3412.0 - Migration, Australia, 2003-04  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/09/2005   
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This publication brings together statistics on international migration into and out of Australia, interstate migration within Australia and information on overseas-born residents of Australia. Australia's migration is described in the context of the Government's migration program and in comparison with international migration experienced by other countries.


The overseas migration estimates for years up to and including 2000-01 are final. For the status of overseas migration estimates for later periods, refer to paragraph 10 of the Explanatory Notes.

Interstate migration estimates in this publication are final for years up to and including 2000-01 and preliminary for later periods.

Estimated resident population (ERP) by country of birth is final for 30 June 2001 and earlier periods. ERP for 30 June 2002 will be further revised with the results of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. ERP for 30 June 2003 and 30 June 2004 will also be revised due to the next census, and ERP for 30 June 2004 will also be revised because of the preliminary status of net overseas migration (NOM) for 2003-04.


This issue contains fewer tables than the previous (2002-03) issue. This is because much of the detailed information normally presented on overseas migration will be revised through changes in NOM calculation stemming from changes in the method used to calculate NOM (see below).

Tables excluded from this issue are those which provided details of permanent arrivals, permanent departures, long-term arrivals and long-term departures. These details include country of birth, country of residence/intended residence, state of residence/intended residence, longest stay, age and sex.


The method of estimating NOM is under review (refer to Explanatory Notes 11-12). Once the review is complete it is expected that much of the information presented in this publication will be revised. An information paper describing proposed new NOM estimation methods, and plans for the implementation of these methods, is expected to be released in December 2005.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Jason Rumley on Canberra (02) 6252 5406.



  • In 2003-04, Australia's population increased by 117,600 persons due to net overseas migration (NOM). This represented 49% of the total population growth for the year, the same as in 2001-02, but a slight reduction from the proportion for 2002-03 (50%).
  • In 2003-04, Australia had a net migration rate of 5.8 persons per 1,000 population. This was equal to the 2003-04 net migration rate of Canada and higher than those of New Zealand and the United States of America.
  • Over the past two decades the contribution of NOM to total population growth ranged from 17% in 1992-93 to 56% in 1987-88 and 1988-89.
  • Since 1997-98, permanent arrivals through the Skill Stream of the Migration Program have been consistently larger in number than permanent arrivals through both the Family Stream and the Humanitarian Program.
  • Skilled migrants accounted for 46% of all permanent arrivals to Australia in 2003-04. In comparison, Family Stream migrants accounted for 26% and Humanitarian Program migrants contributed 9%, while Non-Program Migration (consisting mostly of New Zealand citizens) comprised 18% of all permanent arrivals in 2003-04.

  • Net overseas migration (NOM) for 2003-04 was 117,600 persons, an increase of 1.0% from the previous year (116,500 persons). Over the twenty years to 2003-04, NOM was highest in 1988-89 (157,400 persons) and lowest in 1992-93 (30,000 persons).
  • For the fifth consecutive year there was a larger net population gain from long-term movement (65,100 persons in 2003-04) than from permanent movement (52,500 persons in 2003-04). Net long-term movement comprised 325,500 arrivals and 260,400 departures. Net permanent movement comprised 111,600 arrivals and 59,100 departures.
  • In the year ended 30 June 2004, NOM made a positive contribution to the population size of all states and territories. New South Wales had the highest gain from NOM (39,300 persons), followed by Victoria (34,600 persons).
  • Almost three quarters (72%) of all persons added to the Australian population through NOM in 2003-04 were aged 15-34 years. In comparison, 28% of Australia's estimated resident population (ERP) were aged 15-34 years as at 30 June 2004.

  • In 2003-04, of all states and territories, Queensland had the largest net population gain due to net interstate migration (36,700 persons), while New South Wales had the largest net loss (30,400 persons).
  • Queensland and Western Australia were the only states or territories to record an average net gain from interstate migration over the preceding ten years (27,200 and 600 persons per annum respectively).
  • New South Wales and South Australia had the largest net population losses due to interstate migration in this period (18,100 and 3,200 persons per annum respectively).
  • The largest single interstate flow in 2003-04 was from New South Wales to Queensland (61,100 persons), while the largest net flow was a net gain for Queensland of 24,600 people from New South Wales.
  • The number of interstate movers in 2003-04 (386,400 persons) decreased by 3.0% from the previous year (398,500 persons).
  • Young adults aged 20-34 years accounted for more than one in three interstate moves in 2003-04. Queensland had a net gain of 8,900 persons in this age group, while New South Wales had a net loss of 7,000 persons and South Australia a net loss of 1,500 persons.
  • Persons aged 50 years and over, although comprising 30% of the total ERP, accounted for 16% of all interstate migrants. Queensland recorded the highest net gain in this age group (7,500 persons), while New South Wales had the highest net loss (6,300 persons).

  • At 30 June 2004 almost one quarter (24%) of the Australian population were born overseas.
  • People born in the United Kingdom accounted for 24% of all overseas-born residents in Australia's population, followed by New Zealand (9%), Italy (5%), China and Viet Nam (4% each).
  • The number of overseas-born Australian residents increased by 1.4% per year on average from 30 June 1996 to 30 June 2004. This was a larger increase than that of the Australia-born population (1.1%) and the total population (1.2%).
  • From 30 June 1996 to 30 June 2004, of the 50 most commonly stated countries of birth, Sudan-born people had the largest annual average increase (26%), followed by persons born in Afghanistan (12%) and Iraq (11%). The largest declines in this group were of Poland-born, Italy-born and Hungary-born residents (2% each).
  • The two regions of North-West Europe and Southern and Eastern Europe together accounted for nearly half of overseas-born residents in Australia at 30 June 2004 (31% and 18% respectively).
  • The median age of Australia's overseas-born population at 30 June 2004 was 47 years, higher than the Australia-born population (32 years) and the total population (36 years).
  • At 30 June 2001, Western Australia's population had the highest proportion of overseas-born residents (29%) compared with other states and territories, while Tasmania had the lowest proportion (11%).