The Hepburn Shire followed the nationwide trend of kicking religion to the curb in the 2016 census, while Daylesford’s permanent population has gone backward since the last count.
All up 40.9 per cent of the Hepburn Shire’s 15,330 residents listed themselves as having no religious affiliations in 2016, up from 32.2 per cent at the 2011 national poll.
The change exceeds the national trend across the five years which saw the no religion figure climb from 22.3 to 29.6 per cent.
Overall the population of the shire continues to grow, albeit at a low rate, up almost 1000 people from 14,367 to 15,330.
Daylesford’s permanent population has dropped over the five year period, down from 2565 in 2011 to 2548 in 2016. The town’s boundaries have been slightly adjusted to take in a larger portion of Hepburn Springs and Eganstown.
Hepburn Shire mayor Sebastian Klein said the Daylesford residential figures were consistent the anecdotal evidence which suggested a large portion of the town’s population had not permanently settled in the shire.
He said while population growth was important for the shire, it wasn’t the driving force behind the municipalities economic strength like some metropolitan regions.
“Broadly the Australian economy is linked to population growth but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case in Hepburn,” Cr Klein said.
“Construction of property is a big economic contributor to the local economy and (the population statistics) certainly hasn’t stopped building.”
Creswick continues to be the shire’s largest town in terms of permanent population with 3170 residents, up from 2942 in 2011.
Trentham’s permanent population also fell over the five years from 1411 to 1180, however the township’s catchement area was dramatically reduced in the 2016 poll.
Clunes continued its steady population growth, up from 1656 to 1728.
The shire is continuing to become more diverse, with almost 24 per cent of us being born outside of Australia compared to 20 per cent in 2011.
Families throughout the municipality are also making do with far less than the average weekly income for Victoria, with a median family income for the shire of $1287 compared to the state median of $1715.