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GEO 13 – Moving In and Moving Up

You can download this activity as a rich text file (RTF) at the bottom of the page

    Subject Area


    Suggested Level

    Years 9 - 11


    This classroom activity explores the rapid changes occurring in the inner part of Australia’s capital cities. It provides a useful introduction to city programs which are being undertaken by some schools. The changes noted are similar to those taking place globally. Rising fuel prices, concerns about global warming and sustainability, increasing numbers of single people and changing lifestyles contribute to the growing number of people seeking an inner city lifestyle. In Australia, the mid part of the twentieth century saw an outward drift in cities, where new suburbs were developed in response to growing car use. However, the first part of the twenty-first century has been characterised by inner city growth. The high value of urban space in the inner city has given rise to growth in apartment dwelling and as a result an increase in population density.

    The activity uses Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) to define the central area of Australia’s capital cities. The SLA is closely aligned with the Postal Areas of the central part of the capital cities. QuickStats and Time Series Community profiles from the Census of Population and Housing have been used, as well as related ABS publications.

    Data is provided for every capital city in Australia. It is envisaged that for most activities, teachers will choose the capital city appropriate for their state.


    • Spreadsheet software program (optional)
    • Map of the central area of chosen city
    • Geo_12 worksheet (template or interactive population pyramid, see bottom of this page)



    What is the population?

    The official population count for Australia is the Estimated Resident Population (ERP), which is published quarterly in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0), Births, deaths and migration statistics are used to determine the Estimated Resident Population. The Census of Population and Housing is conducted every five years and provides a detailed snapshot of Australia’s population at that moment in time. It also serves as a benchmark for population estimates.

    Changes to the Method of Collection

    Census data may be returned in two ways, namely Place of Usual Residence and Place of Enumeration. Prior to 2006, a person was counted according to their location on Census night (Place of Enumeration). However, from 2006 onwards, data are primarily shown according to where they usually live (Place of Usual Residence).

    Care should be exercised when making comparisons of Census data over time and the method of data collection should be clarified.

    Geographic Units

    In the Census, the smallest geographic area is a Collection District. It consists of approximately 225 households and generally represents the work of one Census collector. Collection Districts are aggregated to form larger geographic areas as part of the Australian Standard Geographic Classification (ASGC), (cat. no. 1216.0). A Statistical Local Area (SLA) is one of these larger geographic units and for this activity is the most appropriate way of representing the inner city area of Australia’s capital cities.

    6.1 Where is the inner city?

    Ask students to complete the following activities for a city of their choice.

    1. Provide a map of the central area of the chosen city. Ask students to use the Australian Bureau of Statistics website for Census information Select ‘Census Data Online’ and the product 2006QuickStats. Use the ‘Search’ tab to locate the area of study. For all capital cities (except Brisbane, Canberra and Darwin) type in the name of the capital city and press ‘Search’. Select 'Statistical Local Areas' shown in Table 1. A new map is generated showing the boundaries of this area. To view statistics on the area click ‘View QuickStats’

    To find the Statistical Local Area for inner Brisbane, Canberra and Darwin use the ‘Browse’ tab and search for the location ‘Statistical Local Area’. Brisbane is found within the Inner Brisbane Statistical Subdivision, Canberra within the North Canberra Statistical Subdivision and Darwin within the Darwin City Statistical Subdivision.

    Ask students to shade their own map to show the boundaries of the Statistical Local Area covering the centre of the chosen capital city.

    2. Identify the boundaries which form the northern, eastern, southern and western sides of the Statistical Local Area.

    Does this area conform to your idea of the central part of the capital city? Discuss.

    6.2 How many people live in the centre of our capital cities?

    Activities in Section 6.2 should be completed in conjunction with the background information provided at the beginning of this section.

    The Census of Population and Housing provides a snapshot of the population at a point in time. The Census is held in August during the school term.
    Comparison of PopulationsCensus Community Profile Series (Time Series)QuickStats
    SLA codes and names Located on census night ( Place of enumeration)Place of usual residence on Census night
    105057201 Sydney (C) - Inner3608321991
    205054601 Melbourne (C) - Inner2228311590
    305011143 Brisbane City - Inner62292716
    405150070 Adelaide (C)2277016659
    505057081 Perth (C) - Inner48921079
    605052811 Hobart (C) - Inner1050456
    705051018 Darwin City - Inner62392484
    805051449 Canberra City1822723
    Source: 2006 Census of Population and Housing, Census Community Profile Series(Time Series) and QuickStats

    Study Table 1 and for a chosen city answer the following questions:

    1. Does the number of persons usually resident in the inner city outnumber the persons enumerated?

    2. For the chosen city, calculate the difference between the two count methods. Account for the difference in populations recorded.

    The Estimated Resident Population (ERP), which is based on the Census Place of Usual Residence count adjusted for births, deaths and migration is the official population count. Estimates are made annually for Statistical Local areas and they are published in Regional Population Growth (cat. no. 3218.0), see Table 2.

