Population Growth, Boat Arrivals & Australia's Humanitarian Program

Monday, June 23, 2014

In June 2014 McCrindle analysed the data on population growth (ABS), migration numbers (Department of Immigration) and we hope the infographic below is useful for an understanding of the drivers behind Australia’s population growth.

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Australia’s Population Increase (last 12 months):

  • Australia’s annual growth rate is 1.8% which equates to 405,400 people over the last year. In 2008 net overseas migration was 459,904 (therefore population growth numbers in the last year were 54,504 less than they were 5 years ago). 
  • Annual growth is comprised of two factors: natural increase (births minus deaths) and net overseas migration (permanent arrivals minus permanent departures). A permanent arrival is defined by someone living in Australia for 12 months or more (or 12 months over a 16 month period).  The same time frames apply to permanent departures. 
  • 59% of Australia’s population increase is through migration which was 241,000 people last year.  In 2008 net overseas migration was 315,700 which equates to 74,700 fewer last year than 5 years ago. 41% of Australia’s population growth was through natural increase which was 164,400 people.    
    • Natural increase: 164,400 (41% of population growth)
      • Births: 310,600
      • Deaths: 146,200
    • Net overseas migration: 241,000 (59% of population growth)
      • Arrivals: 511,600
      • Departures: 270,600
  • The net overseas migration rate for the last decade has been hovering around 1% per annum (that is, it is the equivalent of about 1% of our population while the natural increase is equivalent to about 0.8% to our population).
  • 42% of those migrating are given permanent visas which was 101,230 in the last year.  Therefore those given permanent visas account for 25% of Australia’s population growth.
  • Of the net overseas migration, 58% are granted temporary visas (students, working holiday makers, visitors staying 12 months or more, 457 work visas), and 42% are granted permanent visas (skilled, family and humanitarian).
  • 20% of these are part of Australia’s humanitarian program- a total of 19,930 (with the remainder being skilled visas, 43%, and family visas, 37%), and so Australia’s humanitarian program accounts for 5% of Australia’s growth.
  • Of the humanitarian visas, 63% are granted offshore (as part of the UNHCR program in operation, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Asia), 12% are granted to existing visa holders who are already in Australia, and 25% are granted to people who have arrived into Australian territorial waters by boat and are processed in detention centres (a total of 4,949 in the last year).
  • Therefore asylum seekers account for 1.2% of Australia’s population growth.

Immigration Detention and Community Statistics Summary

As at 31 May 2014, there were 4016 people in immigration detention facilities, including 2779 in immigration detention on the mainland and 1237 in immigration detention on Christmas Island.

Of these people in detention, 89% had arrived by boat (3566 people).  The number in detention facilities currently is less than half the number that were in detention facilities a year ago (In May 2013 there were 8521). 

Boat Arrivals in Australia (Irregular Maritime Arrivals):

Here is a summary of the Boat Arrivals in Australia (Irregular Maritime Arrivals) over the last 10 years as provided by the Parliamentary Library:

Year Number of boats Number of people (excludes crew)
2005 4 11
2006 6 60
2007 5 148
2008 7 161
2009 60 2726
2010 134 6555
2011 69 4565
2012 278 17204
2013 300 20587
2014 (to 23.6.14) 0 0

Sources: Department of Immigration (immi.gov.au), Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au), Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia.

If every asylum seeker who arrived by boat since 2005 (52,017) was granted entry to Australia (and many have returned voluntarily, others have been deported, and still others are yet to have their cases determined), the total number when compared to Australia’s population growth over this 9.5 year period (3,514,300) would account for less than 1.5% of Australia’s population growth. So total arrivals by boat over almost 10 years is the equivalent of less than 9 weeks of Australian births.

Research that tells a story

Friday, May 30, 2014

Our passion is conducting research that lives and tells a story. 

Only when research is seen and interacted with does it truly makes a difference, and none have made research come alive better than the visionary team at Freedom Foods and the creative geniuses at Analog Folk, bringing the Good Food Karma Index to life based on McCrindle's mathematical algorithm, national surveys, data analysis and research visualisation.

