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Migration, Australia methodology

Reference period
2017 - 2018
Released
3/04/2019

Explanatory notes

Introduction

1 This release brings together statistics on international migration into and out of Australia, internal migration within Australia (interstate and intrastate) and information on Australia's resident population by country of birth.

Population and components of population change

2 Australia’s population estimates for the period since 1971 are compiled according to the place of usual residence of the population. An explanation of the place of usual residence conceptual basis for population estimates is given in Information Paper: Population Concepts (cat. no. 3107.0.55.006) and also in Population Estimates: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 3228.0.55.001).

Method of estimation

3 Estimates of the resident population (ERP) are based on Census counts by place of usual residence, to which are added the estimated Census net undercount and the number of Australian residents estimated to have been temporarily overseas on Census night. Overseas visitors in Australia on Census night are excluded in this calculation. Post-Census ERP is obtained by adding to the estimated population at the beginning of each period the component of natural increase (on a usual residence basis) and the component of net overseas migration. For the states and territories, estimated interstate movements involving a change of usual residence are also taken into account.

4 After each Census, estimates for the preceding intercensal period are finalised (rebased) by incorporating an additional adjustment (intercensal difference) to ensure that the difference between the ERPs at the two 30 June dates in the respective Census years agrees with the total intercensal change.

Population estimates by country of birth

5 Population estimates by country of birth are compiled annually for Australia as at 30 June. These estimates, produced by single year of age and sex, classify the population according to country of birth.

6 Annual population estimates by country of birth for post-censal years are compiled by updating the Census year estimates in accordance with births, deaths and overseas migration. Each component of change is first converted to financial year of birth. The population for each country of birth by birth cohort are then updated.

7 Population estimates by country of birth by state and territory are only available for Census years. These estimates, produced by single year of age and sex, classify the population for each state and territory according to country of birth.

8 For more detailed information, see Chapter 2 - Estimating National and State Population in Population Estimates: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2006 (cat. no. 3228.0.55.001).

Status of quarterly Estimated Resident Population (ERP) data

9 The status of quarterly ERP data changes over time from preliminary to revised to final as new component data becomes available. ERP is updated most quarters due to revisions to the component data for earlier quarters, but will only change status to revised once both natural increase and net overseas migration for that quarter have a status of revised. The table below shows the current status of ERP and the components of population change: natural increase, overseas migration and interstate migration.

Status of quarterly Estimated Resident Population (ERP) data, as at 21 March 2019
Census baseNatural increaseOverseas migrationInterstate migrationERP STATUS
Sep.1991-Jun. 2016Based to 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 & 2016 Censuses as applicableFinalFinalFinalFINAL
Sep. 2016-Jun. 20172016 CensusRevised - based on date of occurrenceFinal - based on actual traveller behaviourPreliminary - based on modelled expansion factors from 2016 CensusREVISED
Sep. 20172016 CensusPreliminary - based on date of registrationFinal - based on actual traveller behaviourPreliminary - based on modelled expansion factors from 2016 CensusPRELIMINARY - updated due to revised component data
Dec. 2017-Jun. 20182016 CensusPreliminary - based on date of registrationPreliminary - based on modelled traveller behaviourPreliminary - based on modelled expansion factors from 2016 CensusPRELIMINARY - updated due to revised component data
Sep. 20182016 CensusPreliminary - based on date of registrationPreliminary - based on modelled traveller behaviourPreliminary - based on modelled expansion factors from 2016 CensusPRELIMINARY

Diplomatic personnel

10 Australia's ERP and estimates of NOM include all people, regardless of nationality or citizenship, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families. Therefore, foreign diplomatic personnel and their families are considered out of scope and were removed from NOM estimates from 1 July 2006. The previous methodology for estimating NOM was unable to exclude diplomatic personnel and their families.

    Net overseas migration (NOM)

    11 According to recommendations of the United Nations an international migrant is defined as "any person who changes his or her country of usual residence" (United Nations 1998). For the purposes of estimating NOM, and thereby Australia's official ERP counts, a person is regarded as a usual resident if they have been (or expect to be) residing in Australia for a period of 12 months or more over a 16 month period. As such, NOM and ERP estimates include all people, regardless of nationality, citizenship or legal status, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families.

    12 Conceptually, the term NOM is based on an international traveller's duration of stay being in or out of Australia for 12 months or more. It is the difference between the number of incoming travellers who stay in Australia for 12 months or more and are added to the population (NOM arrivals) and the number of outgoing travellers who leave Australia for 12 months or more and are subtracted from the population (NOM departures). With the introduction of the improved methods for estimating NOM, this 12 month period does not have to be continuous and is measured over a 16-month reference period. Therefore, whether a traveller is in or out of the population is determined by their exact duration of stay in or away from Australia over the subsequent 16 months after arrival or departure.

