The Rise and Rise of Australia’s Population

Monday, October 30, 2017

Australia has increased its population by one third in the last 20 years, from 18.5 million in 1997 to 24.7 million people currently. But more remarkable is that this record population growth has exceeded all forecasts. 

In 1998, the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicted that, based on low-growth assumptions, Australia’s population would reach 23.5 million people in 2051, a benchmark it went on to achieve in July 2014. The mid-growth forecast of 24.9 million people by 2051 will be reached in the middle of next year, 33 years early! The upper end forecast of 26.4 million, based on high-growth assumptions, will be reached in mid-2021, less than four years away.

What has caused such population growth?

The current growth patterns of Australia will lead us to a population of 38 million by 2051, around 12 million higher than even the high-ball forecasts of the late 1990’s. It’s not that the calculations were wrong, it’s that migration policy changes as well as longevity increases and a solid birth rate have defied the trends that were evident twenty years ago.

Back then it was assumed that the total fertility rate (babies per woman in a lifetime) would remain low. However, today’s TFR of 1.81 is above even the highest assumption allowed for in the 1990’s of 1.75.

It was also thought that life expectancy at birth would hit a high of 82 for males and 86 for females by 2051. However, current life expectancy is already closing in on 81 for males and 85 for females and will reach these 2051 targets decades early.

Net Overseas Migration the biggest growth factor

The biggest growth factor that has blown out previous population modelling has been the rise and rise of Australia’s net overseas migration. In 1998 it was thought that it would grow our population annually by around 70,00, or at the most, 90,000. In the last 12 months, Australia has added 231,900 through net migration which is more than 2.5 times even the high-forecast of two decades ago.

Expected growth for our major cities

The expectations for our largest cities back in this era were also well below what has eventuated. This 1998 report expected Melbourne to reach a population of between 3.6 and 4.5 million by 2051. It is currently well above this range at 4.8 million. Sydney was predicted to reach between 4.7 and 6.2 million by the middle of this century. It is currently around 5.1 million and will reach the higher forecast within a decade, 23 years early.

Australia's population growth among the highest in the developed world

While the late 1990’s may not seem like that long ago- John Howard was Prime Minister and Bill Clinton was the US President, the last two decades have seen significant shifts in our demographic trends. Back then, slowing population growth was responded to with policy changes like the baby bonus and efforts to increase overseas migration. Australia’s population growth is now one of the highest in the developed world. 

We have added 390,000 people to our population in the last 12 months, which is like adding three cities the size of Darwin to our population each year. Sydney is now home to more people than the whole country of New Zealand. Speaking of which, New Zealand, back in 1998 was expected to reach 4.7 million in 2050- its population currently exceeds 4.8 million. Melbourne is growing even faster and rather than having 1.7 million fewer people than Sydney in 2051 as was predicted, it will likely overtake Sydney to be Australia’s largest city by this year.

Lessons to be learnt

The lesson for policy makers, urban planners and governments alike, is to keep a close eye on the population forecasts and plan early for the growth that is being experienced so that our cities are not left short of infrastructure. While population growth can’t realistically be stopped, it must be better planned for and managed to ensure the Australian lifestyle continues. And when in doubt, assume the higher growth forecasts not the lower ones. I’m yet to see an Australian population forecast that needs adjusting down.

Mark McCrindle, Demographer and Social Researcher

Why storytelling is so powerful in this digital era

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ashley Fell is a social researcher, keynote speaker and head of Communications at McCrindle. In her recent TED talk on The Visual Mind; Why storytelling is so powerful in this digital era, Ashley elaborates on the power of stories on our mind, and how to use them to communicate data-rich stories.

Communication has never been as important as it is today, because so much of our world is changing. We live in a world where our learning has changed. Where our interaction and how we ‘share’ has changed. Where even the concept of a story, has changed.

We are living in an age of digital disruption, in what we call 'the great screenage'. Where we now spend more time on our devices, than we ever have before. 

We live in technologically integrated times, where our attention spans are short. In times of message saturation and information overload, if you have important data to communicate, it is harder than ever to cut through the noise. 

The key to unlocking effective cut-through, is in an understanding of how the brain works.

For we know the brain is wired to processes visual imagery. When we look at how the brain retains information, words are processed by our short term memory, whereas visuals go directly into our long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.

And so the key is to present information in a way that appeals to the visual mind.

When we communicate data, our job is to move from the complex to the simple. Because the brain is more naturally wired to engage with the human, with the relatable, with a story than with just data, information and complexity alone. 

And when we think about engaging stories, whether they be novels, infographics or songs, they always have the four I’s.

Great stories create interest and capture our attention. Great stories instruct and communicate meaning. Great stories involve us. And importantly, a great story inspires. It connects not just with the eyes of the head but with the eyes of the heart.

