SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Australia’s official Jewish population has risen by about 10 percent in the last five years to nearly 100,000, according to new census data.
The findings of the 2011 census, released June 22 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showed the Jewish population to be 97,335 — about 0.5 percent of Australia’s total population of 22.5 million.
Jewish demographers, however, have long believed the unofficial number of Jews to be between 10,000 and 20,000 more than the census figure for several reasons: the religion question is the only optional question in the census; the question about religion does not list Judaism, so Jews who want to be counted must check “other”; some Holocaust survivors are believed to be less likely to identify themselves; and some unaffiliated Jewish-born people feel it unnecessary to identify their religion.
Most experts believe the true figure is between 110,000 to 120,000, making Australia the ninth largest Jewish community in the world based on the Hebrew University demographer Sergio DellaPergola’s 2010 world Jewish population report.
DellaPergola listed Australia’s Jewish population in 2010 at just over 107,000.
The estimated 10 percent rise from the 2006 census is an increase on the previous five-year period, which showed growth at 5.4 percent. The Jewish population of Australia in 2006 numbered just under 89,000 Jews.
The census revealed Christianity is the most common religion, with more than 60 percent of Australians identifying; more than 20 percent said “no religion”; and Hinduism is the fastest-growing religion followed by Islam, which numbered more than 475,000 adherents.