3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec 1999  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2001   
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Special Article - Long Term Movement (Dec, 1999)

This article was published in Australian Demographic Statistics, December Quarter 1999 (ABS Catalogue number 3101.0)


Long-term movement refers to arrivals and departures involving a period of 12 months or more. Long-term arrivals comprise overseas visitors who intend to stay in Australia for 12 months or more (but not permanently) and Australian residents returning after an absence of 12 months or more overseas. Long-term departures comprise Australian residents who intend to stay overseas for 12 months or more (but not permanently) and overseas visitors departing having stayed 12 months or more in Australia.


(a) Refer to Explanatory Note 16 below.

The number of long-term visitor arrivals increased nearly four fold from 34,100 in 1978–79 to 119,900 in 1998–99. There has been a continued rise in visitor arrivals in the last six years with the highest increase (16,100) recorded between 1997–98 and 1998–99.

Main source countries
The main source countries of long-term overseas visitor arrivals in 1998–99 were the United Kingdom (15,400 or 13%), the United States of America (9,800 or 8%), New Zealand (9,400 or 8%), Indonesia (8,900 or 7%) and Japan (7,700 or 6%), altogether accounting for more than two-fifths of total long-term visitor arrivals. Over the past 20 years, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Japan have remained in the top five source countries for long-term visitor arrivals. Arrivals from Malaysia declined excluding it from the top five source countries in 1998–99. Long-term overseas visitors from Indonesia increased and in 1994-95 Indonesia ranked in the top five source countries, replacing New Zealand. New Zealand regained its place in the top five source countries and ranked third in 1998–99.

Main reason for journey
In 1998–99, 54,300 (45%) overseas visitors came to Australia for education. Education has been the main reason for coming to Australia for long-term visitor arrivals since 1987–88. Long-term travel for education has become less male dominated with the sex ratio (the number of males for every 100 females) for this group of visitors dropping from 166 in 1978–79 to 119 in 1998–99. Overseas student visitors in 1998–99 were young with 73% aged below 25 years. In 1998–99 male student visitors (median age of 22 years) were on average one year older than female student visitors (median age of 21 years). The median age is the age where half the arrivals were above the age and half were below it.

About 21,200 (18%) and 13,400 (11%) long-term visitor arrivals came for employment and business reasons, respectively, in 1998–99. This group of visitors were male dominated with a sex ratio of 196 for those who came for employment and 270 for those who came for business reasons. Generally, they were older people than those who came for education. Long-term arrivals for employment had a median age of 34 years for males and 30 years for females, while those who came for business had a median age of 39 years for males and 35 years for females.

State/Territory of intended address
Over the past 20 years, New South Wales (44% in 1998–99), Victoria (24% in 1998–99) and Queensland (13% in 1998–99) have been the most popular States of intended address of most long-term overseas visitors.

Intended length of stay
In 1998–99, the median intended length of stay of long-term overseas visitor arrivals was 2.4 years. Those who came for business (2.7 years) and employment (2.5 years) intended to stay for the longest period, followed by overseas students (2.4 years). Long-term holiday makers intended to stay for the shortest length of time (1.7 years).

The number of Australian residents departing long-term to other countries has fluctuated in the past 20 years. However, in the last five years there has been a surge in the number of resident departures from 68,400 in 1994–95 to 82,900 in 1998–99.

Main destination
Over the past 20 years, the United Kingdom has been the most popular main destination for Australian residents leaving long-term (27,400 or 33% in 1998–99). The United States of America (9,500 or 11% in 1998–99) has ranked second as the country where Australian residents intended to spend most time in since 1986–87 when it replaced Papua New Guinea. Hong Kong (5,000 or 6% in 1998–99) became the third most popular country for Australian residents departing long-term from 1990–91. Papua New Guinea which was the second most popular main destination 20 years ago was ranked seventh in 1998–99 (2,500 or 3%).

Age and sex
In 1998–99, the bulk (28,100 or 34%) of long-term resident departures were aged 25–34 years. The median age has generally increased over the past 20 years. In 1998–99 males (median age of 30 years) were on average two years older than females (median age of 28 years). There were more male than female long-term resident departures throughout the last 20 years, except in the years 1994–95 and 1995–96. Female residents, however, became more migratory over time (sex ratio declined from 118 in 1978–79 to 103 in 1998–99).

Main reason for journey
Employment continued to be the main reason for long-term resident departures over the past 20 years. In 1998–99, three in 10 long-term resident departures were for employment, two for holidays, one for visiting friends/relatives, one for business, one for education, and two did not state any reason.

From July 1998 the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) are able to determine the actual length of stay for departing overseas visitors and arriving Australian residents which was previously collected from information on intended length of stay supplied on the arrival or departure card by the passenger. This new method has resulted in a change in data distribution with the number of passengers staying for one year exactly declining significantly.

For further information on long-term movement and migration in general see Migration, Australia, 1998–99 (Cat. no. 3412.0) released on 29 February 2000.