We love seeing our research tell a story – and who doesn't like a story about food? Check out the infographic below for state versus state and male versus female stats, Australia's latest food facts, and a description of Australia's four food personalities. 

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Watch the Good Food Karma Video

In a world of big data-we’re for visual data. We believe in the democratisation of information-that research should be accessible to everyone not just to the stats junkies. We’re passionate about turning tables into visuals, data into videos and reports into presentations.

As researchers, we understand the methods, but we’re also designers and know what will communicate and how to best engage.

Visit researchvisualisation.com for more info, and click here to discover how the Good Food Karma Index was derived.

Demand Vs. Supply: Australia's Aged Care Puzzle

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

With Australia’s ageing population, increased life expectancy and longevity, there are growing demands for aged care in our nation.

Australia’s aged care sector is under pressure to meet this growing demand while at the same time facing significant recruitment and workforce challenges with half of the current aged care workforce reaching retirement age in the next 15 years.

McCrindle crunches the numbers in the latest infographic, the Aged Care Puzzle, to determine the magnitude of the demand versus supply gap.

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THE CHALLENGE OF DEMAND

Australia as an ageing nation

Australia is experiencing a baby boom, with births exceeding 315,000 a year, as well as an increasingly ageing population. The over 65s make up 15% of our population today, and forecasts project that this cohort will make up 17% in 2024, and by 2044, 1 in 5 Australians (20%) will be aged over 65.

Australia’s population pyramids visually show the growth of our ageing population, and in 2044 our population pyramid will become inverted with the number of over 60s outnumbering the under 18s for the first time. Our median age is also increasing – three decades ago the median age of an Australian was 30.5, today it is 37.3 and in 2044 it is projected to be 40.

The over 85s, where there is an even greater need for aged care services, are growing at an even faster rate than the over 65s. In 1984 there were 120,862 Australians aged over 85, today there are 4 times as many, and in 2044 there will be 14 times as many.

Not only are there more older people in our nation but Australians are living longer than ever before. Life expectancy at birth in 1984 was 75.8, whereas today it exceeds 80 for a male and 84 for a female. In 2044, it is projected to be 90.4.

Health advancements are increasing longevity

The primary enabler of this increased and ongoing longevity gain has been the health system rather than individual behaviour. Life expectancy increases will continue because of improved medical technologies, public health infrastructure, better public health measures, new and improved medical interventions and the improved survivability rates of major illnesses and cancers.

The health system is also what will keep us living longer in the future. With Australians living longer than ever before, there will be an increasing need for procedures and medical intervention, and a growing expectation from the public that these services will continue to be provided.

A decade ago, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were the 6th largest causes of death in Australia, accounting for 4,364 deaths in 2002. Today they are the 3rd leading causes of death with the number of deaths having more than doubled to 9,864. Over the same period of time, deaths due to the first and second causes of deaths (heart disease and brain disease) have been decreasing. If today’s current trend continues over the next decade, by 2021 dementia and Alzheimer’s disease will be the leading cause of death in Australia.

With little change in the retirement age and an increase in longevity, the retirement years have increased and the years for which supported care is needed has also increased. Not only is our population larger, our population is also living longer.

Exponential growth of centenarians will keep the Queen busy

In 1952, the year that Queen Elizabeth II became sovereign, 40 letters of congratulations would need to have been written for Australians turning 100. This year, 2,643 Australians will turn 100 and in 30 years the number of congratulatory letters written to Australians turning 100 will increase to 18,567 in the year 2044.

THE CHALLENGE OF SUPPLY

Not only is there an increasing demand on the services provided by the aged care sector with the growing number of over 85s, there is also a workforce supply challenge.

Ratio of Workers to Retirees Declining

The ageing population will place greater demands for productivity on the labour force. In 1970, for every couple of retirement age there were 15 people in the working age population, by 2010 there were just 10 people of working age for every couple of retirement age, and this is projected to decline to just 5 people of working age for every couple at retirement age by 2050.

