4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/06/2002   
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June 4, 2002
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Social Trends in Australia: ABS

Australian Social Trends 2002, the latest national report on our changing society by the Australian Bureau of Statistics was released today. The report examines the way we were in the 20th century, the way we are today and possible directions for social change into the 21st century.

The analysis is based on the most recent ABS data, as well as data from other sources.

Some points of interest emerging from Australian Social Trends, 2002 are:

For older people:

Increasing numbers of people are expected to be living on the coast, especially in Queensland. Bribie Island (Qld) is expected to be the oldest region in Australia in 20 years' time. The 'oldest' areas in other States and Territories were Victor Harbor (SA), Mornington Peninsula South (Vic.), Barraba (NSW), and Fisher (ACT).
  • Grandparents are the most common visitors to come and stay with couple families with young children. They are the third most common visitors to come and stay with one-parent families with children.
  • Older people made up most of those receiving the disability support pension in 2000. Over half of recipients were aged 50 years and over, and only one in ten aged under 30 years.
  • Australia's population will continue to age, even if fertility returns to the high levels of the mid-1970s. In 50 years' time, people aged 65 years and over may make up over a quarter of the population.

For younger people:
  • Australian students aged 15 years perform well in literacy and numeracy compared with other countries. Only Finnish students scored notably higher in reading literacy, and only Japanese students scored notably higher in mathematical literacy.
  • The difference in reading skills for boys and girls becomes more pronounced with age. Girls outperformed boys at the upper-primary and secondary levels. 15 year old students in the Australian Capital Territory were ranked first of all States and Territories in reading literacy.
  • The most common cause of accidental death among teenagers is motor vehicle accidents, and is especially high for males. Deaths due to motor vehicle accidents accounted for over a third of all deaths for male teenagers in 2000.
  • One-quarter of young adults whose living arrangements changed during 1999 had moved out of their parents' home; one in ten had moved back in with their parents.
  • The participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in education has generally increased. especially in vocational education and training, with a 60 per cent increase between 1996 and 2000.

Australian trends in general:
  • Many women are remaining childless throughout their lives. Estimates in 2000 indicate that one-quarter of women currently in their childbearing years are likely to never have children. Women in the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria are more likely to remain childless than women in the other States and Territories.
  • More people are becoming involved in voluntary work than in the past. The proportion of adults doing voluntary work increased from almost a quarter in 1995 to almost a third in 2000. People living outside of our capital cities were more likely to volunteer than those living in them.
  • One-third of Australian employees regularly work overtime. Of these, one-third are not reimbursed in any way. Almost 40 per cent of men regularly work overtime, compared with 25 per cent of women.
  • Approximately 5 per cent of workers experienced a work-related injury or illness in 2000, and of these, 40 per cent received workers' compensation. Mining and Manufacturing were the industries with the highest rates of work-related injuries, while Finance and insurance had the lowest.
  • The life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remains about 20 years lower than that of the total population. This is associated with their much higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack and stroke), external causes (such as accidents, poisonings and violence) and cancer.
  • Close to 200 people became organ donors after death in 2000. This benefited over 650 organ transplant recipients. Kidney transplants were the most common organ transplants, followed by liver transplants.

More detail from the articles which appear in Australian Social Trends, 2002 (cat. no. 4102.0) is available in the "Statistics" section of the ABS website www.abs.gov.au.
ATTENTION: Feature Editors, Program Producers




    Regional population ageing*

    Fertility futures

    Older overseas-born Australians*

    New Zealanders in Australia*


    Trends in childlessness*

    People with a disability: need for guidance

    Changes across Australian generations

    Transitions in living arrangements

    Selected risks faced by teenagers


    Organ donation*

    Work-related injuries

    Cardiovascular disease: 20th century trends

    Mortality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

    Infant mortality*


    Overseas students*

    Education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples*

    Literacy and numeracy among school students*

    Education and training: international comparisons


    Employment arrangements

    Searching for work*

    Working from home

    Voluntary work*

    How pay is set


    Trends in disability support

    Households in financial stress

    Employee superannuation

    Household debt in the 1990s


    Home renovation

    Renter households*

    Housing condition and maintenance

    Energy efficiency in the home*

    (* contains at least some State/Territory comparison)

    ....and over 300 social indicators

    A set of 14 national and State summary tables, presenting key social indicators, provide an overview of social change over the past decade and variations in social conditions across the Australian States and Territories. Tables which provide a set of international summary tables comparing Australia with 17 other nations, including our main trading partners, neighbours and major OECD nations are also included.

Australian Social Trends 2002 (cat. no. 4102.0) will be available on release for access by the media within the Australia Now section of the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au), or for purchase in downloadable electronic and hardcopy format from the Publications section of the ABS website. It will also be available for purchase in hardcopy format from ABS bookshops. To assist your coverage, ABS has arranged a number of expert commentators for many of these subject areas. ABS is also available for interviews, etc., about the data. Contact us if you wish to talk to these commentators.