a multicultural History of Australia

Making multicultural Australia

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Period: This Generation »


Commentary on: Religious diversity in Victoria »

Prof Andrew Jakubowicz.

Text Commentary

(Audio file available at a later date)

Australia is a secular society that separates church and state. It also protects the rights of people to religious freedom. A wide range of faiths are practiced by Victorians and people of diverse religious backgrounds live alongside each other in Victoria today. Despite this diversity, there have been comparatively lower levels of conflict in the community compared to elsewhere in the country.

The majority of the population in Victoria identify as Christians. In the 2006 Census, the most common responses for religious affiliation for persons usually resident in Victoria (Australia) were Catholic 27.5% (25.8%), no religion 20.4% (18.7%), Anglican 13.6% (18.7%), Uniting Church 5.6% (5.7%) and Eastern Orthodox 4.5%.

Religious diversity has become a central concern of multicultural debates, exploring the relation between religious belief and politics, and on the role of religion in a secular society. Multi-faith dialogues, especially between the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have been used in Victoria in order to open up communication between different communities, challenge prejudices and antipathies, and foster a unified commitment to cultural and religious diversity and social cohesion.

In an increasingly culturally and religiously diverse environment, government schools, which are secular, are exploring new ways of educating all students about belief systems.