    3. Using the official population count, the ERP (Table 2), rank Australia’s capital cities according to the population of the innermost Statistical Local Areas in 2007. Is the ranking one that was expected?

    TABLE 2: Estimated Resident Population at 30 June, 2007 for selected SLA, AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL CITIES.
    SLAArea km2Population 2007(p)Population density 2007 (persons /km2)
    Sydney (C)- Inner4.2235845607.2
    Melbourne (C) - Inner1.9134877029.0
    Brisbane City -Inner0.734434892.7
    Adelaide (C)15.6185751192.8
    Perth (C) - Inner1.81290708.5
    Hobart (C) - Inner0.6491798.4
    Darwin City - Inner2.628331110.3
    ACT Canberra - City1.5767525.1
    (p) estimates for 2007 are preliminary
    Source: Regional Population Growth (cat. no. 3218.0)

    4. Are there persons in the inner city who may not have been counted on Census night?(answer provided)

    6.3 Have the inner parts of our capital cities changed over time?

    1. For a city of your choice and using Table 3, make a graph to show the growth in the number of people resident in the inner city between 1996 and 2006. (answer provided)

    The average annual growth rate is calculated as a percentage using the formula below, where P0 is the population at the start of the period, Pn is the population at the end of the period and n is the length of the period between Pn and P0 in years.

    2. Use the average annual growth rates provided in Table 3 to compare growth of your chosen city with that of other Australian cities in the period 1996- 2006.

    3. In groups, ask students to discuss the changes taking place in the city to accommodate a growing population.
    Statistical Local Area1996200120061996-20012001-2006 Annual Growth Rate (%)Average Annual Growth Rate (%)
    Sydney (C) - Inner6233146182273318.69.2
    Melbourne (C) - Inner177464981243129.613.9
    City - Inner Brisbane3451021282324.222.6
    Adelaide (C)1283113289176320.75.8
    Perth (C) - Inner420777122713.19.6
    Hobart (C) - Inner3784394883.02.1
    Darwin City - Inner1823211228203.06.0
    ACT Canberra - City17448472022.78.3
    Source: Regional Population Growth, Australia (cat. no. 3218.0)

    6.4 What is the population density of our inner cities?

    1. Use Table 2, Estimated Resident Population at 30 June 2007, to identify the population density of your chosen city.

    2. How is population density calculated?

    3. How would population density change during a 24 hour period in the inner city areas?

    4. Ask students to research how the population density of Australian inner city areas compares with the world’s major cities. Whilst completing this task ask the questions

    (1) What is the source of the data?

    (2) How was the data collected?

    6.5 What are the characteristics of dwelling units in the inner city?

    There has been a significant increase in apartment living in the inner cities due to population growth, changes in the composition of households, lifestyle choices and the high value of land. The Census of Population and Housing gathers data about dwelling types. A number of activities are provided below. Choose one or more activities to suit the student group.

    1. For the city of your choice, use Table 4 and create a graph to show the change in the number of flats, units or apartments between 1996 – 2006.

    2. Calculate the percentage increase in flats, units or apartments for the ten years from 1996 – 2006 for your chosen city.(answer provided)

    3. For the city of your choice and with reference to the statistics calculated above and provided in Table 4, briefly describe the changes which have taken place in this type of private dwelling between 1996 and 2006 and provide reasons for the change identified.

    4. Locate an image of a high rise apartment block (Google Maps satellite/Streetview may be helpful) and ask students to annotate it to show the advantages and disadvantages of living in this type of accommodation.

    Statistical Local AreaNo. Occupied Private Dwellings: Flat, unit or apartment


    No. Occupied Private Dwellings: Flat, unit or apartment


    No. Occupied Private Dwellings: Flat, unit or apartment


    Flats, units or apartments as % of Total Occupied Private Dwellings in Region


    Sydney (C) - Inner21416242866788.8%
    Melbourne (C) - Inner7643991662198.2%
    Brisbane City - Inner101518184496.5%
    Adelaide (C)19222392325241.5%
    Perth (C) - Inner10617853878.5%
    Hobart (C) - Inner22262420.0%
    Darwin City - Inner3611271106891.0%
    ACT Canberra - City5924241992.5%
    Source: 2006 Census of Population and Housing, Census Community Profiles(Time Series), QuickStats.

    5. Debate the topic:

    “Apartment living is the only sustainable way for Australians to live.”

    6. Imagine that a two storey heritage precinct in the inner part of your chosen capital city is to be redeveloped into a 40 storey office and residential tower.

    6.1 Create a role play to simulate the arguments which will be advanced by different members of the community to this proposal. Roles may include: A local council representative, a council officer responsible for granting the planning permission, a resident adjacent to the development who will be overlooked by the tower, a young person seeking accommodation in the city, an elderly citizen, a public transport activist, a local retailer, an environmentalist, an architect, a service provider (e.g. water, gas or electricity) and a historian.

    6.2 The building is to be designed with ‘green’ credentials. Research methods of construction that are being implemented to make high rise city developments more environmentally sustainable.

