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Culture, Society and Religion

Australia - Culture, Society and Religion

Australia has no official religion and there is an atmosphere of religious freedom. People can choose a faith that suits them provided they do not break the law. However, the vast majority of Australian residents have chosen a Christian faith, with more than 60% identifying themselves as Christian. There are very few religions which are not practised in the country at the current time, but for many years the only religions were those practised by the indigenous peoples. It was the settlement by European peoples during the 18th century which began to bring other faiths to the country and there has never been any restriction on the establishment of any church or faith.

The first British settlers brought Anglicanism and other Christian faiths such as Catholicism, Methodism, Lutheran and Baptists to the country. These were followed by non-Christian religions such as Chinese Buddhism, as immigration began from other parts of the world. In 1901 up to 97% of the population was following a Christian religion. As immigration increased after World War Two the number of religions available grew. In recent years the number of people with a non-Christian faith has doubled as immigration has moved away from the European nations and more people from Asia and Africa are choosing to make their home in Australia.

As of the last census the largest religious group was Catholicism with more than a quarter of the population. Anglicans accounted for more than 18% of the population. For non-Christian religions Buddhism accounts for more than 2% of the population, Hinduism for less than 1% and Islam for almost 2%. Less than 100,000 people in Australia practise Judaism. Most faiths establish their own communities and have churches and community centres where the members can meet on a regular basis.

19% of the population has no religion at all and there is no pressure for anybody to have a religion if they do not want to. Attendance at church services for all religions is on the decline a little across the country but this is a trend which is being seen all over the world.

Australia has a very diverse culture and the society is very liberal. The immigration policies have ensured that people of all races and creeds have settled in the country and are able to live side by side quite amicably. Australia has a policy of equality, freedom of speech and democracy, so that no person will feel inferior to another. The country has a classless society, so that there is no aristocracy and while some people are obviously poorer than others, there is no dividing line between a working class and middle class as they are in the UK.

As the majority of people live in the cities the lifestyle is particularly cosmopolitan and most have a laid back attitude to life. Outdoor pursuits are particularly popular and most people practise at least one sport. Australians are seen as being very informal and will speak their minds. They also believe that everybody has a fair chance to succeed, which has helped to make the immigration policy a success. Most Australians are welcoming to others, are outgoing and keep relationships in the work place very informal.

The country has a diverse approach to the arts and many people will go to at least one event each year. Around 70% of the population regularly go to the cinema and more than a quarter will visit art galleries and museums. Nearly 20% will go to the theatre and opera and classical music are popular with many.

Art in Australia is unique and the aboriginal art is becoming popular all over the world. This is in addition to more traditional works by artists such as Sidney Nolan, Margaret Olley and Clifton Pugh. Literature in the country is particularly good and there are several authors that have a global reputation such as Peter Carey, Thomas Keneally and Colleen McCullough.

The outdoor living which is favoured by many Australians means that family gatherings at events such as BBQs are popular. This is something that is increasing in popularity in countries such as the UK and the US. The lifestyle in Australia has been fostered by the warm climate.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.