3412.0 - Migration, Australia, 2002-03  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/04/2004   
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1 This publication contains statistics relating to overseas migration, interstate migration and estimated resident population by country of birth. This includes components of net overseas migration such as permanent and long-term arrivals, and permanent and long-term departures, as well as contextual information such as the international migration statistics of other countries, and the number of settler arrivals by visa eligibility category.

2 This publication also contains estimates of overseas migration adjustments (formerly known as category jumping). Recently, deficiencies have been identified in the measurement of category jumping. This has led to the development and implementation of a new method of adjusting net overseas migration, which in turn has led to the presentation of components of overseas migration on an adjusted basis, for instance in Chapter 5, 'Long-term movement.' For more information see Chapter 6, 'Special article: adjustments to overseas migration estimates.'


3 Net overseas migration figures are based on net permanent and long-term overseas movements. Movements of less than twelve months (short-term movements) are excluded from the calculation of net overseas migration.

4 The estimates from July 1982 until June 1997 include an adjustment for the net effect of category jumping. As problems with the measurement of category jumping became apparent in early 2003, category jumping was set to zero pending a review, from July 1997 to June 2001. With the new method of adjusting overseas migration, migration adjustments are presented in this publication from July 2001 to September 2003. For further details see the Technical Note in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3401.0), September quarter 2003 (Publications>31 Demography General>3101 - Australian Demographic Statistics Sep 2003).


5 Information about internal migration is available from population censuses, sample surveys of internal movements and administrative by-product data such as Medicare change of address information.

  • Prior to June 1986, quarterly estimates were derived from records of interstate changes of addresses advised to the Department of Social Security in connection with family allowance payments. Family allowance transfer data related to children only, and interstate migration for all ages was based on the expansion of these family allowance data using ratios of adult to child populations. These ratios, calculated for each interstate flow, were based on results from the latest available census. Data from the Internal Migration Survey were used to constrain total interstate moves to those revealed by the survey. Data derived from the ratio expansion method were subject to revision in the light of the more accurate census data.
  • Since June 1986, estimates of interstate migration have been derived using confidentialised information on interstate changes of address supplied by the Health Insurance Commission in the process of administering Medicare. Prior to June 1996, only Medicare transfers for persons aged 1-14 years were used, as most other ages suffered from significant under-registration of transfers. The method used to expand the 1-14-year-old movers was similar to the previous method, with adult to child expansion ratios based on information from the latest available census being applied to the Medicare movers data for ages 1-14 years for each interstate flow.
  • Since June 1996, the method used to estimate interstate migration was revised after investigations identified that coverage of Medicare had improved, and become more stable for those ages which still suffered from significant under-registration. Movers of each age are now used to directly estimate interstate migration for the same age. Estimates are then adjusted for undercoverage by Medicare for those ages which still had significant under-registration (i.e. males aged 16-29 years and females aged 18-24 years), by comparing census and Medicare data. This method also represents an improvement over the previous methods as it produces an age profile on interstate movers. In recent years an adjustment for defence force movements has been included.



6 Persons arriving in, or departing from, Australia provide information in the form of incoming and outgoing passenger cards (see Appendix 2). Incoming persons also provide information in visa applications, apart from people travelling as Australian and New Zealand citizens. This and other information available to DIMIA serve as a source for statistics on overseas arrivals and departures.

7 Implementation of the Migration Reform Act 1992 (Cwlth) by the then Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA, which later became DIMIA) required that a health and character check be incorporated with the Incoming Passenger Card. The redesign of both passenger cards followed and new passenger cards were officially introduced on 1 September 1994 with minor alterations to the cards in March 1995.

8 The two main statistical changes affect 'Purpose of journey' and marital status and constitute a break in time series for these data items. The following changes were made to the 'Purpose of journey' question: on the Incoming Passenger Card 'In transit' was dropped; on the Outgoing Passenger Card 'Student vacation' was dropped; and on both cards 'Visiting relatives' was changed to 'Visiting friends/relatives', 'Convention' was changed to 'Convention/conference' and 'Accompanying business visitor' was dropped. The marital status question included 'Separated but not divorced' and 'Common law/de facto', but this question has since been deleted.