An Ageing Workforce

Along with our ageing population, we also have an ageing workforce. Today the median age of an Australian is 37.3 and the median age of a worker is 40. However this varies across sectors – for example, the median age in the retail sector is 33.4, finance 37.3, construction 38.5, health 41.1, education 42.1. However in the aged care sector this ageing is even more pronounced – the median age for a residential direct care worker is 48 and community direct care workers is 50 years which makes it the sector with the highest median age of an employee.

Impending retirements

Because of the high median age of an employee in the aged care sector, half of the aged care workforce will be of retirement age in 15 years. There are 240,445 workers in the aged care sector, so this equates to an average of 8,015 retirements per year for the next 15 years, which averages to 668 farewell lunches per month.

If we are to keep the current ratio of aged care workers to people aged over 85 in our nation, we need to add 77,976 workers in the next 10 years, which equates to recruiting 650 new workers per month, in addition to replacing the 668 retiring staff per month.

A Growing Need

In the next 30 years Australia will see an unprecedented rate of growth of the over 85s in our nation. In 2044 there will be 1.2 million more people aged over 85 than there are today, and the average older Australian will live 5 years longer than today which equates to adding 6 million more years of care just for the increased number of over 85s and just to manage their increased life expectancy.

Download the analysis and the infographic.

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Generation Z: Living Longer, Costing More

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It has often been said that today’s young people will be the first generation of children who won’t live as long as their parents because of the rise in childhood obesity, increased “screen-time”, sedentary lifestyles and the increased intake of high fat and sugar foods. 

 It is true that young Australians regularly eat fast food more than the average Australian, obesity rates have risen significantly in a generation, and based on current trends almost 3 in 4 Generation Z will be overweight or obese by the time they reach adulthood. Additionally young Australians consume more screen time than ever before – on average this total screen time exceeds 10 hours per day.

However, the proportion of Australians with long term health conditions and lifestyle risk factors such as smoking has declined significantly over the last decade and the survivability of morbid illnesses continues to rise. Australians are not only amongst the longest-living in the world, they have seen life expectancy increase continuously for more than a century. A boy born in Australia today can expect to live to 80 years, while a girl can expect to live to 84. Having survived to age 60, men can expect to live another 23 years and women another 26 years. Australians have added 10 years of life expectancy in the last 40 years and this longevity increase is still continuing.

This remarkable increase in life expectancy is the product of public health measures, medical improvements, pharmaceutical advancements, and astonishing increases in survivability rates across all age groups. For example, in 1990, the mortality rate for children this age was 0.4 deaths per 1,000 yet it has since declined by more than half! Regardless of youth trends concerning sedentary lifestyles and higher calorie intake, Generation Z will on average outlive their parents, as has been the case with every Australian generation since record keeping began.

This longevity is not without its downsides. Just because a generation has seen improvement in the length of life, doesn’t mean there will be improvement in the quality of those additional years. Additionally, the costs of funding retirement have dramatically increased in the last few decades, not only because of the cost of living but also due to the length of life. By the time Generation Z begin to retire (beginning in 2063) the average median capital city house price will exceed $2 million and the average retiree will need at least $600,000 more to achieve a comfortable retirement than the average required today.

– Mark McCrindle

Discover this emerging generation at GenerationZ.com.au and see our latest infographic for the stats.

Australia Street 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

If you live on an average sized street in Australia comprised of 100 households, did you know that of those on your street there is a marriage every 9 months, a death every 7 months and a birth every 14 weeks? These 100 households comprise 260 people, 45 dogs and 27 cats! There are 162 cars owned on the street, which in total drive more than 2 million kilometres each year.

Based on the latest ABS data and other sources, and using this theme of Australia shrunk down to be a street of 100 households, we have developed the below infographic. You can also see the animated video version of it here

So, welcome to Australia Street.

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Mark McCrindle on the Pulse of the Nation

Monday, February 24, 2014

Social Researcher Mark McCrindleSocial researcher Mark McCrindle:

It is imperative that we observe the shifts, respond to the trends, and so make the changes to remain relevant for our communities, our customers, and our organisations. 