We know the mind looks for direction and coherency. It doesn’t respond to ambiguity. And so as researchers, we navigate spreadsheets and find the intrigue and interest in the data. We fill in the blanks and communicate through the use of infographics and visualised presentations. We believe research is at its best, when it tells a story. 

When we think about visuals that create interest and engage our minds, there are three key elements.

The first is colour. Our eyes and our minds are drawn to colour. The second is picture. The content of the visual. And the third is movement. Motion and movement attract and retain our attention. That is why YouTube is so popular. For why would we read it, when we can watch it?

And so when you next have a story to tell, remember that the mind responds to visuals. That we are wired to engage and retain information visually. And that creating interest ad intrigue, especially when you are communicating data, has never been more important than in the great screenage we are living in today. 


Ashley Fell is a social researcher, TEDx speaker and Head of Communications at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a trends analyst and media commentator she understands how to effectively communicate across diverse audiences.

From her experience in managing media relations, social media platforms and content creation, Ashley advises on how to achieve cut through in message-saturated times. She is an expert in how to communicate across generational barriers.

Download Ashley's Professional Speakers Pack here and see the McCrindle Speakers professional presenter showreel here

Contact us today to book Ashley for your next event. 

Welcome to Australia Street 2017

Monday, July 03, 2017

If you lived on an average sized street in Australia comprised of 100 households, and these households were exactly representative of the Australian population, did you know that in a year, your street would see 1.2 marriages, 1.7 deaths and 3.3 births? These 100 households comprise 260 people, 49 dogs and 39 cats! There are 180 cars owned on the street, which each drive, on average, 14,000 kilometres each year.

We are delighted to present the brand new Australia Street infographic based on the just-released census data.

Welcome to Australia Street.

About Research Visualisation

In a world of big data, we’re for visual data. We believe in the democratisation of information, and 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 we know what will communicate, and how to best engage. 

Whether you’re looking to conduct research from scratch, or if you have existing data that you want to bring to life – get in touch with the McCrindle team.

Event Recap: Making sense of the census

Thursday, June 29, 2017

It was an eventful morning at the McCrindle office this morning as we welcomed local businesses who were interested in getting up to date with the just-released census data and what it means for their organisation. The morning kicked off with a delightful breakfast to welcome our guests and some time for networking.

After a warm welcome from our MC, Ashley Fell, Mark McCrindle talked through the census data and introduced our brand-new infographic based on the newest numbers from the 2016 Census.

Next it was over to our Director of Research, Eliane Miles, who showed us what the data means for us and how to practically use the ABS website and the tools within the site.

We’d like to say a big thank you to the attendees who made this a successful census briefing. Be sure to look out for our future events taking place in Sydney! If you're interested in having one our McCrindle Speakers present at your next event, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Faith and Belief in Australia

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Faith and Belief in Australia Report is being launched today. A survey of 1,024 Australians shows that religion in Australia is not dead. 

Two in three identify with a religion or spirituality
More than two in three Australians (68%) follow a religion or have spiritual beliefs. Of those that do, almost half (47%) remain committed to the religion of their upbringing. The number of Australians who do not identify with a religion or spiritual belief, however, is on the rise with almost one in three (32%) not identifying with a religion. This study replicated the ABS Census question, but added in an option for ‘spiritual but not religious’. This had a response rate of 14% among Australians nationally, and the Christianity grouping was 45% (down from 61% in the 2011 Census).

More than half of Australians (52%) are open to changing their religious views given the right circumstances and evidence. Younger Australians are more open to changing their current religious views than older generations.

Religion and spirituality a popular topic of conversation
When gathering with friends, more than half of Australians (55%) often or occasionally talk about religion or spirituality. Generation Z (65%) are the most comfortable talking the topic, while the Baby Boomers are the least with 51% never talking about it with their friends.

A genuine faith the greatest attraction to a religion or spirituality
Observing people with genuine faith is the greatest attraction to investigating spirituality. Second is experiencing personal trauma or a significant life change. On the inverse, the top repellent to Australians investigating is public figures or celebrities who are examples of that faith. This is followed by miraculous stories of healings or supernatural occurrences.

Perceptions of Christianity 
Australians most value Christian organisations for their work with those in need, specifically looking after people who are homeless, offering financial assistance/food relief programs and providing disaster relief (74%, 72% and 69% respectively).  8% of Australian adults (1.5 million) do not know any Christians, while for Generation Y this is almost one in ten. One in 29 Australians have never heard of Jesus.

Research Launch
The full Faith and Belief in Australia research will be launched on Tuesday 9th May at an event in Sydney (register here) and Wednesday 10th May in Melbourne (register here). 