9 In July 1998, DIMA revised the incoming and outgoing passenger cards and associated procedures as well as computer systems. Following these changes, some questions on the passenger cards are not compulsory and answers to these questions are not checked by Customs officers. The question on marital status was deleted. Data on marital status is now derived from visa applications (only for certain visa classes) and is therefore not available for Australian or New Zealand citizens. The changes also affect the data for 'Previous country of residence' which is imputed for Australian and New Zealand citizens. For more information see the May 1998 issue of Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0). Since July 1998, there have been additional minor changes to both passenger cards.


10 All permanent movements and all movements with a duration of stay of one year or more are completely enumerated.

11 The statistics in this publication relate to the number of movements of travellers rather than the number of travellers (i.e. the multiple movements of individual persons during a given reference period are each counted separately). The statistics exclude the movements of operational air crew and ships' crew, of transit passengers who pass through Australia but are not cleared for entry, and of passengers on pleasure cruises commencing and finishing in Australia aboard ships not then engaged on regular voyages.



12 Australia's population estimates for the period since 1971 are compiled according to the place of usual residence of the population. An explanation of the conceptual basis for population estimates is given in Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Themes>Demography>Concepts, Sources and Methods).


13 The estimates of the populations of Australia and the states and territories at the date of the Census of Population and Housing are the adjusted (for under-enumeration) census counts on a place of usual residence basis, to which are added the number of Australian residents estimated to have been temporarily overseas at the time of the census.

14 Quarterly estimates of the Australian population are obtained by adding to the population at the beginning of each period components of natural increase (on a usual residence basis) and net overseas migration. For the states and territories, account is also taken of estimated interstate movements involving a change of usual residence. After each census, estimates are made for the preceding intercensal period by incorporating an additional quarterly adjustment (intercensal discrepancy) to ensure that the total intercensal increase agrees with the difference between the estimated resident population at the two respective census dates.


15 Natural increase is the excess of births over deaths. For the compilation of population estimates births and deaths by state or territory of usual residence are used. For preliminary population estimates, births and deaths by quarter of registration are used, but for revised and final estimates year and quarter of occurrence data are used to ensure the accuracy of the single year of age population estimates.

16 Estimated resident population is calculated by country of birth for 30 June of each year. Estimates by country of birth, age and sex are calculated by taking into account births, deaths and net overseas migration over the preceding twelve months (all births in that year are added to the Australian-born population). Deaths during that year are subtracted from the population of the preceding year on the basis of financial year of birth, sex and country of birth. Net overseas migration is added to that population on the same basis.

17 As with the method of estimating net overseas migration, the ABS is reviewing the method of estimating the components of net overseas migration by country of birth, for the purpose of calculating ERP by country of birth. In particular, the method of estimating the migration adjustment requires further work to achieve a reliable country of birth disaggregation. Until this is available, long-term migration data by country of birth may yield anomalous results. Therefore 2001-02 net overseas migration was disaggregated by country of birth using permanent arrivals and departures data. For more information, ring Ian Appleby on (02) 6252 6141.


18 The classification of countries used throughout this publication is the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC). This replaces the Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (ASCCSS) used in previous issues of this publication. The SACC consolidates within one document the three previous revisions to the ASCCSS (revisions 1.01, 1.02 and 1.03), which were made necessary by political developments in Europe, the former USSR and Africa. It also makes a number of changes to the main structure of the classification which improve the statistical balance of the classification and make it more useful for the analysis of data. For more detailed information refer to the ABS publication Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 1998 (cat. no. 1269.0) (Publications>12 Classifications and Work Manuals>1269.0 Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC)>1998).

19 Statistics on country of birth, citizenship, residence or main destination have certain limitations because of inadequate reporting on passenger cards. For instance, it is not possible to identify separately England, Scotland and Wales. Similarly Korea includes both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The United States of America includes 'America (undefined)'.