    Source of overseas migration data

    13 Administrative information on persons arriving in, or departing from, Australia is collected via various processing systems, passport documents, visa information, and incoming passenger cards. Aside from persons travelling as Australian or New Zealand citizens, persons travelling to Australia are required to provide information in visa applications. These administrative data are collected by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) under the authority of the Migration Regulations 1994 made under the Migration Act 1958.

    14 ABS statistics on overseas migration are mainly compiled using information from Home Affairs sources. All overseas movement records are stored on Home Affairs' Travel and Immigration Processing System (TRIPS). Each month all movement records, including those matched to an incoming passenger card, are supplied to the ABS and then processed. From July 2017, due to the removal of the outgoing passenger card, the ABS has also used Medicare enrolment data as a secondary source of State of residence information for Australian residents.

    15 Each month all overseas arrivals and departures (OAD) movement records are processed by the ABS to produce OAD statistics. This processed OAD data is then used to produce quarterly NOM estimates. Statistics on OAD and related data quality issues are published on a monthly basis in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0). Quarterly NOM estimates contribute to quarterly ERP and are released in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0).

    16 Statistics on overseas migration exclude: multiple movements; the movements of operational air and ships' crew; transit passengers who pass through Australia but are not cleared for entry; passengers on pleasure cruises commencing and finishing in Australia and undocumented arrivals. From 1 July 2006 onwards, foreign diplomatic personnel and their families are also excluded.

    Reasons for change of methods used to estimate NOM

    17 During a reconciliation of 1996-2001 intercensal population growth estimates (including measures of immigration, emigration and NOM) with the results of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, the ABS identified that inconsistent results were arising from a 1998 passenger card processing change and the measurement of temporary visitors' duration of stay in Australia, or Australian residents' temporary duration of absence from Australia.

    18 The ABS noted that the precise measurement of duration of stay in Australia or absence from Australia using a comparison of border crossing transactions may lead to a misleading categorisation of frequent travellers to short-term, when their overall period of stay or absence in a broader context was long-term punctuated by short journeys. For example, an international student in Australia for a three or four year course of study, who leaves Australia briefly each year for holiday or other reasons, would incorrectly not be added to estimates of Australia's population. This was because after the passage of time, they did not spend a continuous period of 12 months in Australia during their long-term period of stay in Australia (the previous method of measurement). This was inconsistent with the intention behind the definition of a long-term migrant as set out in the United Nations Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration, Revision 1 (1998, 18) and the ABS Estimated Resident Population conceptual definition. The use of single continuous periods of stay as the criteria (i.e. 12 continuous months) for classifying travellers into the non-permanent migration categories (e.g. short-term visitor, long-term visitor) was seen as a major shortcoming in the measurement of NOM and consequently estimates of Australia's resident population.

    19 Further, there were some travellers such as permanent immigrants and emigrants who were not asked their intended duration of stay or absence on Australian passenger cards, yet it was observed that after a passage of less than a year, some permanent immigrants departed Australia and some permanent emigrants returned to Australia. The ABS also identified a need to convert the multiple border movements information for frequent travellers within a reference period to individual person estimates together with their travel history over time to avoid double counting.

    20 The method for estimating NOM was reviewed in 2004 in response to the issues arising with the previous estimation of category jumping (i.e. changes between stated intention and actual duration of stay of travellers to/from Australia). The review also addressed the changing patterns of travel into and out of Australia, in particular the increased propensity for travellers to interrupt longer periods of stay or absence with short-term trips.

    21 The methodology and estimation system adopted by the ABS for measuring NOM and the contribution to Australia's ERP more closely aligns with the international definitions set out by the United Nations. The ABS has not changed the statistical conceptual definition of net overseas migration. However, the method of measurement has changed.

    22 The ABS developed and introduced an improved method, called the '12/16 month rule' methodology, for estimating NOM. It has been used in calculating Australia's official ERP since September quarter 2006. The '12/16 month rule' methodology is a result of reviewing the treatment of temporary migrants (both long-term and short-term) who are away from or resident in Australia for a period of 12 months or more.

    23 Estimates of NOM based on the previous methods and those based on the '12/16 month rule' methodology are not comparable. The key change is the introduction of the '12/16 month rule' for measuring a person's residency in Australia, replacing the previous '12/12 month rule'.

