Research Launch Event at NSW Parliament House

Tuesday, June 06, 2017
Eliane Miles at the launch with (L to R) Bishop Peter Ingham, Education Minister Rob Stokes, The Hon Paul Green, Shadow Minister Jihad Dib and Murray Norman.

The NSW Government recently released the independent review of Special Religious Education (SRE). In response, McCrindle was commissioned to review the findings and summarise the key data into this SRE in Schools visual summary.

As part of this process, Research Director Eliane Miles was delighted to speak last Tuesday night at NSW Parliament House to launch these findings. The other speakers who addressed the attendees, who included representatives from most of the major providers of SRE across all faiths, were the Education Minister Rob Stokes, Shadow Minister Jihad Dib, and host of the event, The Hon Paul Green MLC.

Eliane Miles

Eliane Miles
Education Minister Rob Stokes
The Hon. Paul Green MP

The Review highlighted how SRE contributes to students’ understanding of their cultural heritage and is an avenue for their spiritual care. Further, it noted that the work of SRE teachers builds tolerance in schools, promotes multiculturalism, contributes to a well-rounded education, and connects schools with their local community.

In addressing the gathering, Mr Stokes, said, “It is wonderful that we have in our schools an understanding that humans are made up of three parts, mind, body and spirit, and we need to provide sustenance to each part of what makes us fully human. SRE has a very important role to fulfil in our schools.”

Mr Dib expressed strong bipartisan support for the value of SRE. Mr Dib said, “[The review] was not at any point in time thinking how to do away with it, but rather, how we actually improve it.” In thanking SRE teachers and providers, Mr Dib went on to articulate the importance of ensuring, “Every single student should have an opportunity – for at least one hour in a week – to reflect about the person that they are and the way that they can actually better themselves.”

Most striking amongst the research presented by Eliane Miles was the levels of satisfaction regarding SRE from schools and parents. The research showed that of the 780,600 students that attend the 2,152 government schools in NSW (with SRE taught in 87% of these schools), 84% of parents are satisfied or mostly satisfied with their student’s learning experiences in SRE and 96% of principals agree or mostly agree that their school has a good working relationship with SRE providers.

Faith and Belief in Australia

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Faith and Belief in Australia Report is being launched today. A survey of 1,024 Australians shows that religion in Australia is not dead. 

Two in three identify with a religion or spirituality
More than two in three Australians (68%) follow a religion or have spiritual beliefs. Of those that do, almost half (47%) remain committed to the religion of their upbringing. The number of Australians who do not identify with a religion or spiritual belief, however, is on the rise with almost one in three (32%) not identifying with a religion. This study replicated the ABS Census question, but added in an option for ‘spiritual but not religious’. This had a response rate of 14% among Australians nationally, and the Christianity grouping was 45% (down from 61% in the 2011 Census).

More than half of Australians (52%) are open to changing their religious views given the right circumstances and evidence. Younger Australians are more open to changing their current religious views than older generations.

Religion and spirituality a popular topic of conversation
When gathering with friends, more than half of Australians (55%) often or occasionally talk about religion or spirituality. Generation Z (65%) are the most comfortable talking the topic, while the Baby Boomers are the least with 51% never talking about it with their friends.

A genuine faith the greatest attraction to a religion or spirituality
Observing people with genuine faith is the greatest attraction to investigating spirituality. Second is experiencing personal trauma or a significant life change. On the inverse, the top repellent to Australians investigating is public figures or celebrities who are examples of that faith. This is followed by miraculous stories of healings or supernatural occurrences.

Perceptions of Christianity 
Australians most value Christian organisations for their work with those in need, specifically looking after people who are homeless, offering financial assistance/food relief programs and providing disaster relief (74%, 72% and 69% respectively).  8% of Australian adults (1.5 million) do not know any Christians, while for Generation Y this is almost one in ten. One in 29 Australians have never heard of Jesus.

Research Launch
The full Faith and Belief in Australia research will be launched on Tuesday 9th May at an event in Sydney (register here) and Wednesday 10th May in Melbourne (register here). 

Download the full report here

Religion, Churchgoing and Easter

Friday, April 14, 2017

Each year Easter provides an opportunity for Australians to not just consume copious amounts of chocolate but also to reflect on the Christian meaning of this national holiday.

The rise of “No religion”

A decade ago, Australians selecting “No religion” in the Census ranked third, at 18.7%, after Catholic (25.8%) and Anglican (18.7%). By 2011, No religion rose by 4.5% points to 22.3%, overtaking Anglican (which had fallen slightly to 17.1%), though still ranked second after Catholic (down to 25.3%).

If this trend has continued, the Census 2016 results (to be released on 27 June) will be the first in Australia’s history to record No religion larger than any other religious grouping.

In the 2011 Census, only three of Australia’s eight states and territories had Catholic as the most dominant religion (NSW, Victoria and Queensland) while for the rest of the country, No religion was the most dominant. Based on the trends over the last decade, it is likely that in the 2016 results NSW will remain the only state or territory where No religion is not the most common worldview.

Christian religion, total: 61%

When all of the Christian denominations are combined, the 2011 Census results record this at 61%, down from 64% in 2006.

Christian, not just spiritual, total: 44%

In our Faith and Belief in Australia study, which will be launched in May, the results show that when Australians are given the option of selecting “spiritual but not any main religion” (an option not available in the Census) the total Christianity numbers drop to 44%.

I consider myself a Christian, total: 38%

When the religious identity question is personalised to the statement “I consider myself a Christian”, 38% of Australians agree.

Regular churchgoer, total: 14.5%

Of Australians who identify their religion as Christianity, 22% attend church weekly, with an additional 11% attending fortnightly or monthly. Regular church attendees, defined as those who attend church at least once per month, comprise in total 14.5% of the adult population.

How many Australians will attend church this Easter?

It is reasonable to predict that most of the quarterly and annual churchgoers will attend church at some point over Easter, along with the regular churchgoers. In total, this is 50% of Australians identifying with the Christian religion- or 22% of all adults. Therefore, Easter church services nationally will see around 3.9 million adults in attendance.

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