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Profiles provide tool for parishes


Profiles of 1230 Catholic parishes across Australia have been published, offering a wealth of insights that can be used to better serve the needs of local communities.

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Compiled by the National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR), the social profiles draw on data captured in the 2021 Australian Census and examine the Catholic and local population within parish boundaries.

Chair of the Australian Catholic Council for Pastoral Research Prof Gabrielle McMullen said the profiles would be a valuable tool to help parishes understand their local communities.

“It is important that parish leaders have the latest information, so they can assess the pastoral needs of people and then plan the best way to meet those needs,” she said.

The data also enables comparisons and trends across Australia to be drawn, with the data revealing there were 67 fewer parishes in 2021, compared to 2016, and just over
100 parishes were involved in significant geographical changes to their parish boundaries.

In 2021 the parish of Santa Teresa (Darwin) had the highest percentage of Catholics at 83 per cent.

The parish of Victor Harbor/Goolwa in the Adelaide Archdiocese had the oldest Catholic population, with a median age of 65, compared to the national Catholic median age of 43. Palm Island parish (Townsville) had the youngest median age of Catholics at 24.

Of Catholics born in non-English speaking countries, the Sydney parish of Fairfield continued to have the highest proportion of Catholics (69 per cent), as it did for the 2016 Census.

NCPR director Trudy Dantis said the reports provide statistics on a range of demographic measures, including age, sex and country of birth, that present the evolving nature of Catholic parishes.

“They also contain important information on the language people speak at home, the makeup of their families and households, their income levels, occupation, and employment status,” she said.

“Data on educational background and attendance at educational institutions are also included.”

Where possible, the statistics in the 2021 parish profiles have been compared with the 2016 data.

Adelaide Archdiocese Pastoral Life and Mission director Sarah Moffatt encouraged parishes to download them and spend time exploring them in the context of their own pastoral plan.

Rockhampton Bishop Michael McCarthy, the Bishop Delegate for Pastoral Research, said he values the insights that the reports offer.

“Each parish should have three things – its own vision or aspiration, an understanding of what sort of people make up its local Catholic and general community and an awareness of the resources and gifts available to the parish to realise the vision,” Bishop McCarthy said.

“The social profiles provided in these reports will empower parishes using pastoral planning to move into the future with hope and confidence, ready to do the work of Jesus Christ as the people of God on mission.”

The parish profiles complete the NCPR’s major reports on the 2021 Census data, following earlier reports on the Church nationally and at the diocesan level.

The reports are available at


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