Download the full report here

Australia's Cooking Landscape for Hello Fresh [Case Study]

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

We were delighted to partner with Hello Fresh in conducting new research into Australians weeknight cooking behaviours and decision-making processes.

The Report

These insights are explored in the thought leadership report titled Australia’s Cooking Landscape, which reveals the research insights into Australian weeknight cooking behaviours and decision-making processes.

The full report is available for download here.

The Infographic

The key insights have been pulled together in the infographic below, titled A week in the life of cooks in the Aussie home and reveals how:

  • Australians value homemade meals,
  • Many find it difficult to find time to plan for their weekly meals,
  • Despite being busy and time poor, many Australians still allocate time in their week to spend at the grocery story,
  • Not only are Australians finding it stressful cooking for their household, but ‘food inspiration can sometimes create overwhelming expectations’, and
  • Australians have a strong desire to be more adventurous in the kitchen and to create a variety of healthy weeknight dinners.


For more information on our research and visualisation services, please feel free to check out our Research Pack, or get in touch!

P: 02 8824 3422


Housing Affordability in NSW [infographic]

Monday, January 30, 2017

We’ve all heard about the difficulty of buying into the housing market in recent times and the subsequent decreases in home ownership rates (in NSW, from 68% in 2004 to 63% in 2014). With less people able to afford a home in the current market, there have been increases in the numbers of people looking to rent in New South Wales, and particularly Sydney.

We were delighted to be commissioned by Churches Housing and Shelter NSW to uncover the story of rental unaffordability in New South Wales. Through this research, we discovered that finding an available, affordable rental property is becoming increasingly difficult, particularly for those in the bottom 20% of income earners.

The decrease in the availability of rental properties over the last decade or so, has been influenced by a number of factors. Rental prices have increased due to the increased numbers of people looking to rent, and in past decades, rental prices have grown faster than income.

The infographic particularly highlights the difficulties for the bottom 40% of income earners in looking for appropriate rental properties. The term ‘rental stress’ is used to describe those in the bottom 40% who are spending over 30% of their income in housing costs. In 2013-14 NSW had the highest proportion of low income households experiencing rental stress, at 76% (compared to 68% nationally). For these households, rental stress can impact on other areas of life, including health care, schooling, diet and in the worst case can sometimes lead to homelessness. 

Merry Christmas from McCrindle!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas Australia! Although New Zealand just beats us to experience Christmas, we are among the first 1% of the world to usher in Christmas Day. And a very special shout out to the 302,950 Australian newborn Gen Alpha Oliver's and Charlotte's (#1 baby names for 2015) and their families who will be celebrating their first Christmas this year.

We hope you enjoy unwrapping the experiences, technological and clothing gifts you are hoping for this year. Enjoy hand writing your Christmas cards, which we know more Australians prefer than sending an E-Card, and unwrapping presents from your spouse/partner and mums, who have been dubbed the best Christmas gift givers!

From all of us at McCrindle we hope you enjoy the infographic we have put together, and that amidst the busyness of the season you have time to connect with family and friends, reflect on the Christmas story and enjoy the many things that make this country great.

Have a Merry Christmas, a fantastic 2017 and we hope you don't receive too many unwanted gifts from your extended family members!

- The McCrindle Team

McCrindle Research Pack Update

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

At McCrindle we are engaged by some of the leading brands and most effective organisations across Australia and internationally to help them understand the ever-changing external environment in which they operate, and to assist them in identifying and responding to the key trends.

Our forecasts identify trends, our strategy informs decisions, and our research futureproofs organisations. In our most recent Research Pack you can find out information on what we do and how we do it. The pack provides an outline of our research focus, tools, output, solutions and research rooms. Additionally, the pack also includes information on our research-based communication services including media commentary and our McCrindle Speakers team, as well as an overview of our clients and case studies.

To find out more about what we do and the services we offer, check out our most recent Research Pack!

Contact us

If you have any research or speaking enquiries, please feel free to get in contact us via:


P: 02 8824 3422

2016 Australian Communities Forum Recap

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Last Thursday, McCrindle Research and R2L&Associates were proud to present the Sydney Australian Communities Forum (ACF) at Customs House in Sydney. The ACF featured 15 brilliant speakers and 4 jam-packed sessions.


We began the day with tea and coffee on arrival before kicking off our first session, which focused on the research results from the Australian Communities Trends Report into Australia's not-for-profit sector. Before we launched into the findings we received a warm welcome from the honourable Catherine Cusack MLC, Parliamentary secretary to the Premier of NSW, and Professor Kerryn Phelps AM, Deputy Lord Mayor on behalf of our principal event sponsor, the City of Sydney.

