1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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Contents >> Population >> Introduction

Population statistics are measures of the size, growth, composition and geographic distribution of the population as well as the components that shape population change, notably births, deaths and migration. Population statistics underpin the discussion of a wide range of issues of concern to the community, including immigration, cultural diversity, ageing and population sustainability.

Population trends are associated with many social changes and statistics on these trends assist governments develop social and economic policy. Australia’s population is continually changing. Like many developed countries the population is ageing and the distribution of the population among the states and territories is changing. Changes in Australia's population affect policy areas such as health, education, housing, the labour market and the environment.

There are important legislative requirements for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to produce population estimates. The legislation which determines the distribution of state, territory and local government grants uses ABS population estimates as a basis for calculation. Similarly, population estimates are used to determine the number of seats each state and territory is entitled to in the House of Representatives.

The Census of Population and Housing is the principal source of information about Australia's population. It has been held every five years since 1961 with the most recent census conducted in August 2001.

The census provides a base from which Australia's estimated resident population is calculated. The census count of the population is adjusted for visitors from overseas, Australian residents temporarily overseas on census night and an estimate of the numbers of people missed in the census and those counted more than once. To obtain estimated resident population figures for dates between censuses, births and net overseas migration are added and deaths are subtracted.

There are three articles, namely How many people live in Australia's remote areas?, How many people live in Australia's coastal areas? and Unauthorised arrivals and overstayers in Australia. It concludes with an article Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

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