3311.7 - Demography, Northern Territory, 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/12/2000   
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December 21, 2000
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

The Northern Territory - a unique population

The population of the Northern Territory is quite different to that in any other State or Territory with the highest birth and death rates and the lowest marriage and divorce rates in the country, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Highest birth rates

The Northern Territory continued to record the highest fertility rate in the country in 1999 with Territory women having an average of 2.2 babies each compared to the Australian average of 1.7 babies. This reflects the high fertility of the Territory's relatively large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population which averaged 2.3 babies per woman.

Highest death rates

The Territory also continued to record the highest death rate in the country (after controlling for age structure) with a rate of 8.7 deaths per 1,000 population, reflecting the high death rate among the relatively large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Almost half (48%) of the 830 deaths registered in the Territory in 1999 were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander deaths, although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise less than one third (28%) of the Northern Territory's population. The median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was considerably lower than that for non-Indigenous Territorians.

Lowest marriage rate

In 1999 the Territory recorded the lowest marriage rate in the country with 4.6 marriages per 1,000 population. This figure partly reflects the exclusion of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander marriages. Civil celebrants remained the preferred choice for Territory couples marrying in 1999 (68%) with only one-third (32%) of couples choosing ministers of religion. Nationally about half (51%) of all couples preferred civil celebrants.

Lowest divorce rate

The Northern Territory recorded the lowest divorce rate in the country with 2.1 divorces per 1,000 population, due largely to the Territory's low marriage rate. Territorian marriages which ended in divorce in 1999 lasted for a shorter period before separation than marriages anywhere else in Australia. The median duration of marriage to separation in the Territory was 6.9 years compared to 7.9 years nationally.

Further information can be found in Demography, Northern Territory, 1999 (cat. no. 3311.7) available at the ABS Bookshop. A summary of the main features of this publication can be found on this site.