2016 Census shows a growing, ageing, and more culturally diverse Australia

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Source: The Australian Bureau of Statistics Infographic 

The Census results, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today, reveal a picture of a changing Australia. Our nation is larger, older, more culturally diverse and less religious than at any other time in history.

A nation of 24.6 million and growth of 8.8% since the 2011 Census

On Census night in 2016, 23.4 million individuals who normally live in Australia were counted – an 8.8% increase from 2011. This doesn’t include the 300,000 visitors, or the 600,000 Australians who were overseas at the time. As at 31 December 2016, the ABS estimates a total population of 24.4 million (and today it is 24.6 million).

While New South Wales (7.5 million) and Victoria (5.9 million) remain our largest states, the fastest growing states were the ACT (11.2% growth), followed by Victoria (10.7%) and Western Australia (10.5%).

Cities absorb most of Australia’s growth

Two thirds (67%) of our nation lives in Australia’s capital cities, which have grown twice as fast as the rest of Australia over the past five years (10.5% compared to 5.7% for the remainder of Australia).

Our biggest capital city remains Sydney (4.8 million) which has grown 9.8% in five years, while Melbourne (4.4 million) is not far behind and edging closer with 12.1% growth. Our fastest growing cities since 2011 have been Darwin (14% growth), Melbourne (12%) and Perth (12%).

Migration is the key growth driver, led by migrants from China and India

1.3 million new migrants from 180 nations have come to call Australia home since 2011, with most of them settling in Sydney and Melbourne. Of the more than 6 million migrants who call Australia home, 18% have arrived since the start of 2012.

China (191,000 migrants; 14.4% growth) and India (163,000 migrants; 12.3% growth) are the top places of birth for migrants since 2011. This is followed by migrants from the UK (8.3% growth), New Zealand (7.4% growth) and the Philippines (4.9% growth).

Nearly half of us are ‘first’ or ‘second’ generation Aussies

Migration has changed Australia’s cultural landscape. 26.3% of Australians are now born overseas (up from 24.6% in 2011). Australians are most likely to have had at least one parent born overseas (both parents Australian born has declined from 50.0% to 47.3%).

While most Australians (73%) speak only English at home, more than a fifth of Australians (21%) speak one of the 300 or more languages spoken across our nation. Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Vietnamese (1.2%), and Cantonese (1.2%) are the most commonly spoken languages.

The top places of birth of all Australians who were born outside of Australia are England (3.9%, down from 4.2% in 2011), New Zealand (constant at 2.2%), China (2.2%, up from 1.5% in 2011), India (1.9%, up from 1.4% in 2011) and the Philippines (1.0%, up from 0.8%). European migrants tend to be much older than Asian born migrants, who are more likely to have come in recent years and are therefore younger.

Not only growing, but ageing

Australia has developed a middle-age spread as our population is ageing. As the proportion of the population aged over 50 has grown, the child and teenage population as a proportion has decreased. Those aged 65+ now represent 16% of the population (up from 14% in 2011). In Tasmania, Australia’s oldest state, almost one in five residents are aged 65 or older. Since 2011, the median age of an Australian has increased from 37 to 38.

Rise in single households

Since 2011, family households have declined in their proportion of all households (71.3% down from 71.5%), while single parent households have risen (from 24.3% to 24.4%), along with group households (from 4.1% to 4.3%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population increased

Almost 650,000 individuals of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin were recorded in the Census, comprising 2.8% of our population nationally. This is an increase of 18% since 2011 and a doubling since 1996. More than 3 in 5 of Australia’s recorded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population lives in New South Wales (33%) and Queensland (29%).

‘No religion’ the largest category of religion for the first time

Australia remains a predominantly religious country, with 60% reporting religious affiliation. More than half of Australians affiliate with Christianity (52%, down from 61% in the 2011 Census) while those who adhere to other religions (8%) has remained constant.

Islam (2.6%, increasing from 2.2% in 2011), Buddhism (2.4%; decreasing from 2.5%), Hinduism (1.9%; increasing from 1.3%), Sikhism (0.5%; increasing from 0.3%), and Judaism (0.4%; decreasing from 0.5%) are Australia’s largest ‘other’ religions.

‘No religion’ is now the single largest religious affiliation at 29.6% (larger than the most prominent Christian affiliation of Catholic at 22.6%), up from 21.8% in 2011.

Growing cost of living pressures in capital cities

Average household weekly incomes increased by 16.5%, from $1,234 in 2011 to 1,438. However, over the same period, median weekly rents increased by 17.5% (from $285 to $335 today). Median rent is highest in Sydney ($440/week) and Darwin ($420/week).

