Within the next 20 years, there will be over one million Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Australia.
13 Nov 2013 - 5:11 PM  UPDATED 13 Nov 2013 - 6:31 PM

A new report from the Australian National University's Nicholas Biddle has attributed this rapid growth in the Indigenous population to several factors.

"When you have quiet high rates of intermarriage between non indigenous men and indigenous women, or vice versa, and those kids are identified as being Indigenous, then there's an additional contribution to growth of the population. So you have high rates of fertility and high rates of intermarriage which leads to a rapidly growing population," says Mr Biddle.

Listen: Figures show a fast-growing Indigenous population

As well as growing to 3.9 per cent of the general population by 2033, the study predicts that the Indigenous population will age and become more urbanised. 

"When you go from a relatively young age structure to a relatively old age structure, what you find is that in the middle you have a high number of people that are of prime working age that agree and are willing to, or able to, support a greater number of dependents," says Mr Biddle.

However, this rapid growth in Indigenous population may produce long-term financial effects for disadvantaged communities.

"What you have is a population that has probably fewer financial savings than the rest of the Australian population, and therefore less able to support themselves in retirement compared to the rest of Australian populations," says Mr Biddle.

As a result of urbanisation, maintaining access to culture and traditional practices may also become a challenge for Aboriginal people living in remote communities.

"On the plus side you have more people living in areas where services are more readily available and also where jobs are available, but on the other hand, other research done by us and others has shown that in urban areas it's that little bit harder to maintain certain aspects of Indigenous culture and certain aspects of Indigenous language," Mr Biddle says.

Certain regions, in particular the eastern Queensland towns of Rockhampton, Cairns, Mackay and Townsville are tipped to host the biggest growths of Indigenous people at a rate close to 3 per cent per annum.