The speed of change today, the scale of the trends, and the impact of the shifts have accelerated in recent times.

It's only occasionally in history that massive demographic change collides with rapid technological shifts and huge social trends, so much so that within the span of a decade society altogether alters. Today we are living amidst one such transformation.

We not only have new technologies in our pockets, but we have new words in our lexicons. 'Tweets', 'tablets', and the 'cloud' have changed their meaning in the last 5 years, and to 'share' or 'like' something now requires technology. 

Demographically we’re also fast-changing, with our population now sitting at 23.5 million and our national growth rate (1.8%) well above the world’s growth rate (1.0%). With a natural increase of 160,000 people per year (births minus deaths) and net overseas migration at 240,000 people per year (arrival minus departures), it is no doubt that we will continue to see an ever-growing, ever-changing, and ever-diverse cultural landscape.

Our households are changing,  with the nuclear family soon to be overtaken as Australia’s most common household (by couple-only households), and an increase in multi-generational households emerging. We’re an ageing society with a median age of 37.3 compared to 30.5 just a generation ago.

The way that we absorb, digest, and communicate information is changing in this post-structural, post-category, and post-linear era. Teachers, educators, HR professionals and trainers are needing to respond to changing learning styles, shorter attention spans, and the message saturation of today.

Our world is experiencing the biggest generational change since the birth of the post-war Baby Boomers. Increasingly Baby Boomers are downshifting, Generation Xers and Ys are the emerging managers, and the Gen Zeds are today’s new employees. The attitudes, values, and expectations of today’s workforce are changing through these generational shifts.

It is imperative that organisations respond to these changing times by rethinking the way they engage their customer communities, connect with their key stakeholders, and communicate their core message. Forecasts and strategic plans based on insightful research and customer segmentation is essential to help leaders understand the times.

-Mark McCrindle

Social researcher Mark McCrindle

Mark McCrindle is a social researcher with an international renown for tracking emerging issues, researching social trends and analysing market segments. His understanding of the key social trends and his engaging communication style places him on high demand in the media, at national conferences and in strategic boardroom briefings.

Mark is able to tailor his expertise, research, and analysis to suit your organisation’s specific needs. His latest topics include:

• Social networking, social media, social business: Emerging technologies, new strategies

• New consumers, diverse generations, emerging segments: Engaging with the ever changing customer

• Demographic shifts, social trends, future forecasts: Connecting with today’s communities

• Know the times, shape the trends: Engaging with key trends redefining our society

• Communication skills for the 21st century: Getting effective cut through in our message saturated society

• Leading teams in changing times: Motivating & leading teams in 21st century times

• Strategic trends forum: Strategic analysis of the external environment

To see examples of Mark’s recently delivered speaking sessions, click here, and contact us to check a date or enquire further about Mark’s presentations.

Australia's Population Map and Generational Profile

Thursday, February 20, 2014

We are pleased to present our hot-off-the-press 2014 Population Map and Generational Profile!

Australia’s Population Map

Population MapThe population map is a handy resource that outlines Australian demographics – city by city, state by state. Australia’s eight capital cities are contextualised by population size amidst many of Australia’s other major cities, and population growth is analysed from state to state.

It takes just one handy glance to determine that while Tasmania’s population growth is just 0.1%, Western Australia leads the charge at 3.4%, compared the national average of 1.8%.

And while the ACT’s total fertility rate is just 1.79, slightly under the 1.9 national average, the Northern Territory’s is much higher at 2.21 births per woman.

The employment and population break-out boxes deliver insights of demographic and social change over the last 30 and 100 years. Australia’s workforce has grown by 2.8 million full-time and 2.4 million part-time workers since 1984, and unemployment rates have decreased by almost 3%.

Over the last century, Australia’s population has grown by 18.5 million people. Our national growth rate is well above the world’s average at 1.0%, caused by a steady growth in annual births and net overseas migration.

