NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ClosingTheGap : With our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia projected to reach 1 million by 2028 @ABSStats: Will our ACCHO’s be funded and resourced to manage this growth ?

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia is projected to reach 1 million by 2028, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

These projections are based on a series of assumptions of future levels of fertility, paternity, mortality and internal migration, which are guided by recent population trends.

ABS Demography Director, Beidar Cho, said: “Based on medium series, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia is projected to grow by 2.0 per cent per year to reach around 1,072,000 people by 2031.

“This compares with a projected annual growth rate of 1.5 per cent for the total Australian population over the same period.

“Although younger than the general population, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia is ageing.

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 65 years and over is projected to double from 4 per cent in 2016 to 8 per cent in 2031.”

Ms Cho added: “The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations in all states and territories are projected to continue to grow, although at varying rates.”

Based on medium series, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population living in Major Cities is projected to grow by 2.5 per cent, compared with 2.0 per cent in Inner and Outer Regional Areas and 0.7 per cent in Remote and Very Remote Areas.

Further details are available in Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 to 2031 (cat. no. 3238.0).

Size and growth

In 2016, there were 798,400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 3.3% of the total Australian population.

Between 2006 and 2016, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population increased by 2.2% (from 640,000 people) per year on average, compared with 1.6% for the total Australian population. 

By 2031, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is projected to increase to between 1,054,600 people (low series) and 1,100,400 people (high series) at an average annual growth rate of between 1.9% and 2.2% per year. In comparison, the average annual growth rate of the total Australian population is projected to be between 1.3% and 1.7% per year over the same period (Population Projections, Australia, 2017 (base) to 2066 (cat. no. 3222.0)).

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia is projected to reach one million people by 2027 (high series) and by 2028 (medium and low series).

Graph Image for Graph 1 - Estimated and projected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, 2016 to 2031

Natural increase

At the national level any growth in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is entirely due to natural increase as net overseas migration is assumed to be zero.

Although decreasing fertility rates are assumed, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births is projected to increase over the projection period. This is due to the increase in the number of women of child-bearing ages over the projection period as well as the assumption of increasing paternity rates.

As a result:

  • births are projected to increase from 18,970 in 2017 (Series B), to between 22,150 and 28,050 in 2031
  • deaths are projected to increase from 3,080 in 2017 (Series B), to between 3,900 and 4,540 in 2031
  • natural increase remains consistently high, increasing from 15,890 in 2017 (Series B) to between 17,620 and 24,150 in 2031.

POPULATION STRUCTURE

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has a relatively young age structure with a median age of 22.9 years in 2016 (37.8 years for the Non-Indigenous population).

  • in 2006 the median age was 21.2 years
  • by 2031 the median age is projected to be between 25.7 and 26.7 years.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is projected to increase across all age groups between 2016 and 2031.

People aged 0–14 years

The number of children (0–14 years) is 274,300 in 2016. This is projected to:

  • increase to between 309,800 and 350,900 in 2031
  • decrease as a proportion of the population, from 34.4% in 2016 to between 29.4% and 31.9% in 2031.

People aged 15–64 years

The number of people aged 15–64 years is 490,000 in 2016. This is projected to:

  • increase to between 658,200 and 660,000 in 2031
  • remain stable as a proportion of the population, from 61.4% in 2016 to between 60.0% and 62.4% in 2031.

People aged 65 years and over

The number of people aged 65 years and over is 34,000 in 2016. This is projected to:

  • increase to between 86,500 and 89,600 in 2031
  • increase as a proportion of the population, from 4.3% in 2016 to between 8.1% and 8.2% in 2031.

REMOTENESS AREAS AND INDIGENOUS REGIONS

In 2016, there were 298,400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people residing in Major Cities, followed by 351,200 in Inner and Outer Regional areas and 148,700 in Remote and Very Remote areas.

By 2031, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is projected to increase to between:

  • 424,700 people (low series) and 443,700 people (high series) in Major Cities, at an average annual growth rate of between 2.4% and 2.7% per year
  • 467,500 people (low series) and 488,300 people (high series) in Inner and Outer Regional areas, at an average annual growth rate of between 1.9% and 2.2% per year
  • 162,400 people (low series) and 168,400 people (high series) in Remote and Very Remote areas, at an average annual growth rate of between 0.6% and 0.8% per year.
Table 1: ESTIMATED AND PROJECTED ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER POPULATION(a), Remoteness Areas, 2006 – 2031

2006
2016
2031 (SERIES A)
2031 (SERIES B)
2031 (SERIES C)
no.
no.
no.
Growth rate (%)(b)
no.
Growth rate (%)(b)
no.
Growth rate (%)(b)

Major Cities
242,987
298 430
443,739
2.7
431,982
2.5
424,711
2.4
Inner and Outer Regional
280,477
351 206
488,254
2.2
475,383
2.0
467,459
1.9
Remote and Very Remote
116,572
148 729
168,434
0.8
164,506
0.7
162,399
0.6
Australia(c)
640,036
798 365
1 100 427
2.2
1 071 871
2.0
1 054 569
1.9

(a) Estimates and projections based on the 2016 Census.
(b) Average annual growth rate for the period 2016 to 2031.
(c) Includes Other Territories.

