Monday, June 25, 2012
You see it every day on the streets, but the 2011 census has confirmed that Melbourne has become a different city different not only from what it used to be, but from the way the rest of Australia still is.
The census results show that more than just the ethnic make-up has changed. Migration has reinforced the city's traditional values, because the newcomers tend to be socially more conservative than those born here.
First, Melbourne has become much better educated: the census found 72 per cent of adult residents have completed year 11 at least, compared to just 60 per cent in the rest of Australia. The city has 18.6 per cent of Australia's population, yet almost a quarter of Australia's full-time university and TAFE students study here.
Second, Melbourne is relatively young. In the rest of Australia, the census found only 34 per cent of people are aged 20 to 44, with 40 per cent aged 45 and over. In Melbourne, by contrast, 38 per cent of people are aged 20 to 44, with just 37 per cent in the older group.
Third, despite what many would expect, Melbourne now leans to traditional family values. More residents over 25 are married here than in the rest of Australia. Fewer Melbourne people live in de facto relationships than elsewhere especially among under 25s.
That reflects the impact of the 433,628 immigrants who have settled in Melbourne in the past decade or so. One in four migrants makes Melbourne their home and they bring with them their homeland's values.
For example, the census found Melbourne has fewer divorces and marital breakups than the rest of Australia. Only 12.2 per cent of people over 25 in Melbourne were divorced or separated, but 13.7 per cent in the rest of Australia were.
Melbourne also has a higher rate of home ownership and, relative to housing prices, lower household debt. The census found the median weekly household income was almost $100 or 8 per cent higher than in the rest of Australia, but the median mortgage payment was virtually identical: $1810 a month in Melbourne, $1800 nationally.
While home ownership rates have fallen everywhere, 71 per cent of homes in Melbourne are owner-occupied, with just 28 per cent rented. In the rest of Australia, occupants own 68 percent and landlords 31 per cent. We re also cosier here. Melbourne
has more mediumdensity housing than average and slightly fewer children, and
45 per cent of homes have three or more occupants, compared to 41 per cent elsewhere.
But immigration has also brought diversity, especially in religion. Once, Melbourne was a
stronghold of Anglicans and Protestants. Now their numbers are fast-dwindling, as other religions advance.
The census found 35.4 per cent of people elsewhere in Australia are Protestants, but just 22.4 per cent in Melbourne. Only 10.8 per cent ofMelbourne people now identify as Anglicans, compared to 18.6 per cent in the rest of the country.
By contrast, Melbourne has more than its share of Catholics (27.2 per cent) and twice as
many Orthodox (5.8 per cent) as elsewhere. Almost half of all Australians who follow Judaism live here. And immigration has given it roughly 30 per cent of the nation s Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus.