Social classes in Australia

Who do we need to evangelise to in Australia, and how would we do it – to shepherd a New Pentecost?

The Australian Plenary Council has been looking to address the challenges the Australian Catholic Church is currently facing.

Here, we take a different approach – a class perspective. To paraphrase and add to the words of Pope Pius XI, the Catholic Church in Australia has not only lost the working class, but perhaps it has lost all social classes in Australia.

Social Class: How We Describe Ourselves

An Australian Nationa University survey (ANUpoll, September 2015), “Social Class in Australia – Beyond the ‘Working’ and ‘Middle’ Classes“, identified the following:

  • Almost all Australians (94%) view themselves as belonging to a social class.
  • More than half (52%) say they belong to the middle class.
  • Two in five Australians describe themselves as working class (40%).
  • Only two per cent (2%) see themselves as upper class.
  • The tendency to view ourselves as middle class is longstanding but is likely to have become stronger as ‘white collar’ industries have expanded.

Jill Sheppard and Nicholas Biddle, the study’s authors, noted that the data – based on the respondents’ economic, social and cultural capital – identifies five observable (or ‘objective’) classes in Australian society.

They named these classes (1) an established affluent class, (2) an emergent affluent class, (3) a mobile middle class, (4) an established middle class, and (5) an established working class.

A snapshot of these five classes shows the difference in these classes’ economic, social and cultural capital.

Sheppard and Biddle would further analyse Australia’s social classes and identify six classes in their 2017 article, “Class, capital, and identity in Australian society.” These classes were (1) Precariat – 13%, (2) Ageing workers – 14%, (3) New workers – 24%, (4) Established middle – 24%, (5) Emerging affluent – 15%, (6) Established affluent – 11%.

Social classes among Australian Catholics

The Social Profile of the Catholic Community in Australia, 2021 provides one broad view of social classes in the Australian Catholic church. The members of the Australian Catholic Church comprise – in general – managers and professionals (37%) and blue-collar workers (28%).

The median annual family income of members in the Australian Catholic is $120,943


Looking at Australian society and the Australian Catholic society, what do we make of it?

How could we evangelise to both these societies?

What do they need?

What can we offer?


How can we use the jocist method to transform both these societies?

The jocist method provides us with the reason to transform society and the method to transform society – and in the process, transforming ourselves.


Can we start the New Pentecost today and every day?

By Greg Lopez