IT’S official: the Wellington Shire has experienced a six per cent growth in population, as confirmed by the 2021 Census.

The news was revealed in data made public by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday morning.

According to the 2021 figures, the shire’s population now stands at 45,639 people.

This represents an increase of 6.2 per cent when compared to the 2016 Census.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye said the steady population growth seen in Wellington Shire is not unexpected.

“Over the past couple of years through the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve seen a shift in population with more and more people wanting to move into regional areas, and Wellington is no exception,” Cr Bye said.

Wellington Shire is not the only area to experience growth – Australia as a whole saw an 8.6 per cent increase in its overall population in the same five-year period, with 25,766,605 people.

In addition to providing data about population, the Census also provided insights into the key demographics and sectors within the community.

50.4 per cent of residents identify as men, making them the dominant gender within Wellington Shire.

This goes against the national average, with 50.7 per cent of Australians identifying as women.

But there is some consolation – the split between men and women in the shire has narrowed by 0.1 per cent.

The number of residents in the area identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander has also grown, with the figures now standing at two per cent – up from 1.5 per cent in 2016.

The median age of a Wellington Shire resident is 44 years, while the 60-64 age bracket is the largest demographic, representing 7.7 per cent of the population.

Meanwhile, the largest demographic in Victoria and Australia is 30-34 year old’s, representing 7.7 per cent of the former’s population and 7.3 per cent nationwide.

The median age at both a state and national level is 38.

Also of note in the 2021 Census is the declining number of people who identify as religious.

20,722 residents in the Wellington Shire declared having ‘No Religion’ on the Census, equating to 45.4 per cent of the population – an increase of 12.5 per cent compared to 2016.

These figures are well-above the statewide and nationwide responses, which saw a 7.1 per cent and 8.8 per cent increase in people identifying as non-religious, respectively.

The next most popular responses for religious affiliation in Wellington Shire were Anglican (16.8 per cent) and Catholic (14 per cent).

The Australian Census of Population and Housing is conducted every five years by the ABS, and asks households to answer a series of questions which are then returned to the bureau for analysis.

Responses provided by households are then used by the ABS to inform government policy, funding and management.

Australian Statistician and ABS agency head, Dr David Gruen, said it was important that everyone participated to ensure that every community is represented in the Census data.

“Census data is used to inform important decisions about transport, schools, health care, infrastructure and business at the community and national level,” Dr Gruen said.

“The high response rate means that Census data provides accurate insights to tell your community’s story.”

Cr Bye shared the sentiments expressed by Dr Gruen.

“The Census data helps us prepare for the future, for instance with the opening up of residential land to help house our growing population, as well as planning for all the important services and infrastructure needed to cater for the extra people,” he said.

Full census data for the Wellington Shire can be found online at www.abs.gov.au/census/find-census-data/quickstats/2021/LGA26810.