify-jews/

  3. Adrian Jackson says:

    Census day is also on my birthday 09 August. Census staff suggest I use the online system but I said I wanted a paper census form so no problem with the computer crashing for me. A computer will always crash when millions of Australian are trying to do the census in one day, and most likely after work in the evening. I suggest we all use the paper copy in future.

  4. Adrian Jackson says:

    I suggested to the ABS way back then that the No Religion box should be first as it is the most numerous response in the recent past and growing every census. Perhaps they listened to me and perhaps others with a similar view as mine.

    • Michael Barnett says:

      There was a huge campaign from secularist, rationalist, atheist and other liked-minded communities to have the No Religion box elevated to the top. It was very sensible of the ABS to do it.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published


    Rules on posting comments