What does the data say?

The accompanying chart is interactive. It shows overlaid timeseries from 1901 to our latest 2016 census, of three large, recognisable, and representative examples of the institutional nature of our society here in Australia – Politics, Religion, and Unionism.

The green chart represents our nation’s religiosity - the percentage of all Australians who identify as having a religion. Data records from the ABS show that since 1911 we’ve seen an almost 40 per cent decline in religiosity. Eight of this 40 per cent decline was recorded between 2011-2016, the largest fall between reporting periods on record.

Fun fact: Religious affiliation has been recorded via the census since 1911, however it wasn’t until 1971 that the instructions on the census clearly stated to select ‘no religion’ if the respondents had no religious affiliation. As you can see, it appears this was all the instruction needed, with records reflecting an accelerated 30% decline in religious affiliation since the 70’s.

The orange chart reflects Australia’s Primary Vote cast for any of the major political parties in our federal elections dating back to 1901. The major parties are defined in Table 1. and essentially include all the most voted for parties of their time. As the chart shows, trust in the major parties suffered two major dips during the Great Depression and the Second World War, dropping from almost 100 per cent to lows of 69 per cent and 72 per cent respectively. However, it’s the gradual decline since the late 80’s, not caused by a single large crisis, that’s got our attention here at TDG. Is this a sign of things to come? Will trust in the major political institutions fall much further?