CENSUS 2011 data shows the population in half of the Wimmera’s municipalities increased, while the population in the other half has declined in the past decade.

Statistics for the region also show increases in the past 10 years in the number of people born overseas, people who identify as indigenous, people who speak a non-English language at home, people who are not religious and people in de facto relationships.

The cost of living has also risen in the Wimmera, with the median weekly rent payment more than doubling in Yarriambiack Shire and the median mortgage monthly repayment almost doubling in Ararat Rural City between 2001 and 2011.

A Mail-Times analysis of Census data from Horsham Rural City, Northern Grampians Shire, Yarriambiack Shire, Hindmarsh Shire, West Wimmera Shire and Ararat Rural City showed the selected data generally reflected national trends.

The increased populations were in Horsham Rural City, from 17,807 in 2001 to 19,279 in 2011; West Wimmera Shire, from 3184 in 2001 to 4251 in 2011, and Ararat Rural City from 11,101 in 2001 to 11,183 in 2011.

The Wimmera municipalities which lost people each Census year from 2001 to 2011 were Northern Grampians Shire, from 12,700 in 2001 to 11,845 in 2011; Yarriambiack Shire, from 7758 in 2001 to 7088 in 2011, and Hindmarsh Shire, from 6275 in 2001 to 5798 in 2011.

The number of overseas-born people in the Wimmera increased across every municipality, despite the population decline in half of the municipalities.

Horsham Rural City had the biggest number of overseas-born people, which rose from 828 in 2001 to 902 in 2006 and 1116 in 2011.

There was also an increase in the number of Wimmera people who spoke a non-English language at home.

Horsham Rural City had the most non-English speakers at home, rising from 378 in 2001 to 590 in 2011. But the rate more than doubled in Hindmarsh Shire, West Wimmera Shire and Ararat Rural City, and almost doubled in Northern Grampians Shire.

Wimmera Development Association executive director Jo Bourke said a major reason for the increase in overseas-born Wimmera people was a push by the association and other organisations to encourage migrants and refugees to register themselves as Wimmera residents through Medicare registration.

Governments fund migrant services in the region according to the number of registrations.

Wimmera people have also become less religious in the past decade, with a decline in the number of people who identify as Christian and an increase in the number of people who have no religion across every municipality.

Census at a glance – see today’s Mail-Times.

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