Overseas migration drives Australia's population growth

Media Release

Australia's population grew by 2.2 per cent to 26.5 million people in the 12 months to 31 March this year, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Beidar Cho, ABS head of demography, said: “13 months after international borders were re-opened, net overseas migration accounted for 81 per cent of growth and added 454,400 people to the population in the year to March 2023.”

Net overseas migration was driven by a large increase in arrivals (up 103 per cent from last year to 681,000) and only a small increase in overseas migrant departures (up 8.8 per cent to 226,600). This pattern, low departures in particular, is a catch-up effect after closed international borders, as international students return with only a small number departing because very few arrived during the pandemic. This effect is expected to be temporary as the number of departures will increase in the future as temporary students start departing in usual numbers.

Natural increase was 108,800 people, a decrease of 18.5 per cent from last year. There were 301,200 births and 192,300 deaths registered during this time, with deaths increasing 7.9 per cent and births decreasing 3.4 per cent. COVID-19 mortality was still a contributor to an increased number of deaths.

Western Australia is the fastest growing state (+2.8 per cent) followed by Victoria (+2.4 per cent) and Queensland (+2.3 per cent). The largest increase in total population was Victoria with 161,700 people, slightly more than New South Wales with 156,300 people.

 Population at 31 March 2023 ('000)Change over previous year ('000)Change over previous year (%)
New South Wales8294.0156.31.9
South Australia1844.629.21.6
Western Australia2855.678.32.8
Northern Territory251.72.10.9
Australian Capital Territory464.68.92.0
Australia (a)26473.1563.22.2

a. Includes Other Territories comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island.

Media notes

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