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3412.0 - Migration, Australia, 2008-09 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/07/2010   
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Background

Net overseas migration is one component of population change used to estimate the Australian resident population each quarter, as are births and deaths. The ABS bases ERP on the concept of usual residence in Australia. For the purposes of NOM and therefore ERP, a person is regarded as a usual resident if they have been (or were expected to be) residing in Australia for a period of 12 months or more. As such, the ERP includes all people, regardless of nationality, citizenship or legal status, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families.

The quarterly peaks and troughs experienced in Australia's population growth are clearly driven by NOM, making it the major contributor to quarterly change in the ERP. In recent years, many factors have presented challenges in accurately estimating NOM, including:

  • increasing volumes of international movements across Australia's borders. For example, in 2009, there were 24.7 million border crossings, up 56% since 1999;
  • changes to the composition of international visitors and their duration of stay behaviour, such as that of international students;
  • international travel patterns of Australian residents (including duration and frequency of travel); and
  • more recently, changes in traveller behaviour due to the global financial crisis (GFC).

Each year, there are more than 20 million overseas arrivals and departures crossing Australia's borders, but the NOM is only about 1% of this figure. Accuracy in the measurement of NOM is crucial in determining accurate ERP for each of the states and territories each quarter. Currently, NOM accounts for well over half of Australia's population growth (65% for year ended 30 June 2009).


Clarification of data sources used to analyse overseas migration.

There are number of data sources that can be used in the analysis of overseas migration. However, there are three main data sources that can be often confused on the measurement of the event of overseas migration. They include:
  • the number of travellers from the net overseas migration (NOM) collection;
  • the number of movements from the overseas arrivals and departures (OAD) collection; and
  • the number of visas being granted.

It is data on the number of travellers from the NOM collection that accurate migration estimates are based on. It is these NOM estimates that are used in the official estimates of Australia's resident population, not the number of OAD movements or the number of visas granted.

Statistics from the OAD collection relate to the number of movements of travellers rather than the number of travellers (i.e. multiple movements of individual persons during a given reference period are each counted separately). The OAD collection also relates to information self reported by most travellers on their intended duration of stay in, or away from, Australia. Therefore, movement data from the OAD collection would always be different to the official estimation of the number of travellers from the NOM collection.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) manages and grants visas each year in accordance with relevant legislation, government planning and policy. It is important to note that there is a difference between when and how many visas are granted by DIAC; and when and how they may impact on NOM and therefore Australia's estimated resident population (ERP). For example, for many visas there can be a lag between a visa being granted and the actual use of that visa by the applicant on entering Australia. Also, some travellers who have been granted permanent or long-term temporary visas may end up staying in Australia for a short period of stay or not at all and therefore will not have contributed to NOM as they do not meet the '12/16 month rule' (see Glossary). In addition, travellers may also apply for, and be granted, a different visa whilst in Australia or overseas. Therefore, the number of visas granted would always be different to the official estimation of the number of travellers from the NOM collection.

Care should be taken when using either OAD movements data or the number of visas granted, as these sources are not the best suited for measuring overseas migration in the context of contributing to official population estimates for Australia.



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