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.