3412.0 - Migration, Australia, 2014-15 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/03/2016   
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30 March 2016
Embargo: 11.30am (Canberra Time)

Overseas born Aussies highest in over a century

The proportion of Australians who were born overseas has hit its highest point in over 120 years, with 28 per cent of Australia's population born overseas, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

"Australia has traditionally had a high proportion of migrants, but we've now hit a peak not seen since the late 1800s," said Beidar Cho from the ABS.

The percentage of Australian residents born overseas has increased every year for the last 15 years.

"The number of Australian residents born in India has almost tripled over the last 10 years and residents born in China have more than doubled in this time."

The change in our migrant mix can best be observed in the differences in median age of certain groups.

"Migrants born in Italy, for example, had a median age of 64.7 years in 2005. This increased to 69.3 years in 2015 - indicating a drop in recent migration and the aging of existing migrants," said Ms Cho.

"On the other hand, migrants from our Asian neighbours, such as India, have seen a reduction in median age from 37 years in 2005 to 33.4 years in 2015."

Top 10 countries of birth - 30 June 2015(a)(b)(c)

Country of birth
% of Australian population

United Kingdom
1 207 000
New Zealand
611 400
481 800
432 700
236 400
230 200
198 200
South Africa
178 700
156 500
125 900

(a) Estimates are preliminary - see paragraph 9 of the Explanatory Notes.
(b) Top 10 countries of birth excluding Australia.
(c) All population figures presented in this table are rounded. Estimates of the proportion of the Australian population are based on unrounded numbers.

Looking at Net Overseas Migration for 2014-15, a decrease from the previous year was recorded, with an annual estimate of 168,200 persons. This was 9.8 per cent (18,200 persons) less than in 2013-14. At a state level the largest gains were in New South Wales with 66,100, Victoria with 54,100 and Queensland with 19,100.

In the Net Interstate Migration figures for 2014-15, we see Victoria extending its lead from the previous year over the other states with the net gain increasing to 10,200 compared with 8,800 from the previous year. Queensland had the second highest net gain from interstate migration with 6,400. While New South Wales once again recorded the largest net loss in 2014-15 (-6,600). The net losses for New South Wales however, have significantly reduced from the -25,600 of ten years earlier.

More information can be found in Migration, Australia, 2014-15 (cat. no. 3412.0), available for free download from www.abs.gov.au.

Media Note:
  • Country of birth data is available at the state and territory level in Census years only.
  • Median age is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
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