4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/06/2003   
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June 3, 2003
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Rural, Regional and Community trends shown in latest national snapshot

Australian Social Trends, 2003, released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) provides new insights into the complex nature of our changing society.

The analysis is based on the most recent ABS data, as well as data from other sources. Among many different topics, the publication examines the slower population growth in rural and remote areas and the extent to which this is influenced by young people migrating to the cities looking for educational and work opportunities. The report also notes the increased number of lone parents and couples living without children, while the number of couples with children has remained relatively stable since 1986.

Rural and regional themes
  • Between 1991 and 2001, the fastest population growth was in major cities (13%) and in inner regional areas (14%), while the growth in more remote areas was less than 5%.
  • Between 1986 and 2001, farming families decreased by 22%, from 145,000 to 112,800.
  • Young people are one of the most mobile groups in the population. In the five years to August 2001, half of all people aged 15-24 years moved residence. Almost three times as many young people left country areas than arrived in these areas (226 net departures per 1,000 young people). Nearly two thirds of the net outflow of these young people was to capital cities.
  • School completion rates and attendance at secondary school declined with increasing remoteness. In major cities, 82% of males aged 16 years, and 87% of females aged 16 years were attending a secondary school, while only 38% of males, and 45% of females in this age group in very remote areas were attending a secondary school.
  • In 2001, 93,000 people lived in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia, with most of these communities having access to essential services. However, of the larger remote communities, 68% had bore water as the main source of drinking water, 85% had experienced electricity interruptions, and 49% had experienced sewage system faults in the previous year.

Families and communities themes
  • While couple families with children remain the most common type of family in Australia, between 1986 and 2001, one-parent families increased by 53%, while couple families with children increased by only 3%.
  • In 1999, just over half (53%) of all families with young children and at least one parent employed used some form of flexible working arrangement, such as flexible working hours or permanent part-time work, to care for children. In 1999, one-parent families where the parent was employed were the most likely to make use of formal child care.
  • In the past two decades, average working hours of full-time workers increased from 42 hours per week in 1982 to 44 hours per week in 2002. This largely reflects an increase in the proportion of full-time workers working between 50 and 59 hours per week - up from 10% in 1982 to 16% in 2002.
  • In 2001–02 there were 30,500 substantiated reports of child neglect or abuse made to state or territory community service departments.
  • Between 1989–90 and 2001, the proportion of Australian adults who smoked declined. At the same time, adults increased the amount of deliberate exercise they undertook. However, despite the rise in deliberate physical activity, the adult population on average became more overweight or obese. In 2001, 24% of the adult population were current smokers, 32% were physically inactive, and 46% were overweight or obese.
  • Between 1991 and 2001, higher density dwellings increased by 37%, compared with an 18% increase in separate houses.
  • In 2001, young adults aged 15-24 years experienced the highest levels of crime victimisation across a range of offence categories, including homicide, assault, sexual assault and robbery. Older Australians aged 65 years and over experienced the lowest. However, older people are more likely than young people to report feeling unsafe in a variety of situations.

More detail from the articles which appear in Australian Social Trends, 2003 (cat. no. 4102.0) is available in the "Australia Now" section on this site.

ATTENTION: Feature Editors, Program Producers

    POPULATION (pp 1-25)
      Population characteristics and remoteness* (pp 7-11)
      Ancestry of Australia's population (pp 12-16)
      People in institutional settings (pp 17-21)
      Youth migration within Australia (pp 22-25)
      Changing families (pp 35-39)
      Balancing family and work (pp 40-44)
      Farming families* (pp 45-49)
      Child protection (pp 50-54)
      Services in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (pp 55-59)
      HEALTH (pp 61-82)
        Medical practitioners (pp 69-73)
        Health risk factors among adults (pp 74-78)
        Injuries (pp 79-82)
        EDUCATION AND TRAINING (pp 83-109)
          Regional differences in education and outcomes (pp 91-95)
          Pathways from school to work (pp 96-100)
          School teachers (pp 101-104)
          Work-related training (pp 105-109)
        WORK (pp 111- 143)
          Longer working hours (pp 119-123)
          Geographic distribution of unemployment* (pp 124-128)
          Underutilised labour (pp 129-133)
          Changes in labour force participation across generations (pp 134-138)
          Multiple spells of looking for work (pp 139-143)

        ECONOMIC RESOURCES (pp 146-164)
          The geography of income distribution* (pp 153-157)
          Taxes and government benefits: the effect on household income (pp 158-161)
          Community services sector (pp 162-164)

        HOUSING (pp 165-184)
          First home buyers* (pp 171-174)
          Changes in Australian housing (pp 175-179)
          Home ownership across Australia* (pp 180-184)

        FEATURES (pp 185-197)
          Crime victimisation and feelings of safety (pp 187-189)
          Children's out-of-school activities (pp 190-193)
          Household use of computers and the Internet (pp 194-197)

          (* contains some State/Territory comparison)