The proportion of Australians renting has increased to 30.9% (up from 29.6% in 2011), while 34.5% own their home with a mortgage (down from 34.9%) and 31% own outright (down from 32.1%).

Median mortgage repayments are highest in Sydney, Darwin, and Canberra, where mortgage repayments are well over $2,000 per month. Perth, Sydney & Melbourne have the highest proportion of mortgage holders who spend more than 30% of their income on their mortgage.

More than 1 in 5 Sydneysiders face ‘rental stress’ or ‘mortgage stress’

The housing crisis is greatest in Australia’s largest city. 8% of Sydneysiders face mortgage stress (paying more than 30% of their pre-tax income on their mortgage), and a further 14% face rental stress (paying more than 30% of their income to the landlord). Combined, 22% of Sydneysiders face significant housing affordability challenges.

Car ownership up

The proportion of households with no motor vehicles declined from 8.6% in 2011 to 7.5% in 2016. The proportion of households with two or more vehicles increased from 52.6% to 54.3%. While internet connections from home have increased since 2011, 14.1% of Australian households still do not access the internet from their dwelling.


For media commentary from our media team, please contact Kimberley Linco – kim@mccrindle.com.au or 02 8824 3422

Census Update - In the media

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Australian Census has been conducted every 5 years since 1911, and is the biggest democratic activity in Australia. While the election last year counted 14 million votes, the 2016 Census includes every household, age group, resident and visitor – all 24 million of us.

Here’s everything you need to know about the preliminary Census results, painting a picture of our changing nation.


The typical Australian is a 38 year-old Gen X woman, born in 1979, who can expect to live past the age of 85. She is married with two children and lives in one of Australia’s capital city (like 3 in 5 Australians), which is worth $825,980 and which she owns with a mortgage. She has $427,847 equity in their home, which is the bulk of her wealth. She works full-time and gets to work by car, along with 69% of all commuters.


We are ageing

The median age of Australians has increased from 37 to 38 (from the 2011 to the 2016 Census). Queensland has shown a strong leap in ageing (from 36 to 38), as has the Northern Territory (from a median age of 31 in 2011 to 34 in 2016).

We are culturally diverse

Three states (NSW, VIC, and WA) now feature their ‘typical’ resident as a person who has at least one parent born overseas. In NSW, China is now the top country of birth for residents born overseas and in VIC the top country for residents born overseas is India.

Owning a home outright is not as common anymore

The typical person across all of the states and territories now no longer owns a home outright, but with a mortgage. Only NSW and TAS feature the typical person who owns a home outright, and in the NT, the typical person is renting their home.

McCrindle In the media

Mark McCrindle on The Daily Edition

Eliane Miles on SBS News

Mark McCrindle on Seven News

McCrindle In the media

Latest Census Results: The 'Typical Aussie'

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

As demographers and social researchers there are a few calendar events that cause for celebration. Among them include population milestones, special data set releases and, of course, the Census.

The preliminary results from the 2016 Census, released this morning, show a picture of a changing Australia. 

We now have a clearer picture of the ‘typical’ Australian

The typical Australian is a 38 year-old Gen X woman, born in 1979, who can expect to live past the age of 85. She is married with two children and lives in one of Australia’s capital city (like 3 in 5 Australians), which is worth $825,980 and which she owns with a mortgage. She has $427,847 equity in their home, which is the bulk of her wealth. She works full-time and gets to work by car, along with 69% of all commuters.

We also have a picture of a changing Australia

Evidence of an ageing Australia

The median age of Australians has increased from 37 to 38 (from the 2011 to the 2016 Census). Queensland has shown a strong leap in ageing (from 36 to 38), as has the Northern Territory (from a median age of 31 in 2011 to 34 in 2016). The median age is varied across Australia, with the youngest median age found in the NT (34) while the oldest median age is found in Tasmania (42).

Cultural Diversity – Growth in non-Anglo country of birth

  • Three states (NSW, VIC, and WA) now feature their ‘typical’ resident as a person who has at least one parent born overseas.
  • In NSW: China is now the top country of birth for residents born overseas, surpassing England since the 2011 Census.
  • In VIC: The top country for residents born overseas is India, which has surpassed England since the 2011 Census. A decade ago (2006) the top countries of birth for residents born overseas didn’t include India (They were England, Italy, New Zealand and Vietnam).

Housing affordability and home ownership

The typical person across all of the states and territories now no longer owns a home outright, but with a mortgage. Only NSW and TAS feature the typical person who owns a home outright, and in the NT, the typical person is renting their home.

