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Census 2016 - Summary of results


The Census of Population and Housing paints a picture of the society in which we live and, when compared with previous censuses, we can see how we have changed.

At August 9 2016, there were 23,401,892 people living in Australia, an increase of 8.8% when compared with 2011. New South Wales remains the most populous state, with 7,480,228 people counted, ahead of Victoria (5,926,624 people) and Queensland (4,703,193). However, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) experienced the largest population growth of any state or territory over the past five years, adding more than 40,000 new residents—an increase of 11.2%. This was followed by Victoria (10.7%) and Western Australia (10.5%). Tasmania had the smallest growth at 3.0%.

Table 1: Population by states and territories, 2011 and 2016 Census

States and territories 2011 2016 % change
NSW 6,917,656 7,480,228 8.1
Vic 5,354,039 5,926,624 10.7
Qld 4,332,737 4,703,193 8.6
SA 1,596,569 1,676,653 5.0
WA 2,239,171 2,474,410 10.5
Tas 495,351 509,965 3.0
NT 211,943 228,833 8.0
ACT 357,218 397,397 11.2
       
Australia 21,507,719 23,401,892 8.8

Source: ABS Time Series Profiles by States and Territories, 2016

Australians are getting older. In 1911, one in 25 people were aged 65 years and over. By 2011 this had decreased to one in seven people, dropping again to one in six in 2016. Tasmania is the oldest state with nearly one in five people aged 65 years and over. 

The median age in 2016 was 38 years, up from 37 years in 2011. Tasmania recorded Australia’s highest median age (42 years), ahead of South Australia (40 years) and the Northern Territory recorded the lowest median age at 32. Interestingly, the median age of those born in Asia was 35 years and for those born in Europe, 59 years. This trend is shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Age diversity of migrants, 2016 Census

 Census 2016 summary of results: European and Asian age

Source: ABS Time Series Profiles by States and Territories, 2016

The proportion of people who reported having Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin increased in 2016, accounting for 2.8 per cent of the population (649,171). Australia’s Indigenous population size has increased by 18.4% since 2011, and nearly doubled since 1996. For Indigenous Australians, median age continues to be considerably lower than the total population; however there has been a small increase, from 21 years (2011) to 23 years in 2016. Only one in 20 Indigenous Australians are aged 65 years or over—reflecting, in part, their lower life expectancy. The difference in age profile for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is clearly shown in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Age Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, 2016 Census

Census 2016 summary of results: Indigenous  

Source: ABS media release, 2016 Census of Population and Housing (27 June 2017)

Of all Australian residents, just over a quarter of the population (26.3% or 6,163,667 persons) said they were born overseas, with England (907,570) remaining the most common country of birth, followed by New Zealand (518,466). However, with China (509,555), India (455,389), and the Philippines (232,386) now all in the top five, the ABS has highlighted that for the first time in our history, the majority of people born overseas are now from Asia, not Europe.

By state, Western Australia had the highest proportion of overseas born (32.2%), followed by Victoria (28.4%) and New South Wales (27.7%) with Tasmania the lowest at 12.0%.

Table 2: The top five reported ancestries as a percentage of population, 2011 and 2016 Census

2011   2016
English 33.7   English 33.6
Australian 33.0   Australian 31.2
Irish 9.7   Irish 10.2
Scottish 8.3   Scottish 8.6
Italian 4.3   Chinese 5.2

Source: ABS Time Series Profiles, Australia, 2016

While we are becoming more diverse, we are also becoming (possibly) less religious. Christianity has been on the decline in Australia and ‘no religion’ has been on the rise: in 1966, 88.2% of the population recorded Christian, falling to 52.1% in 2016 (12,201,600). In 1966, less than 1% of the population reported ‘no religion’, this compares to 30.1% in 2016. It is important to note that the ordering of ‘no religion’ on the 2016 Census form may have had some impact on the results—in previous censuses it was listed last, however in 2016 it was listed first.

Figure 3: Proportion of Christian and no religion in Australia, 1966 to 2016

Census 2016 summary of results: Religion

Source: ABS media release, 2016 Census of Population and Housing (27 June 2017)

In regards to other religions, 2.6% of the population recorded Islam (2.2% in 2011), 2.4% identified as Buddhist (2.5% in 2011), 1.9% as Hindu (1.3% in 2011), 0.5% as Sikh (0.3% in 2011) and 0.4% as Jewish (down slightly from 0.5% in 2011).

Families come in many different shapes and sizes. In 2016, 44.7% of families were couple with children (44.6% in 2011), 37.8% were couple families with no children (the same as 2011) and single parent families accounted for 15.8% (down marginally from 15.9% in 2011). Lone person households increased from 1.9 million in 2011 to 2.0 million in 2016.

The median weekly personal income for Australia in 2016 was $662, up from $577 in 2011. By state and territory, the ACT reported the highest median personal income at $998 per week ($917 in 2011), followed by the Northern Territory ($871 up from $745 in 2011) and the lowest was Tasmania at $573 ($499 in 2011). These trends are shown in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Median total personal income, 2011 and 2016 Census

States and territories 2011 ($) 2016 ($)
ACT 917 998
NT 745 871
WA 662 724
NSW 561 664
Qld 587 660
Vic 561 644
SA 534 600
Tas 499 573
     
Australia 577 662

Source: ABS Community Profiles, 2011 and 2016

Over 25 years there has been a considerable change in home ownership in Australia. In 1991, 41.1% of households owned their homes outright; by 2016 this had dropped to 31.0%. Those who owned a home with a mortgage increased from 27.5% in 1991 to 34.5% in 2016. Households renting increased from 26.9% in 1991 to 30.9% in 2016.

Median monthly mortgage repayments in 2016 were $1,755 ($1,800 in 2011) with median repayments the highest in Darwin, Canberra, Sydney and Perth (all were $2,000 per month or greater). Weekly rental repayments increased from $285 in 2011 to $335 in 2016, with the same four cities having the highest median rental repayment.

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