IN 1901, the year of Federation, the official n population was 3.788 million people.
Of course that did not include Indigenous ns, who shamefully were not included in Census counts for another 70 years. By 1971 there were an estimated 120,000 Indigenous ns, or 1 per cent of the population.
In 1901 was predominantly Anglo-Celtic and white, with settlers from Asia and the European continent making up only 2 per cent of the population.
That figure is reflected in a speech by Attorney General Alfred Deakin at the opening of Federal Parliament on May 9, 1991, in which his vision was for an n nation “that should remain one people, without the admixture of other races”.
In 1901 ’s religious beliefs, at least on paper, were consistent as well. The Bureau of Statistics records 40 per cent of ns as Anglicans, 23 per cent Catholic, 34 per cent as “other Christian” and 1 per cent as followers of non-Christian religions.
Good Friday in 1901 would have been a day where the majority of nswould have taken part in some form of religious service acknowledging the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It would have been a relatively solemn day where Christians were reminded of the duty of sacrifice, and the need for obedience and repentance.
Much has changed since then.
On Good Friday,1901, shops and places of entertainment would have been closed. In many homes across the country fish would have replaced meat for the main meal.
Good Friday, 2017, for many ns is a day of sitting in the car for the annual trek north to spend the Easter long weekend at a coastal location, pitching a tent and enjoying the beauty of this ancient land that’s girt by sea.
Very few will walk into a church to acknowledge the death of Christ. Many, many more will walk into a shopping centre to buy groceries or Easter eggs for Sunday.
Many lament how has changed over the past century, how it has lost its conformity and changed into a nation made up of multiple cultures,backgrounds and faiths.
Many others, though, celebrate what has become –a largely peaceful and reasonable nation of people who might struggle with difference at times, but come to accept and embrace change and renewal.
That is the new message of Easter.