Was #censusfail real?

No – despite some hiccups on 9 August 2016, the numbers show that the data is robust and up to the best-practice quality of previous census'.

  • 96% of Australians completed the Census (just slightly lower than in 2011, and higher than the required 93% for census quality data).
  • Just 11,000 refused to fill out the Census (lower than 13,000 who refused in 2011).
  • 58% completed the Census online (against an expected 65%) – yet this is twice the number from 2011

What's next?

Today's snapshot is just the start of the Census data release. On June 27, the official Census datasets will be released, with further data coming out in July, October and the final data to be released in early 2018.

The good news is that after discussions to relegate the Census to every ten years, the once-every-five-year Census is here to stay..
So it will all be on again on Tuesday 10 August 2021!

For any media enquiries please contact Kimberley Linco at kim@mccrindle.com.au, or call our offices on +61 2 8824 3422.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


staying in equip ABS sector wide study litter entrepreneurial wealth inequality baby names poor village Jura Coffee public speaker pyrmont Netflix data marriages schools students easter employmer cultural diveristy bondi REIV Conference award NT high school speaker the great screenage university degree australians staying home more results woolworths school students Aussie cold generation Z communities global generations graphs urban social lives Tuesday Trend participants train Sydney keynote speaker statistics Deaths visual names Queensland English online shopping hornsby faux-cilising employmee case study debt shbc Res Vis engagement apartment TAS Bathburst work mates office space proactive commuting child care showreel 2016 census results Research Director food insecurity analysis educhat Retail mover and shaker urban development children New South Wales Duchess of Cambridge Sydney Hills Business Chamber student christianity future career religion personalities australian TEDx financial independence social research christmas 2017 happiness winter JOMO survey design baby boomers women FPA aussie culture Western Australia professional presenters public holiday population growth Hills Shire Council tv VIC ACF Aussies national private wealth speakers sydney speaker interactive investor Australia Day screenagers young australians online weather internship Performance Sentiment Index TED talk stay home mobile budget Skilling food 2017 dare to dream 23 million aged care puzzle global retail mythbusters neutral bay donate education future of education retirement demographer not for profit keynote forecasting media repayments 1975 toys South Australia hills fears insight builders ACT Report conference speaker casual state domestic eliane miles CPI social trends organisational culture Gen Z Expert financial future average sydneysider screenage goal typical australian REIV National Conference annual income resilience NSW volunteer home owner trends of 2017 10 years Charlotte hello fresh ideas Australian Census office social impact not for profit research Northern Territory customer Jura Australia teaching education research renting consumerism employers Christmas research rental stress Lower Hunter Region the australian dream salary australia housing market greatness city 24 million post rationalism investing local community consumer research services DESTEL trends charities leadership workshop Sydney’s south west authenticity culture marriage media activity mccrinlde survey overcast conferences US micro apartments geomapping Andrew Duffin school education future millionth affordable high density living social media supply and demand ageing population demography faux-cilise debate chairty Merry Christmas gen alpha business index McCrindle Speaker mccrindle tea blaxland global renter of the future Australian demographics office opening February 16 moreton bay define weekly earnings social issues Gen Y divorce rate report world Christmas lunch Mark McCrindle forum entertainment entrepreneur royal Christmas day brands coffee identity sydneysiders New Zealand World Water Day the lucky country norwest capital city younger generations presentation teleworking sunny days dream slideshare curiosity mythbusting Mark McCrindle in the media ACF2017 ethnography 2016 census financial fears cooking recap media commentary emerging generations logan program Australian Dream Channel Seven Australian Trends selfie baby names report university divorce sector wide SMART mining boom employment grandparents Mount Annan-Currant Hill local infographics parents 24,000,000 future-proof Love future proof micro Canberra communications cancelling event living cash Business analysis research report average aussie Macquarie University buildings quote baby name trends jobs jobs of the future The ABC of XYZ housing affordability Australian community trends schools learner princess charlotte marketing households offenders population map market research paying to work Crime Rates group socialising Kiwi thought leadership ipswich Real Estate Institute of Victoria professional services Wellington professional WA future of shopping Christmas data #censusfail bureau Australian Bureau of Statistics belief language networking earning organisations commuters friendship not-for-profit moderators guide business performance social life increasing densification Social Trend challenge Lower Hunter TED going out careers national crime rates Kirsten Brewer family mccrindle energy wages cost google for education easy rider anzac summer Hunter Valley urban living index omnibus FOMO priorities Queensland: QLD life Sydney population future of work nfp car SMSF baby boom Geoff Brailey the hills shire coffee lovers Sydney Lifestyle Study infographic wall tips kate