The Australian Bureau of Statistics has partially released data from the 2021 census. The data shows that the population of Daylesford and Hepburn (postcodes 3460 and 3461) has increased and become older since the last census in 2016. It also shows that the population of the area has become less religious.

The total population has increased by almost 700 people, an increase of about 10% since the last census. The total population now stands a 7394.

The biggest changes in population demographics have been in the older age groups, particularly in the number of people aged 60 and above. The median age of Daylesford/Hepburn has increased from 51 to 54 compared to the Victorian median age of 38 years. There has been a corresponding drop in the proportion of children and young adults. The graph below shows the change in the population across age groups.

Changes in demographics may have been driven in part by the pandemic. People in more senior and higher paid positions and retirees have been choosing a tree-change lifestyle to get away from lockdowns in metropolitan Melbourne. This influx has driven up property prices and made it increasingly difficult for younger people to afford to buy or rent property in the area. Younger families are moving away which could account for the decrease in the number of young children.

More than half of the local population (54%) identified as having no religious affiliation. In 2016, 46% of the local population indicated that they had no religious affiliation. The Victorian average in the most recent census was 38.8%, The proportion of locals identifying as Catholic fell from 17% to 15%; the number of locals identifying as Anglican fell from 12% to 10%. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reported in 2017 and publicity surrounding the Commission undoubtedly turned many people away from their church.

The data also showed that the level of volunteerism in the community has dropped. In 2016, 24.2% of locals indicated that they had done at least one hour of volunteer work in the past year. In the current census, that proportion had dropped to 18.6%. Pandemic shutdowns affected the operations of many community organisations and this may have been a factor in the decline of volunteerism.

You can view and explore the census data on the ABS website.