Population grows but overseas migration decreases

Media Release

Australia's population grew by 0.9 per cent during the year to 30 September 2020 despite a decrease in overseas migration as COVID-19 related international travel restrictions continued to take effect.

Data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows Australia’s population at 30 September 2020 was 25.7 million people, an annual increase of 220,500 people.

ABS Demography Director Phil Browning said: "Natural increase accounted for 61.4 per cent of annual population growth, while net overseas migration accounted for the remaining 38.6 per cent.

“Over this 12 month period, there were 299,500 births and 164,100 deaths registered in Australia. Natural increase during this period was 135,400 people, a decrease of 3.8 per cent from the previous year.”

Net overseas migration was down 64.8 per cent compared to the previous year, driven by a decrease in overseas migration arrivals (35.4 per cent).

There were 365,700 overseas migration arrivals and 280,600 departures during the year ending 30 September 2020, resulting in net overseas migration of 85,100 people.

Annual population change by state and territory
 Population at 30 September 2020 ('000)Change over previous year ('000)Change over previous year (%)
New South Wales8166.450.60.6
South Australia1770.612.70.7
Western Australia2667.132.61.2
Northern Territory246.50.40.2
Australian Capital Territory431.23.40.8


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

Quarterly decline

The effects of Australia’s international border closure were reflected in the quarter June to September 2020 where a decline of -4,200 people or -0.02 per cent was recorded.

ABS Demography Director Phil Browning said: “Decreases to overseas migration have been observed over the last two quarters.  For this most recent quarter, the decrease was not outweighed by natural increase causing a small decline in population.”

“The last time we saw population decline was the year to December 1916, during World War 1 when the population declined by -51,500 (-1.0%)”.

Net overseas migration of -34,800 was the main driver for the quarterly population decline. There were 20,600 overseas arrivals and 55,400 overseas departures.

Statistics in this release are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting Australian Government closure of the international border from 20 March 2020.

For regional population estimates see Regional Population, Australia, available for free download from https://www.abs.gov.au/.

Media notes

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
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