1 November 2004

Short-term movements and Australia’s population – a snapshot

On 1 November 2004 at 14:36:07 (Canberra time), the resident population of Australia was projected to be 20,206,802.

  • This projection [from ABS website] is based on the estimated resident population at 31 March 2004 and assumes growth since then of:
  • one birth every 2 minutes and 5 seconds,
  • one death every 3 minutes and 55 seconds,
  • a net gain of one international migrant every 4 minutes and 6 seconds leading to
  • an overall total population increase of one person every 2 minutes and 8 seconds.
  • These assumptions are consistent with those used in Population Projections, Australia 2002 to 2101 (ABS Catalogue No. 3222.0, Series A).
  • Over 8 million people arrive in and depart from Australia each year. This movement includes permanent settlers, overseas visitors and Australian residents.

Short-term movements

  • Short-term stays include visits for study, holidays, conferences etc. and last for less than 12 months.
  • Arrivals of overseas visitors for short-term stays total around 4.8 million per annum.
  • Departures of Australian residents for short-term stays away total around 3.3 million per annum.

The chart below (Chart 1) shows arrivals and departures factored for length-of-stay, expressed in person years or Permanent Population Equivalent (PPE). The difference between the PPE for arrivals and departures is thus Net PPE. Net PPE is, in fact, the addition to Australia’s population as a result of short-term international movements.

Permanent Population Equivalent of Short-term movement.

(Source ABS Cat 3401.0)

Chart 1


Short-term movements have the capacity to add significantly to Australia’s human population (see Chart 2).

Net Permanent Population Equivalent.

(Source ABS Cat 3401.0)

Chart 2


Net Overseas Migration (NOM)

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publishes quarterly figures for net overseas migration (NOM), which is a measure of the net addition to Australia’s resident population. It consists of the difference between permanent and long-term arrivals and permanent and long-term departures, with an allowance for ‘category jumpers’ (those who change their travel plans). ‘Resident population’ includes permanent residents and long-term residents, but excludes short-stay visitors.
  • Long-term arrivals – include overseas visitors who intend to stay in Australia for 12 months or more (but not permanently) and Australian residents returning after an absence of 12 months or more.
  • Long-term departures – include Australian residents who intend to stay abroad for 12 months or more (but not permanently) and overseas visitors who stayed 12 months or more in Australia.
  • Net overseas migration has increased to historically high levels, (see Chart 3).

Net Overseas Migration.

(Source ABS Cat 3101.0)


Chart 3

Natural increase

  • Natural increase is the excess of births over deaths. Australia’s natural increase for the year ended June 2003 was 115,200
  • Births continue to outnumber deaths by approximately two to one, but the annual number of births is decreasing and the number of deaths is increasing. It is anticipated that annual births will equal deaths by around 2030.
  • Australia’s total fertility rate (the average number of children per woman) was 1.735 in 2002/03 (ABS Cat.3101.0, March Quarter, 2004).


Australia’s population increased in the 2002/2003 year by 240,500.

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