Australia’s Generational Profile

Generational ProfileThe generational profile delivers a concise snapshot of Australia’s generations by their years of birth, population size, percentage make-up of the workforce, and education levels.

While the Baby Boomers currently make up over a third (34%) of the total workforce, by 2020 they will comprise of less than 1 in 5 workers. Australia’s workforce is increasingly made up of Generation Y (which will grow from 21% today to 35% in 2020) and Generation Z (comprising just 2% of workers today but rising to 12% in 2020).

Visit our online cart to order the double side printed 420gsm gloss artboard, A5-sized infographic for your desk, your next event, or your clients! You can also download the free digital version here

Australia's Population Map

Australia's Generational Profile

Man Drought

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Man Drought McCrindle

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The so-called “man drought” is an expression that has been used to describe the demographic reality in Australia of the population of women exceeding that of men. In Australia there are almost 100,000 more women than men, with 6 out of our 8 states and territories experiencing a man drought, while the Northern Territory and Western Australia have a significant male surplus. Currently there are almost 105 baby boys born for every 100 baby girls and so while there are more male than female children and teenagers in Australia, the gender gap dissipates in the twenties and by age 35, there are more females than males.

The regions in Australia with no “man drought” are those with significant mining operations (particularly Western Australia) and large military bases (most notable in the Northern Territory). In the NT there are almost 111 males for every 100 females, and WA has 102 males for every 100 females, with 27,389 more men than women in the state.

Victoria is the state with the highest ratio with females to males (98 males to every 100 females), with 58,399 more women than men. In Victoria there are no population centres not currently experiencing a man drought. However, suburb by suburb reveals gender disparities. Footscray has a man surplus (13% more males than females), whereas a few suburbs away in South Melbourne, the man drought is very evident with 5% more females than males.


NSW: Singleton is living up to its name with not only almost 5% more males than females, but with a median age of just 33 (well below the national average age of 38), many of these males are indeed single. Interestingly, just 90 minutes south is Wyong, where there are almost 7% females than males (almost 5,000).

Sydney makes for a fascinating study in populations by gender, with Pyrmont having 3.6% more males than females whereas the next suburb over the Anzac bridge lies Balmain with 8.7% more females than males.


QLD: While Queensland is suffering a man drought at an overall state level, the drought has more than broken in many of its inland cities, particularly where there are mining activities and Mt Isa is a classic example with almost 12% more males than females (an oversupply of 1137 men). However 1,000kms north east is Cairns with a man drought (1537 more women than men).

In Brisbane, the river represents a man drought divide with Yeronga experiencing the man drought (almost 5% more women than men), while Spring Hill has a man over supply (a whopping 27% more men than women).


SA: In South Australia, Whyalla is home to one of the state’s few places not experiencing a man drought with 241 more men than women. While West Lakes (along with most suburbs in Adelaide), is in man drought with almost 8% more women than men.


WA: Many of WA’s towns have no man drought – Kalgoolie a leading example with almost 10% more men than women, while Bunbury, south of Perth, like many of WA’s costal towns has more women than men (1.3%).

In Perth, Midland has 2% more men than women but just half an hour to the west lies Stirling with 1561 more women than men (almost 3%).


TAS: Every city and town in Tasmania is experiencing man drought – however Central Hobart has more men than women (1%), but just 2km west is West Hobart which has 9% more women than men.


ACT: And in the National Capital, Commonwealth Avenue acts as a man drought conduit with South Canberra experiencing man drought (530 more women than men), but on the other side of Commonwealth Ave bridge in North Canberra, there are 592 more men than women. 

Getting to Work [Infographic]

Monday, February 03, 2014

Over 10 million Australians make their way to work every day, with almost 2 in 3 doing so by private car. McCrindle Research analyses the data to determine how Australian workers commute, comparing movement by workers across the nation’s capitals.


Getting to Work - McCrindle

The national traffic jam


There are 18.3 million Australians aged 17 and over, and 13.3 million registered passenger vehicles in Australia – 1 vehicle per 1.37 people of driving age. Less than 1 in 10 households get by without a car while most (54%) have at least two cars.

