Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

How many people live in Australia's remote areas?

Australia’s population inhabits many different geographic locations, ranging from large coastal cities to isolated outback areas. The new Remoteness Structure, developed as part of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification, footnote 1 may be used to explore population characteristics across these various regions of Australia. footnote 2

The new Remoteness Structure covers the whole of Australia and classifies Australia into regions which share common characteristics of remoteness. There are six Remoteness Areas in the Structure: Major Cities of Australia, Inner Regional Australia, Outer Regional Australia, Remote Australia, Very Remote Australia and Migratory.

An estimated two-thirds (66.3%) of the total population resided in Major Cities as at 30 June 2001. The rest were mainly residents of Inner and Outer Regional areas (31.1%) with only 2.6% of people in either Remote or Very Remote areas. The proportion of the population in each of the Remoteness Areas varied considerably across the states and territories. Almost all of the population of the Australian Capital Territory (99.8%) was in a Major City area, while the Northern Territory had higher proportions of people in Remote (21.2%) and Very Remote (24.8%) areas than any other state or territory (table 5.21).

A relatively high proportion of Indigenous persons live in regional and remote areas. Major Cities were home to the largest proportion of Indigenous persons (30.2%) in 2001. However, almost half (49.5%) lived in Outer Regional, Remote and Very Remote areas combined, compared with 13.0% of the total Australian population (graph 5.22).


5.21 DISTRIBUTION OF THE POPULATION ACROSS REMOTENESS AREAS - 30 June 2001

Major Cities
Inner Regional
Outer Regional
Remote
Very Remote
Total(a)

State/territory
%
%
%
%
%
%
'000

New South Wales
71.4
20.5
7.3
0.6
0.1
100.0
6,575.2
Victoria
73.4
21.2
5.3
0.1
-
100.0
4,804.7
Queensland
52.4
25.9
17.8
2.5
1.5
100.0
3,628.9
South Australia
71.8
12.4
11.8
3.0
1.0
100.0
1,511.7
Western Australia
70.6
12.2
9.8
4.8
2.6
100.0
1,901.2
Tasmania
-
63.6
34.1
1.8
0.6
100.0
471.8
Northern Territory
-
-
54.0
21.2
24.8
100.0
197.8
Australian Capital Territory
99.8
0.2
-
-
-
100.0
319.3
Australia(b)
66.3
20.7
10.4
1.7
0.9
100.0
19,413.2

(a) Includes persons in Migratory category.
(b) Includes persons in Other Territories.
Source: ABS data available on request, 2001 Census of Population and Housing.

Graph - 5.22 Population, By Indigenous status - 30 June 2001


In addition to providing a picture of population distribution in Australia, the Remoteness Structure meets demand for a standard classification with which to analyse differences according to remoteness, including demographic variables such as sex and age. At 30 June 2001, women outnumbered men in Major Cities and Inner Regional areas, with sex ratios of 97 males per 100 females, and 98 males per 100 females respectively. The reverse was true in the more remote areas, where male-dominated industries tend to prevail. The median age was highest in Inner Regional areas (37.3 years), followed by Outer Regional areas (36.5 years) and Major Cities (35.2 years). The median age was lowest in Very Remote Areas at 28.8 years.

Variations in median age across Remoteness Areas are due to underlying differences in their age profiles. Consistent with the recognised pattern of young people migrating from country areas to cities for educational and employment opportunities, footnote 3 Major Cities had the highest proportion of young adults aged 15-24 years (14%) as at 30 June 2001, while Outer Regional and Remote areas had the lowest proportions of young adults (12% and 11% respectively). Inner Regional and Outer Regional areas had the highest proportions of older people aged 65 years and over, while the lowest proportions of older people were resident in Remote and Very Remote areas (10% and 8% respectively). The lower cost of living in Inner and Outer Regional areas compared to city areas, in combination with their larger number of services for the aged compared to remote areas, footnote 4 may have contributed to this pattern.

Family characteristics also vary by Remoteness Area, with the presence of different family types closely linked to age distribution. In 2001 older couples without children (where the male partner was aged 55 years or over) comprised almost one-quarter of families in Inner Regional and Outer Regional areas (24% and 23% respectively), compared with 20% nationally. By contrast, this family type accounted for just 12% of families in Very Remote areas. Very Remote areas had the highest proportions of both couple families with children (49%) and one-parent families (17%). Families with children in Very Remote areas were also more likely to contain more children than those in less remote areas; the average number of children (aged under 15 years) increased across Remoteness Areas from 1.8 in Major City areas to 2.1 in Very Remote areas. This reflects a clear gradation of increasing fertility from city areas to remote and regional areas, footnote 5 largely due to fertility differentials at younger ages.

Endnotes

1 ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2001, Statistical Geography, Volume 1: Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2001, cat. no. 1216.0, ABS, Canberra.

2 ABS 2003, 'Population characteristics and remoteness' in Australian Social Trends, 2003, cat. no. 4102.0, ABS, Canberra, pp. 7-11.

3 ABS 2003, 'Youth migration within Australia' and 'Regional differences in education and outcomes' in Australian Social Trends, 2003, cat. no. 4102.0, ABS, Canberra, pp. 22-25 and pp. 91-95.

4 Strong, K, Trickett, P, Titulaer, I & Bhatia, K 1998, Health in rural and remote Australia, AIHW, Canberra.

5 ABS 2002, Births, Australia, 2001, cat. no. 3301.0, ABS, Canberra, p. 36.

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.