Information and Statistics (as at 31 December 2015)
Church Members: 146,443 (as of Dec 31, 2015)
Percentage LDS: 0.62% or one in 162
In the southwest South Pacific, the island-continent of Australia is a democratic federal state in the British Commonwealth. Australia’s population speaks English, and is 26 percent Anglican, 25 percent Protestant, and 25 percent Roman Catholic.
In 1840, William Barratt, 17 was called to serve a mission in Australia. He found circumstances difficult but baptized Robert Beauchamp who later became an influential mission president in Australia. Then next missionary was Andrew Anderson who had been baptized by Orson Pratt in Scotland. Before he emigrated to Australia, he was given license to preach there. He and his family arrived in 1842. By the end of 1844, he organized a branch of 11 members in the private township of Montefiores, some 220 miles northwest of Sydney.
John Murdock and Charles Wandell arrived from Utah 31 October 1851in Sydney, and established mission headquarters there. They published tracts, began preaching and found a few converts among a people very distracted by a gold rush. A year later, 47 members were in the mission when Murdock left because of ill health. On 6 April 1853, Wandell left with a company of Saints. A few days later, another 10 missionaries arrived under the direction of Augustus Farnham.
At least nine companies emigrated from Australia to Utah in the 1800s. The most serious ship accident among all the LDS emigrating companies occurred 3 October 1855, when the bark Julia Ann, carrying 28 Saints emigrating to Utah from Australia, broke up on shoals near the Scilly Islands. Five people were drowned in the mishap.
When word of the Utah War arrived in Australia in late December 1857, all missionaries returned to Utah. From then until 1875 only a few American missionaries were sent to Australia. Moreover; with greater successes in New Zealand, efforts of the Australasian Mission were focused there and in 1880 mission headquarters were moved to Auckland. After 1875 efforts in Australia were renewed and on 1 January 1898, the Australasian Mission was divided, forming the Australian and New Zealand Missions. At the time, membership in Australia was about 200.
Missionaries arrived in Perth, Western Australia, in 1888. The first LDS meetinghouse in the country was completed in Brisbane in 1904. Emigrating member’s continually depleted numbers and upset the Australian government, who in 1917 limited the number of missionaries who could enter Australia and in 1918 forbade 'emigration propaganda.”
Meetinghouses were dedicated in Melbourne in 1922, Adelaide in 1923, Sydney in 1924, and Perth and Hobart in 1925. World War II brought the evacuation of missionaries and slowed the work. Furthermore, shipping difficulties began immediately after the war and hindered the return of missionaries.
The South Australian Mission was created in 1955, with headquarters in Melbourne, and David 0. McKay authorized the construction of new meetinghouses that same year.
Australia's first stake was organized in Sydney 27 March 1960. Additional missions were created in 1958 (Adelaide), 1973 (Brisbane), and 1975 (Perth), 1993 (Sydney North) and 1998 (Melbourne West). The Sydney Australia Temple, dedicated 1984, was Australia's first temple. Additional temples have been dedicated in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane.
On 28 March 2003, Elder Kenneth Johnson presented 100,000 Australian Dollars to the Farmhand Foundation for drought relief.
Sources: United States Department of State, The World Factbook, cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook; Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; Australasian Mission. Manuscript history, Church Archives; Church Public Affairs, press release, 28 Mar. 2003; Marjorie Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 1991; john Douglas Hawkes, A History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Australia to 1900, thesis, 1965. “Saints Shine in Perth, Western Australia's 'City of Lights,’” Ensign, October 1988; Australian Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; and Christopher K. Bigelow, 'Australia: Coming Out of Obscurity,” Ensign, December 1998.