2902.0 - Census Update (Newsletter), Mar 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/03/2004   
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On 4 December 2003, the ABS calculated that Australia's population had reached 20 million. The population has doubled since 1959 when the population hit 10 million.

The ABS based this calculation on the Estimated Resident Population (ERP). The ERP is the official estimate of Australia's population. It uses the 2001 Census count as a basis, then excludes overseas visitors, includes Australian residents temporarily abroad, and makes an allowance for under-enumeration. It then updates the figures with the births, deaths, people coming to live in Australia, and Australian residents moving overseas that occur in each quarter.

The projection took the ERP as at 31 March 2003, and then assumed:

  • one birth every 2 minutes and 6 seconds,
  • one death every 3 minutes and 56 seconds,
  • a net gain of one international migrant every 3 minutes and 51 seconds

This led to a net population increase of one person every 2 minutes and 4 seconds. Using these figures, ABS demographers projected that Australia's population would hit the 20 million milestone on 4 December, 2003.

To mark the occasion, Treasurer Peter Costello, the minister responsible for the ABS, spoke at a special event at ABS House in Canberra. He was joined by distinguished academic Professor Graeme Hugo from the University of Adelaide, and the Australian Statistician, Mr Dennis Trewin.

It is not possible to identify exactly who the 20 millionth person would have been. It could have been a newborn baby, a new migrant to Australia, or an Australian citizen returning from living overseas. However, in the spirit of the event, the ABS has offered a congratulatory 20,000,000 certificate signed by the Australian Statistician to all babies born in Australia over a 48 hour period between 12:00 midnight 3 December 2003 and 12:00 midnight 5 December 2003. It is anticipated that around 1,400 babies will be eligible for the certificates.

Commemorative Certificates

Parents may apply for a commemorative certificate on behalf of their newborns by sending a photocopy of the child's official birth certificate (issued by the relevant Australian State or Territory Registrar or Births, Deaths and Marriages) showing the child's full name and date of birth, and return address details to:

"20,000,000 Certificate"
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag 10

Requests for certificates can be made up until 30 June 2004. The 20,000,000 certificates are a celebration gift from the ABS and are not an official birth certificate and cannot be used as proof of identity.