Latest census data

Looking up the Bellinger River towards the mountains
Looking up the Bellinger River towards the mountains

Details from the 2016 census are gradually being released, with the latest sets being community profiles.

An interactive tool funded by Council and available via www.bellingen.nsw.gov.au/community/community-data  crunches the data and provides plenty of fascinating facts and comparisons.

For example, did you know that only 1 per cent of Urunga’s population comes from a non-English speaking background, whereas Australia-wide it’s 17.9 per cent?

Dorrigo is not that different at 1.5 per cent while in Bellingen it’s 2.5 per cent and across regional NSW it’s 5.8 per cent.

The five main heritages professed in Bellingen Shire are English (5,588 people or 44.1%), Australian (5,318 people or 42.0%), Irish (1,741 people or 13.7%), Scottish (1,547 people or 12.2%) and German (619 people or 4.9%).

The shire’s population has been relatively static in the last five years. From 2011 to 2016, it increased by 153 people (1.2%), to 12,893.

And we now have fewer young people and more older people than the averages for regional NSW.

Across the shire, there’s a larger percentage of 'Empty nesters and retirees' (16.4% compared to 13.1%); a larger percentage of 'Older workers & pre-retirees' (16.7% compared to 13.8%); a smaller percentage of 'Young workforce' (7.5% compared to 11.0%) and a smaller percentage of 'Tertiary education & independence' (4.9% compared to 7.9%).

We have fewer households with children compared to other regional areas, and more households of couples without children, sole parents and sole occupant households.

Breaking it down, in Dorrigo, 13.1 per cent are 0–15 years and 33.5 per cent are 65 years and over; in Urunga it’s 12.9 per cent and 31.4 per cent.

However, Bellingen bucks the trend, with 22.8 per cent of the population aged 15 and under, and 19.8% aged 65 years and over, making the town a tad more youthful than regional NSW, which has 18.4 per cent and 20.6 per cent respectively.

Looking at who’s got the dollars across the shire shows that income-wise, we’re doing slightly better than the average on the Mid North Coast but not earning as much as the regional NSW average or Australians in general.

Analysis of individual income levels in Bellingen Shire in 2016 compared to the Mid North Coast shows there was a higher proportion of people earning a high income (5.8% earning $1,750 per week or more, compared to 5.1% across the MNC)  and a lower proportion of low income people (44.3% earning less than $500 per week, compared to 45.7%).

However, across regional NSW the high income figure is 8.3 per cent and the low income figure is 40 per cent; Australia-wide it’s a bit more equitable at 11.5 per cent high and 37.4 per cent low respectively. 

Breaking it down within the shire, Dorrigo is worst off, with only 3.6 per cent on a high income and 50 per cent on a low income; Urunga has 4.5 per cent high income earners and 45.3 per cent low, while Bellingen pulls the averages up a little with 5.2 per cent earning $1,750 plus and 43.6 per cent struggling on less than $500 weekly.