If Australia’s 13.3 million passenger vehicles were parked end to end (based on the average 4.12 metre length of an Australian car), the traffic jam would stretch 54,796 kilometres, which is more than 13 times the distance from Sydney to Perth (4,000 km).


Car nation


The percentage of workers who commute by private care has risen to 65.5%, up from 65.3% 5 years ago, and just 1 in 10 Australians rely on public transport.

Of all adult Australians in full time work or study, more than 7 in 10 (71%) primarily use a passenger vehicle. Almost 9 in 10 adults use a car to get places other than work (88%).


To Pluto and back…20 times!


The average Australian car drives 12,881 kilometres per year which means Australians, in their more than 13 million vehicles drive a combined 167 billion kilometres annually. With Pluto at the outer edge of our solar system located 4 billion kilometres from earth, this is the equivalent to driving there and back almost 20 times every year!


Less green than half a decade ago


Australians are “less green” in their work commute than 5 years ago with 655,939 more people driving to work (up by 0.8%) and the only three commuting methods to have declined in share are walking (down 0.3%), going as a car passenger (down by 0.6%) and motorcycle/scooter (down by 0.1%).


Public transport plus


1 in 5 train commuters also require a car for their trip (as driver or passenger) but just 1 in 10 bus commuters also require a car. In total about 1 in 5 public transport users require multiple forms of transport for their commute.

More than half of Australians (54%) state that the reason that they don’t use public transport is that there is no service or none at the right time for them. Just 1 in 10 say it is because they need their own vehicle for work and just 1 in 12 need it to carry work items or other people.


An ageing population and ageing workforce means more car trips


As women age, their use of passenger vehicles to get to work increased and their use of public transport decreased. This trend was the same for men until age 55, from which point they use public transport more and commute by car less.


Sydney trumps public transport use


Even though Sydney has 400,000 more people than Melbourne, Melbourne has 58,568 more people who drive to work than Sydney.

Sydney is the Australian capital with the lowest proportion of commuters driving to work (53.7%) and the highest proportion of commuters using public transport.

Sydney has 1 million more commuters now than in 2006 but 6,653 fewer car passenger commuters today. However, there are more cars used to transport Sydneysiders to work than there are cars used by workers in the states of Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania combined (more than 1.2 million).

Sydney has as many people who get to work by train (almost 190,000) as the rest of Australia’s other national cities combined. Sydney is also the city of ferries – with just as many ferry commuters (11,000) as motorbike commuters.

More Sydneysiders get to work by truck (21,445) than by bicycle (18,811)!


Female cyclists lead the way in Melbourne


Melbourne has more bicycle commuters than any other city in Australia (25,594). In fact 41% of all women who ride to work in Australia live in Melbourne.

Sydney, Brisbane and Perth are the only capitals where bicycles are not in the Top 5 means of getting to work.


Tasmanians best at giving their mates a lift, but also drive the most cars


Hobart residents are the most likely to drop someone to work. For every 10 people who drive themselves, 1 person gets a lift to work. On the contrast, in Melbourne, someone gets a lift to work for every 14 drivers.

Tasmanians most rely on their car to get to work, with 87% involving a car in their commute, either as a driver or passenger. This is followed by Queenslanders (85%) and Canberrians (83%).


Brisbane the city of motorcycles


Even though Brisbane has 2 million fewer people than Melbourne, it has 1,725 more motorcycle commuters than Melbourne.


Ferrying, motorbiking, cycling, and driving more common among men while women are more frequent on trams, buses, and as car passengers.


Across Australia, far more men catch ferries than women, but far more women catch trams than men.

Busses are much more likely to have women commuters than men in every city, while men are 8 times more likely to commute by motorbike.

Men are much more likely to drive, women much more likely to be passengers, and train travel is even from a gender perspective.

In Canberra there are 2 female bicycle commuters for every 5 males while in Brisbane there are just 2 for every 10 male bicycle commuters.


