21 million inhabitants (2009) Density: 2.8 inhabitants per sq. km France has 18 urban areas with over 100,000 inhabitants.
The five largest are:
- Sydney 4,399,722
- Melbourne 3,892,419
- Brisbane 1,945,639
- Perth 1,602,559
- Adelaide 1,172,105
Australia’s welfare system provides support to those in need, but it must be sustainable to ensure that it meets the long-term needs of our society. The changes to the welfare system for working age Australians will address high levels of welfare dependency and will improve workforce participation.
Since 1974, the proportion of working age Australians receiving an income support payment has risen from a modest 5 per cent to around 20 per cent today. Around 2.6 million working age Australians currently receive some welfare payment.
Strong economic growth since 1996 has lowered unemployment — but has done little to slow the growth in single parents and people with disabilities on welfare.
The social impact of welfare dependency is high. Australia has a high proportion of people living in jobless families. Around 690,000 children live in households where no parent works.
Education in Australia is primarily the responsibility of states and territories.
Generally, education in Australia follows the three-tier model which includes primary education (primary schools), followed by secondary education (secondary schools/high schools) and tertiary education (universities and/or TAFE Colleges). The Programme for International Student Assessment for 2006 ranks the Australian education system as 6th on a worldwide scale for Reading, 8th for Science and 13th for Mathematics.
Education is compulsory up to an age specified by legislation; this age varies from state to state but is generally 15-16, that is prior to completing secondary education. Post-compulsory education is regulated within the Australian Qualifications Framework, a unified system of national qualifications in schools, vocational education and training (TAFE) and the higher education sector (university).
The academic year in Australia varies between states and institutions, but generally runs from late January until mid-December for primary and secondary schools and TAFE colleges, and from late February until mid-November for universities with seasonal holidays and breaks for each educational institute.
Australia has no state religion. In the 2006 census, 64% of Australians were listed as Christian of any denomination, including 26% as Roman Catholic and 19% as Anglican. "No religion" (which includes humanism, atheism, agnosticism, and rationalism) accounted for 19% and is the fastest growing group (refer difference in census 2006 versus census 2001 results) and a further 12% declined to answer or did not give a response adequate for interpretation.
The second largest religion in Australia is Buddhism, followed by Hinduism and Islam. Overall less than 6% of Australians identify with non-Christian religions. Weekly attendance at church services in 2004 was about 1.5 million: about 7.5% of the population, and religion does not play a central role in the lives of a large portion of the population.