As Australia’s population ticks over to 23 million people, we take a look at what is the make-up of the Australia he or she will be joining.
By
Helen Davidson

23 Apr 2013 - 7:01 PM  UPDATED 29 Aug 2013 - 2:21 PM

Sometime tonight Australia's population will tick over to 23 million people. It's a milestone, but what is the make-up of the Australia he or she will be joining?

The population of Australia is increasing at a rapid rate. However while the data shows we are a growing nation, it also shows we are an ageing one.

Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith has referred to Australia's population growth as an 'ongoing' disaster' saying the federal government needs to acknowledge that Australia cannot sustain 'perpetual growth in a finite world'.

Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics is in favour of a bigger Australia, saying the country needs it to sustain its economic growth.

What do you think? Tell us here.

Our growth is more due to increasing life expectancy and net migration rather than new births, resulting in an ageing population. The median age of 37 is the same as in 2006 but it has increased by 4.7 years over the last two decades.

The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous is still high though -- the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is 21, an increase of just one year since the previous 2006 census.

Earlier this month, the ABS released data revealing the average Australian is a 37-year-old married mother of two, working in retail and living in the suburbs of a major city.

She was born in Australia, and so were both her parents.

It's a big change from 50 years ago. The “average” Australian back then was a 29-year-old male clerk.

However just because it's the average, it doesn't mean it's the norm.

So, as we welcome the Aussie number of 23,000,000, let's take a look at just who we are.

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, by the end of September 2012, Australia's population had grown by 1.7 per cent.

Western Australia was the fastest growing state at 3.4 per cent. Tasmania lagged behind, with a 0.1 per cent growth.

Compare this to the rate of population increase for the whole world in 2011 (1.1 per cent) and you can see we are above average.

Most of our population increase (60 per cent of it) was due to net overseas migration. This is the highest annual increase in overseas migration in almost five years.

At 30 June, 2011 (a different data by the Census) it was estimated that 27 per cent of the resident population was born overseas, with the largest group coming from the United Kingdom, followed by New Zealand.

The fastest growing group of migrants came from Nepal, followed by Sudan, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

At the end of March 2013, both the rate of births and deaths had increased over the past year - by 2.7 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.

Data from the 2011 Census tell us that almost 70 per cent of people living in Australia were born in Australia.

Some 84.9 per cent of respondents said they were Australian citizens, while 9.1 per cent were not, with a further 6 per cent not stating.

And 2.4 per cent identified themselves as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Less than 0.1 per cent (21,205 people) identified themselves as both.

Over 3.9 million people in Australia (18.2 per cent) speak a language other than English.
27.6 per cent of these 3.9 million were born in Australia.

Of those who speak a language other than English (LOTE speakers), 71.5 per cent are Australian citizens.

Half of all respondents said both their parents were born in Australia, 32 per cent said neither parent was, while 6.5 per cent had a foreign-born father and 4.6 per cent a foreign-born mother.

The largest demographic of the LOTE (Languages Other Than English) speaking population is younger than the population as a whole.

The biggest group for both males and females are aged 25-29. Within the whole of Australia's population, the largest age demographic (again for both genders) is 40-44.

Around one in four people identify themselves as Western Catholic -- no matter what language is spoken.

But 21.8 per cent of all respondents identified themselves as “with no religion”, higher than the proportion of LOTE speakers (14.7 per cent).

The third highest religious identifications for all respondents and LOTE speakers was Anglican Church of Australia and Islam, respectively.

Now let's take a look at recently arrived members of the Australian population.

In November 2010, there were 719,600 recent migrants, 91 per cent of whom were between the ages of 15 and 44.

For the ABS data, a recent migrant is defined as someone who arrived in the last ten years and obtained permanent resident status.

The majority (76 per cent) were born in countries where the main language spoken was not English.

With all this information we can still only try to guess the situation number 23 million might be born into.

We can say the child is more likely to be born a boy, and to Australian-born parents, but it's not possible to pinpoint exactly who they are, says ABS Director of Demography Bjorn Jarvis.

We won't even know until later this year whether they were even born today. The projection is close, but it's a projection, and they are "never perfect," says Mr Jarvis.

"The challenge in projecting the population over doing the weather -- it's easier for the Bureau of Meteorology."

This will be close to what the actual 23 million is, give or take a little bit of time."