20 Following the 1992 amendment to the Acts Interpretation Act to include the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands as part of geographic Australia, population estimates commencing with the September quarter 1993 include estimates for these two territories. To reflect this change, another category of the state or territory level has been created, known as Other Territories. Other Territories includes Jervis Bay Territory as well as Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Where information is presented by state and territory, information for Other Territories is not presented separately but is included in Australia totals.


21 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


22 Users may also wish to refer to the following ABS publications:
  • Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Themes>Demography>Concepts, Sources and Methods)
  • Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3401.0), September quarter 2003 (Publications>31. Demography General>3101 - Australian Demographic Statistics Sep 2003) - issued quarterly
  • Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0) (Publications>34. Migration >3401.0 Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia- issued monthly
  • Census of Population and Housing: Australia in Profile - A Regional Analysis, 2001 (cat. no. 2032.0) (Publications>20. Census statistical products and services>2032.0)
  • Census of Population and Housing: Population Growth and Distribution, 2001 (cat. no. 2035.0) (Publications>20. Census statistical products and services>2035.0)

23 Related statistics are also published by DIMIA, all available on the department's web site: <http://www.immi.gov.au>:
  • Population Flows - Immigration Aspects
  • Immigration Update

24 A number of people arriving temporarily in Australia are subsequently granted permanent residency. These permanent residency grants contribute to meeting the Australian Government's immigration targets but may be unrelated to stated intentions to stay in Australia on arrival at an earlier date. Accordingly, they are not included in unadjusted permanent arrivals in this publication, as they did not arrive in Australia on a permanent basis. The proportion of migration adjustment which was due to short-term visitor arrivals gaining on-shore grants of permanent residency is not known. Similarly, the number of long-term visitor arrivals who subsequently gain on-shore permanent resident visas is not separately specified in statistics in this publication.

25 The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs has recently released statistics on these on-shore permanent residency grants, in Immigration Update. However, this information was not available to be included in this publication.

26 AusStats is a web based subscriber information service which provides the full standard ABS product range on line. It also includes companion data in multidimensional datasets in SuperTABLE format, and time series spreadsheets.

27 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0) (Publications). The Catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.

28 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, additional demographic information is available from the ABS web site at <https://www.abs.gov.au>; select Themes/Demography.


29 The ABS can make available information that is not published. Generally, a charge is made for providing unpublished information. For information about related unpublished statistics or data concepts, contact Ian Appleby on Canberra (02) 6252 6141.

30 The following table lists the variables available for overseas arrival and departure data:

  • Country of citizenship
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Category of travel
  • Residents: state of residence
  • Visitors: state of intended address/state in which most time was spent

May become available in next twelve months:
  • Country of birth
  • Main purpose of journey

  • Citizenship (nationality)
  • Country of birth
  • Age (date of birth)
  • Sex
  • Category of travel
  • Permanent migrant
  • Previous/future country of residence
  • State of intended address/lived
  • Overseas visitor
  • Intended/actual length of stay
  • Main reason for journey
  • Country of residence
  • State of intended address/in which most time was spent
  • Australian resident
  • Intended/actual time away from Australia
  • Main reason for journey
  • Country spent/intend to spend most time abroad
  • State of intended address/lived
  • Intention to live in Australia for next twelve months

For further information:

Main Features:
Australian Demographic Statistics, 3101.0
Overseas Arrivals and Departures 3401.0

International Migration
Feature Article: Population Mobility
Special Article: Long-Term Movement

Time Series Spreadsheets (cost involved):
Interstate Arrivals
Interstate Departures
Total Movement, Arrivals - Category of Movement
Total Movement, Departures - Category of Movement
Permanent Movement, Settlers - Country of Birth (Major Groups)
Permanent Movement, Settlers - Country of Birth

Publications (cost involved):
Australian Demographic Statistics, 3101.0
Overseas Arrivals and Departures 3401.0

Statistical Concepts Library:
Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods

Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0)

Media Releases:
Just the release for this pub (coming soon)

Data Cubes (cost involved):
Australian Historical Population Statistics - Migration