One of the most helpful things for a local church contemplating how to join with God in mission within the local setting, is to put together a statistical profile of their local community.
This helps us by making clear just who lives within our neighbourhoods, how the neighbourhood is travelling in terms of employment, multiculturalism, education and a host more aspects.
Here are four straightforward ways to assemble this kind of data.
National Church Life Survey “Community Social Profile”
The first is to contact the National Church Life Survey. NCLS are best known for conducting a “census” of congregational data every five years, but also prepare a host of other resources useful for local church congregations. In particular, NCLS offers local churches the Community Social Profile, a well put-together package of information outlining the demographic make-up of their local community and some tools for using the information to help kick-start congregational mission engagement. For a relatively small price, it’s excellent information.
Qld Government Statistician
The Queensland government’s own statistical office produce a huge amount of data. Hit their website for the full range. One of the particularly useful options is the capacity to review population and demographic data in thematic maps. You can visually present a host of data and quickly spot patterns across regional areas. Try it for yourself.
profile.id and atlas.id
.id are a demographic research organisation, most often working on behalf of local governments. They don’t have full coverage in Australia (in fact at the time of writing only Cairns and Rockhampton have up to date data within Queensland), but the profiles are well prepared and thoroughly worthwhile if you happen to find your community. Community coverage isn’t flexible, so it’s local government areas only. Check out the community profiles or the social atlas (map-based demographic data presentation) for more. If economic data is important, there’s also the economy.id profiles. Check back occasionally to see if your community has been added to the available list.
Accessing ABS Census Data
For those who like to get their hands dirty, the third (and most detailed) option is to dive into the treasure trove of information freely available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
ABS publish a mountain of data including highly detailed information drawn directly from the national census program. You can sign up for free access and go as deep as you like, building custom reports for your local area, combining fields from the whole range of census data. To do that, head over to the ABS Table Builder page here.
Simpler though, and definitely detailed enough for most needs, is to generate a ‘National Regional Profile’ from the 2011 census data. Click through for a brief summary of how to produce a regional profile, including some screen shots of this relatively simple (and totally free) process. Enjoy! Continue reading