    7. Imagine the year is 2040 and there is a great deal of urban renewal taking place in the centre of your chosen city. The office and apartment blocks built at the end of the last century and the start of this century are being replaced by much higher towers. Following a visit (either real or virtual) to the inner city area to study the nature and distribution of the high rise towers, identify the towers that you would recommend for heritage status as classic examples of late twentieth century architecture. These towers will become heritage buildings and will therefore be protected against future urban renewal. With the aid of annotated photographs illustrate why the chosen high rise building should be preserved.

    6.6 Who lives in the inner city?

    1. The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) provides the most accurate count of the population. Use the statistics provided in Table 5a-c and the template or interactive age sex pyramid provided (see .xls file provided at the bottom of this page), to create an age sex pyramid for the capital city of choice. The age sex pyramids are also provided for comparison in the answer section of this activity.

    2. Describe the pyramid by choosing the correct words in the spaces below.

    The age sex pyramid presents males to the right/left and females to the left/right. The base of the pyramid is wider/narrower than the middle section and there were approximately …..………..children aged less than 15 years old. The top of the pyramid is wide/narrow, with approximately …………people over the age of 75 years. The sides of the pyramid representing the ages above 15 years are concave/ convex and the most prominent bulge occurs at ……………years. There are approximately ………….. people in this age category. The sides of the pyramid above 15 years of age slope evenly/unevenly. Males and females occur in similar/very different numbers throughout the age groups although there are more males than females in the following age groups ………… and more females than males in these age groups…………………………………..

    3. Explain the shape of the pyramid by answering the following questions;

    a) Why is the base narrow?

    b) Why is the top narrow?

    c) What reasons explain the large bulge in numbers?

    d) What reasons explain variations between the sexes in the different age groups?

    4. Ask students to brainstorm the advantages and the disadvantages of living in the inner city for people of different age groups e.g. very young children, young adults, working population and the elderly. In addition, discuss if they would like to live there?

    Age (years):MalesFemalesPersonsMalesFemalesPersonsMalesFemalesPersons
    0-4 years31627859410392195314677
    5-9 years140178318324173162036
    10-14 years193158351332558191635
    15-19 years550562111252956010897361134
    20-24 years238027795159211223154427374317691
    25-29 years279625615357143912782717351259610
    30-34 years1382128626687315631294210153363
    35-39 years847660150741532073515997256
    40-44 years676536121231220852013374207
    45-49 years66849511632642134778993182
    50-54 years604492109621019740712299221
    55-59 years50641592121821943714090230
    60-64 years3973227191851122979379172
    65-69 years28221049294741686241103
    70-74 years1961763725262114342256
    75-79 years137101238423678111122
    80-84 years848817246348031316
    85 years and over63871501623394711
    Source: Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2007 ( 3235.0)

    Age (years):MalesFemalesPersonsMalesFemalesPersonsMalesFemalesPersons
    0-4 years2072194261215272911
    5-9 years1541282826286511
    10-14 years12815928712517000
    15-19 years5826091191212849211637
    20-24 years1814199038041161092256737104
    25-29 years15001170267012392215433578
    30-34 years99672617227969148241741
    35-39 years711541125211346159251237
    40-44 years64942610758834122151227
    45-49 years4934389317629105241438
    50-54 years527428955472471201838
    55-59 years563512107534306417623
    60-64 years42740783428326013114
    65-69 years3282575852911406511
    70-74 years172208380155208614
    75-79 years1571873449716538
    80-84 years14718433110616112
    85 years and over109227336000437
    Source: Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2007 ( 3235.0)

    Age (years):MalesFemalesPersonsMalesFemalesPersons
    0-4 years4833815914
    5-9 years271340112
    10-14 years3033633912
    15-19 years40811219817
    20-24 years2391714108789176
    25-29 years2532004538955144
    30-34 years1851263116140101
    35-39 years160102262472875
    40-44 years12767194321648
    45-49 years15058208321749
    50-54 years12476200331043
    55-59 years13757194161632
    60-64 years1145116525732
    65-69 years6534995914
    70-74 years401353358
    75-79 years2621479514
    80-84 years1324376410
    85 years and over52126404
    Source: Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2007 ( 3235.0)


    Average annual growth rate:
    The average annual growth rate is calculated as a percentage using the formula below, where P0 is the population at the start of the period, Pn is the population at the end of the period and n is the length of the period between Pn and P0 in years.

    Collection District(CD):
    Is the second smallest area defined in the Australian Standard Geographic Classification. The CD is the smallest unit for collection and processing in the Census of Population and Housing.

    Estimated Resident Population (ERP):
    Is the count of all people regardless of citizenship and nationality, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomats and their families. It is the official measure of the Australian population.

    Place of Enumeration:
    Is the place at which a person is counted i.e. where he/she spent Census Night, which may not be where he/she lives.

    Place of Usual Residence:
    This is the place where a person usually lives.

    Statistical Local Area (SLA):
    Forms part of the Australian Standard Geographic Classification and is an area composed of one or more Collection Districts. SLAs are Local Government Areas or parts thereof.


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Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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