NT the state for walking, SA the state for driving


The Northern Territory is the Australia’s “walk to work” capital with 11% of all workers getting to work by foot. It is the only Australian state or territory where “walked only” exceeds getting a lift to work in a car, and such are the numbers that a larger proportion of Territorians walk to work than the proportion of public transport users in all other states and territories (less than 10%).

In Adelaide work commuters have increased by 8% since 2006 but fewer people walk to work today (2.5%) than in 2006 (2.7%). It is also Australia’s drive to work capital with almost 7 in 10 workers arriving by car.


Strange ways to get to work


On the 2011 Census question, “How did you get to work on Census Day?” 1,200,506 workers in Sydney made their way to work in a car, 187,760 Sydney-siders took the train, and 107,895 the bus.

Other Sydney-siders, however, chose more unconventional ways to travel. 80 Sydneysiders reported taking both a motorcycle and a bicycle to work, and 49 Sydney-siders stated they took first a train, then a bus, and then a motorbike to work. An astounding 27 workers took a bus, followed by a car, followed by a bicycle ride.


Download the analysis and the infographic.

Click here to download this file


Australia Then and Now: 30 Years of Change

Saturday, January 25, 2014
Australia Then and Now McCrindle

Click here to download the infographic.


Australia is a nation in transition. In the span of a generation, Australia’s population has increased by more than half. Demographically we are ageing, with an average age 7 years older than it was 3 decades ago, but with a life expectancy 7 years greater than it was in 1984.

Our growing population is being achieved not only through this increased longevity, but also through record births- more than 300,000 per year. This is more than 25% higher than the peak of the original post-war baby boom. Yet as significant as this natural increase is, the largest source of our population grow immigration, with significant shifts in the Top 5 countries of birth. In 1984, the Top 5 countries of arrival were all European (and New Zealand) while today both China and India are in the Top 5 with Vietnam and the Philippines not far behind.

While the population has increased by 51% since 1984, the workforce has increased by 81%. Three decades ago the average full time worker took home just under $19,000 per year in a time when the average house price was less than $150,000. Today annual earnings exceed $73,000 with the average house price in most capital cities exceeding $520,000. From an employment perspective, the Australian workforce has transitioned from industrial in 1984 to professional today. The largest industries by workforce were all industrial in 1984 while today professional, scientific, technical, IT and the financial sectors make up the biggest employers along with mining and utilities.

In 1984 almost 2 in 3 Australians were married while today less than half are. And the “never married” proportion has increased from 1 in 4 to 1 in 3. From a religious perspective, Christianity is still the religion of more than 3 in 5 Australians, down from 3 in 4 in 1984. Meanwhile the “no religion” proportion has doubled and the “religion other than Christianity” numbers have increased from 265,600 to 1.68 million today.

In addition to these demographic changes, the shifts in our national identity are significant. Certainly the old affections run deep however there is a recognition of Australia as a cultural hub, a technology exporter, a fashion destination, a small business nation and a nation hosting iconic events.

It seems that Australians are comfortable in their own skin- embracing of this sunburnt country with all its iconic landmarks, yet proud of the cultural achievements and our diverse cities. There’s an understated confidence that welcomes the world to this unique landscape, yet has the posture to proudly list off our cultural achievements.

There is a depth to our reflections on 21st Century Australia. The iconic language and Australiana is retained and reinterpreted with a new sophistication, and without the cringe. Our cultural identity is also being interpreted beyond the beach or sport. Multiculturalism has come of age in Australia. You can tell because there is little self consciousness and even less tokenism expressed. Rather the cultural mix is in our national DNA, it’s part of our lifestyle- it’s who we are. The fact that more than 1 in 4 of us weren’t born here seems unremarkable- as though it has always been thus. Many comments celebrated the richness of our lifestyle that comes through the input of so many cultures.

Amidst massive national and global change, the Aussie spirit is alive and growing in the 21st Century. What it means to be Australian has morphed to meet the challenges and diversity of our changing times. Australians hold strongly to an identity and “Aussie values” yet these are more sophisticated and mature, and represent our place in a world of global interactions.

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