Our Population

Australia is an ethnically diverse society and nearly one in four Australians were born overseas. [1] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were the original inhabitants and make up 2.4% of the total  population. [1] Australia is also a geographically diverse country in terms of the natural landscape and the distribution of the population. This influences care planning and service provision.

Australia's population reached 24.1 million by the end of June 2016. It grew by 337,800 people (1.4 per cent) in the preceding year. Net overseas migration added 182,200 people to the population and accounted for 54 per cent of Australia's total population growth in this period. [1]

Like most developed countries, Australia's population is ageing as a result of sustained low fertility and increasing life expectancy. In the states and territories, differences in age structure are largely due to migration as people move for economic, lifestyle and family reasons. [1]

The proportion of older people-that is, people aged 65 and over-in the Australian population is increasing. The number of people aged 65 and over has more than tripled over fifty years, rising to 3.4 million in 2014. There has also been a ninefold increase in the number of people aged 85 and over, to 456,600 in 2014. Based on population projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there will be 9.6 million people aged 65 and over and 1.9 million people aged 85 and over by 2064. [2]

Four out of every ten Australians aged 65 and over in 2014 (37%) were born overseas - 14% in main English–speaking countries (the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and South Africa) and 23% in non–English speaking countries. [2] The most common non-English speaking countries of birth for older people were Italy (4% of all older people), Greece, New Zealand and Germany (approximately 2% each). Italian was the most common non-English language spoken at home by people aged 65 and over in 2011 (111,000 people), then Greek (69,000) and Chinese (49,000). [3]

Over the next several decades, population ageing will have a range of implications for Australia, including; health, size of the working-age population, housing and demand for skilled labour. While data from 2014-2015 showed that 67% of older Australians did not use aged care services, [4] around 80% of Australians who died in 2010-2011 aged 65 or over had used aged care services in the eight years prior to their death and that three-quarters of this group had used an aged care service during the 12 months before they died. [5] This suggests that aged care services are an important partner in the provision of end-of-life care for older Australians.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2016 [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2017 Apr 26]; ABS cat. no. 3101.0
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Ageing [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2017 Apr 27].
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Reflecting a nation: stories from the 2011 Census, 2012-2013 [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2017 Apr 26]; ABS cat. no. 2071.0.
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Older Australia at a glance [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2017 Apr 27].
  5. Joenpera J, Van Der Zwan F, Karmel R, Cooper-Stanbury M. Long and winding road: Aged care use before death. Australas J Ageing. 2016 Mar;35(1)9-11.

Page updated 03 October 2017