SESSION 1 - introduction

Mark McCrindle opened Session 1 with an introduction to Australia's generational landscape and gave a snapshot of the key factors influencing Australian communities and some surprising findings from the just-completed Australian Communities Report. Mark provided an overview of giving in Australia, indicating that 4 in 5 Australians give financially to charities / not-for-profits, and that 1 in 4 give at least once a month.

McCrindle Team Leader of Analytics, Annie Phillips continued to share about the quantitative insights from the research, identifying the top 7 causes Australians support (Children's charities, medical research, animal welfare, disaster response in Australia, disability, homelessness and mental health), the 5 charity essentials and the top communication channels. Annie also provided an explanation of the Net Promotor Score (29) and Net Culture Score (21) for the sector, which were both very high.

Sophie Rention, Research Executive at McCrindle then communicated some of the key qualitative findings from the Australian Communities Trends Report. Sophie highlighted the key blockers (e.g. complex giving process) and enablers (e.g. personal connection) to charitable giving for Australians, as well as the next steps for charities including creating multi-tiered levels of engagement, community building, effective communication of results and fun and engaging experiences. 

We then heard from John Rose, principal at R2L&Associates about what this research means for community organisations and how they can best respond to the findings. In his insights and applications John reminded our delegates that in the midst of changes in the marketplace, trust and relevance is essential. John then presented 5 key issues for charities to keep in mind when engaging with the ever-changing supporter which included aligning, defining, communicating, engaging and leading.

Each of our delegates also received a copy of The Australian Communities Trends Infographic which contains the top line findings from the national study into Australian giving and how charities can engage.


SESSION 2 - keynotes

After a networking break over morning tea Eliane Miles, Research Director at McCrindle shared an engaging keynote presentation on Leading teams and managing change in transformative times. In the post linear, post literate and post logical workforce, Eliane reminded us that to engage and inspire our workplaces we need to ensure a culture of contribution, challenge and celebration within our teams. To attract and retain, to lead and inspire, we need to cultivate authenticity. 

Our next keynote, Josh Hawkins emphasised the importance of creativity in social media and marketing campaigns. Josh showed us that creative and fun campaigns are the ones that get cut through. Josh also inspired us to be authentic with our marketing and leadership to under 30's. Through humour, engaging videos and key takeaways, Josh's presentation reminded us that when you "Give someone a task you'll get what you ask for". But when you "Give them a vision you'll get more than you could ever ask for". 

Our final keynote speaker before lunch was Ivan Motley, found of .id The Population Experts. Specialising in using data to inform decisions and shape the future, Ivan and his team talked us through how analytics can shape the quality of education, housing, health, the environment and education. Using some practical case studies, the id. team showed us why we should be using local data to understand our communities, and how information and data can help transform communities.

SESSION 3 - streams

Stream 1: Understanding Australian Communities

In this stream Geoff Brailey, Research Executive at McCrindle began by giving an overview of the next generation of volunteers and donors, and tips on how to engage and motivate them. This was followed by Nic Bolto who encouraged us to do the hard work as leaders and how to effectively implement insights in organisations. Our last stream speaker for this session was James Ward, a Director at NBRS Architecture who showed us, through a case study, how understanding spaces and building communities can help to improve people's lives.

Stream 2: Engaging Australian Communities

In Stream 2, McCrindle Team Leader of Communications Ashley McKenzie began this session by giving practical tips and insights on how to communicate complex data in message saturated times. Following on was Salvation Army officer Bryce Davies who shared how The Salvation Army build community in areas of social challenge by creating communities focused on respect, encouragement and belonging. Our final stream 2 speaker Greg Low, co-founder of R2L&Associates gave us five essentials to make your next marketing or fundraising campaign thrive.


Following afternoon tea and some great networking, we gathered back together to hear from our last two speakers, Caitlin Barrett from Love Mercy and Andy Gourley from Red Frogs. 

Caitlin Barrett, CEO of the Love Mercy Foundation kicked off our afternoon session by telling us the engaging story of how Love Mercy was founded after Australian Olympian met Ugandan Olympian and former child soldier Julius Achon. After sharing the vision and mission of Love Mercy, Caitlin shared how they engage the community through telling personal stories, the importance of finding the right audience for the right story and telling the right details to provide an experience.  

Our last speaker for the day was Andy Gourley, founder and director of Red Frogs Australia. After having founded Red Frogs in 1997, Red Frogs is now the largest support network in Australia for Schoolies, festivals and universities. Through the use of engaging stories and hard-hitting realities, Andy effectively communicated how Red Frogs was founded and the crucial role they play in safeguarding vulnerable young people at events like Schoolies and festivals.  

We would like to thank all of our speakers and delegates for making the 2016 Australian Communities Forum a fantastic event. A big thank you to our sponsors, The City of Sydney, Pro Bono Australia, Hope 103.2 and ConnectingUp as well for your support in making this event happen.

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