Population share

Based on all three series:

  • Inner and Outer Regional areas are projected to continue to have the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population with their share remaining stable at 44% in both 2016 and 2031
  • Major Cities share is projected to increase from 37% in 2016 to 40% in 2031
  • Remote and Very Remote areas share is projected to decrease from 19% in 2016 to 15% in 2031.

INDIGENOUS REGIONS

All three series project continuing population growth in the majority of Indigenous Regions between 2016 and 2031:

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the Australian Capital Territory is projected to be the fastest growing of all Indigenous regions, with an average annual growth rate of between 2.7% and 3.0% per year. This is followed by:

  • Brisbane (between 2.6% and 2.9%)
  • Victoria, excluding Melbourne (between 2.4% and 2.8%).

Katherine is the only Indigenous region where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is projected to decrease between 2016 and 2031. This can be attributed to assumed net migration loss (see Assumptions chapter, Table 15).

Table 2: ESTIMATED AND PROJECTED ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER POPULATION(a), Indigenous Regions, 2016 – 2031

2016
2031 (SERIES A)
2031 (SERIES B)
2031 (SERIES C)
no.
no.
Growth rate (%)(b)
no.
Growth rate (%)(b)
no.
Growth rate (%)(b)

Dubbo
15 962
20 567
1.7
19 979
1.5
19 619
1.4
North-Eastern NSW
25 475
33 737
1.9
32 808
1.7
32 223
1.6
North-Western NSW
9 848
10 854
0.7
10 542
0.5
10 346
0.3
NSW Central and North Coast
85 169
123 722
2.5
120 367
2.3
118 120
2.2
Riverina – Orange
30 830
43 415
2.3
42 237
2.1
41 443
2.0
South-Eastern NSW
16 716
23 454
2.3
22 832
2.1
22 407
2.0
Sydney – Wollongong
81 685
108 893
1.9
106 006
1.8
104 115
1.6
Melbourne
28 584
41 896
2.6
40 845
2.4
40 114
2.3
Victoria exc. Melbourne
29 183
44 090
2.8
42 761
2.6
41 879
2.4
Brisbane
84 454
129 835
2.9
126 482
2.7
124 313
2.6
Cairns – Atherton
30 050
40 148
2.0
39 064
1.8
38 416
1.7
Cape York
10 579
13 848
1.8
13 469
1.6
13 228
1.5
Mount Isa
9 003
9 518
0.4
9 253
0.2
9 085
0.1
Rockhampton
26 941
36 468
2.0
35 528
1.9
34 941
1.7
Toowoomba – Roma
21 350
28 398
1.9
27 648
1.7
27 210
1.6
Torres Strait
7 403
8 378
0.8
8 156
0.6
8 027
0.5
Townsville – Mackay
31 496
46 046
2.6
44 795
2.4
44 072
2.3
Adelaide
30 124
44 711
2.7
43 578
2.5
42 867
2.4
Port Augusta
9 403
11 171
1.2
10 906
1.0
10 751
0.9
Port Lincoln – Ceduna
2 738
2 881
0.3
2 822
0.2
2 772
0.1
Broome
6 057
7 909
1.8
7 706
1.6
7 597
1.5
Geraldton
8 502
10 267
1.3
10 020
1.1
9 857
1.0
Kalgoorlie
7 510
10 179
2.0
9 937
1.9
9 809
1.8
Kununurra
6 040
6 932
0.9
6 760
0.8
6 643
0.6
Perth
38 919
57 899
2.7
56 463
2.5
55 635
2.4
South Hedland
11 800
16 260
2.2
15 870
2.0
15 669
1.9
South-Western WA
15 631
21 009
2.0
20 539
1.8
20 264
1.7
West Kimberly
6 053
7 789
1.7
7 600
1.5
7 506
1.4
Tasmania
28 537
38 113
1.9
37 089
1.8
36 584
1.7
Alice Springs
6 807
7 548
0.7
7 368
0.5
7 315
0.5
Apatula
10 191
12 513
1.4
12 242
1.2
12 158
1.2
Darwin
18 309
22 044
1.2
21 574
1.1
21 385
1.0
Jabiru – Tiwi
12 425
16 720
2.0
16 411
1.9
16 324
1.8
Katherine
11 063
10 105
-0.6
9 865
-0.8
9 804
-0.8
Nhulunbuy
11 377
16 370
2.5
16 020
2.3
15 957
2.3
Tennant Creek
4 374
4 778
0.6
4 690
0.5
4 645
0.4
Australian Capital Territory
7 513
11 638
3.0
11 324
2.8
11 155
2.7
Australia(c)
798 365
1 100 427
2.2
1 071 871
2.0
1 054 569
1.9

(a) Estimate and projections based on the 2016 Census.
(b) Average annual growth rate for the period 2016 to 2031.

(c) Includes Other Territories.

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