middleton suburbs rise of local potts point sustainable australian communities forum 2012 sydney property market ashley mckenzie relevant in depth interviews social commentary panel Wagga Wagga Vocational education McCrindle Speakers facts business holiday menai EFF Australian Population waverton alpha contiki holidays 2020 experience christian HSC families sydneycity Northern beaches Event Valentine’s Day states unaffordable public transport optus System's Architect social shifts McCridle government care support volunteering data data analyst Royals tattoos internet Sydney rent communication IT Specialists researcher rich 1980 teacher owning a home focus groups video Willowdale medicine google baby sector future proofing innovative Elderslie-Harrington park year 7 generations millenials 40 million transport product SRE suburb VET visualisation work sports Australian Home non profit wealth and income distribution changing face of sydney crows nest gender trades vegetarian rain motivate Christchurch cloudy days qualitative research publication focus group hobart emerging trends Christmas season futurist ultimo James Ward society trends PSI Tasmania digital education sector research on coffee tertiary education world youth day megatrends ageing property keynote speaker workforce relational Melbourne ashley fell Australian Communities Trends know the times finance mateship earnings award winner eliane economy trend the hills gold coast year 12 CBD clothing mccrindle research spirituality environmental scanning collaboration Maxim Accounting household lifestyle Black Friday work-life new office social researcher national wealth real giving Australian Families socialites australian communities trends report land of the middle class low density financial dreams students brisbane baby name seasons snapshot Education Future Forum average Australian lalor park NBRS census 2016 sydney market story shopper's pick spend list urban taskforce sentiments property development Tuesday Trends hopes rising house prices young people Cobbitty-Leppington Myth social researchers resource community leader hills shire Christmas in Australia Territory intern newspaper victoria digital economy emerging technologies financial vegemite ACT Assistant Store Manager tea learning New Zeland wage demographic trends follow Work place safe teachers investment manly engage generational trends Black Friday in Australia winter blues tuesday townhouses "know the times" healthy future Word Up census fail Christmas presents wealth school satisfaction Financial Planning Association of Australia huffington post daily commute food bank innovation twentyseventeen 1994 brand events 1968 optus my business awards middle class learn community event optimistic internships the changing face of The Daily Edition research aged care Australians Hornsby Shire Council income fresh entrepreneurs of today wolloomooloo youth GPO apartments work from home demographic research data Black Friday Sales money high density apartments personal growth friends Population Clock faux-ciliser youth unemployment conference presentation affordability mortgage property market conference Scouts area What is food insecurity? Australian communities baby names australia report skills house price the average aussie 2016 balance responsive church thrive impact society shopping centre royal baby NFP event cost of living Real Estate monarchy cancelling plans grave decision long weekend social change politics communicate workplace plans australian social research house price rise January 26th house prices sun dreaming pharmacy social analysis poker master cartodb celebration home ownership housing trends gig economy study wellbeing who is generation z unemployment insights purpose ferry stats TEDx Speaker acf15 ACF 2016 outsourcing gig environment suburban living ease of travel shopping millennials travelling royal influence trends analyst meals McCrindle Keynote Speakers teach commute wealth and income deloitte TDE staff men earn Births educated housing growth learning styles sydney event urban living research visualisation wedding social commentator rule keeper financial planning public speaking brand experience cica dreams group session NEETs cars Northern Beaches Christian School demographic transformations live the dream water social analyst travel storytelling Financial Planning Week generation growth australian community trends report dessert charity workshop mccrindle in the media wealth distribution local communities father's day Engineering Manager etiquette in the media NBRS Architecture residents growth of sydney australian real estate economic data visualisation royal family house census results global financial crisis bus Do It Yourself Caregiver news christmas Generation X professional development cultural diversity shifts small business mother's day gen z choice workers SA volunteers social enquiry Northern Beaches population VET sector 2014 couple Australia Day 2017 education future report census Christmas day weather housing forecast darwin hunger speajer sydney metro census data ACF17 crime culturally diverse Financial Planning Association narcissism infographic Channel 7 sunburnt country Generation Y home Adelaide sydney hills breakfast change research pack perth prince george technology population milestone trend tuesday faith property price Research Executive trends of 2016 cancel plans Australian schools baby name predictions event professional speaker criminal generation alpha training parenting goals Wodonga Gen X tableau capital cities marrickville volunteering demographics media release collaborative mentor sydneysider growing population click Australia street daily telegraph 2015 donation workplace culture new york times pharmacies social community engagement speakers pack presentations meetings 2013 DIY leadership high density