    24 In an initiative to create a more efficient and streamlined process for travellers departing Australia, the requirement for international travellers to complete an outgoing passenger card was removed by the Department of Home Affairs from 1 July 2017. Due to the removal of the card the ABS has reviewed its net overseas migration (NOM) statistics, methodology and processing systems. Historical NOM data from September quarter 2011 onwards has been produced based on the new methods and has been used in the 2011-2016 intercensal period as part of the final rebasing of population estimates. As NOM estimates cannot be finalised until 16 months after the reference period, NOM is subject to revision. Testing has shown that the revision between preliminary and final NOM using the new methodology has improved when compared to the previous method. For further information see the Information Paper: Improvements to estimation of net overseas migration (cat. no. 3412.0.55.004).

    25 For further information on the improvements to NOM estimation over time and changes to the revision schedule for NOM, see:

    26 For further information on the '12/16 month rule' methodology see:

    Estimating NOM with the '12/16 month rule' (current method used)

    27 The current NOM estimation methods employ the '12/16 month rule' where the traveller can be added or subtracted from NOM if they have stayed in or been absent from Australia for a period of 12 months or more over a 16 month period. This period of 12 months does not have to be continuous. Although a traveller states their intended duration of stay on a passenger card, for NOM purposes the ABS now measures an individual's actual travel behaviour (or models this behaviour for preliminary NOM).

    28 To measure a traveller's actual duration of stay the ABS uses a unique personal identifier provided with the administrative data supplied by Home Affairs. To be able to apply the '12/16 month rule', the personal identifier is used to match a traveller's movements over time and construct a movement history for each arrival and departure record.

    Travellers vs movements

    29 Conceptually, NOM estimates are based on counts of travellers, rather than counts of overseas movements, since travellers may have more than one movement in a particular reference period. Under the previous system of NOM estimation, a number of adjustments to overseas arrivals and departures were required. These mainly comprised adjustments designed to reflect differences between stated travel intentions and actual travel behaviour. However, adjustments were also required to transform numbers of overseas movements into numbers of travellers.

    30 One of the central changes with the '12/16 month rule' methodology is that all estimation is based on actual individual travellers and their travel histories (using de-identified data), rather than in the previous methodology when an aggregation of movements represented travellers.

    Final NOM estimates

    31 It is with the final NOM estimates that the '12/16 month rule' can be fully applied. A traveller's actual duration of stay can only be calculated when data on overseas movements become available for the 16 months following a reference period. Final NOM estimation methods use ERP flags to determine if a traveller, through their actual duration of stay in or out of Australia, should be included or excluded from NOM estimates and consequently ERP estimates.

    Preliminary NOM estimates

    32 Preliminary estimates of NOM are required within six months after the reference quarter for the production of quarterly estimates of the population of Australia, and the states and territories. At that time, complete traveller histories for the 16 months following a reference quarter cannot be produced. To estimate preliminary NOM, the ABS uses a propensity model that estimates a traveller's propensity to contribute to NOM using the observed behaviour of similar travellers from one year earlier. Travellers with similar characteristics are grouped according to specific variables. The variables used are: age, country of citizenship, direction of first and last movement in the reference quarter, initial ERP status, time spent out of Australia, and visa group. To create the preliminary NOM estimates, the migration propensities determined for the donor groupings from one year earlier are applied to similarly grouped travellers from the reference quarter being estimated.

    33 In 2017, the removal of the outgoing passenger card by Home Affairs resulted in further changes in the data and methods used in the calculation of NOM. Of these changes, those most significant are:

    • The inclusion of an additional month of movement data (allowing four months after the reference period) - this further reduced the pool of travellers required to use the propensity model, improving the accuracy of preliminary NOM estimation.
    • Changes in data sources for state/territory of residence - data previously sourced from the outgoing passenger card is now collected from alternate sources including an incoming passenger card for that traveller and information from Medicare enrolment records for Australian residents.
    • Incorporating improvements to the personal identifier (known as PID) for movement records - updates to PID data supplied by Home Affairs each month are used to improve the quality of travel histories that are produced for each traveller. As a consistent PID is crucial for determining a traveller's actual duration in or out of the country, this has been essential in improving the quality of NOM estimation.
    • Revisions to imputation methodology in the OAD system - these now flow into the variables used in the production of NOM statistics.
       

    34 For detailed information on the 2017 changes in OAD data including imputation, secondary sources used, and in particular information on the state/territory of residence, see Data Quality Issues (Appendix) in the Methodology of Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0).

    35 Preliminary estimates using the new method for estimating NOM after the removal of the outgoing passenger card were implemented in the ABS' official NOM and population estimates for September quarter 2011 onwards with the release of the December quarter 2017 issue of Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0). For further information on the new method see the Information Paper: Improvements to estimation of net overseas migration (cat. no. 3412.0.55.004).

    Estimating NOM with a '12/12 month rule' (previous method used)

    36 Prior to 1 July 2006, NOM estimation methods used a '12/12 month rule' to determine if a traveller contributed to ERP. This meant that in order for a person to contribute to NOM they must stay in or be absent from Australia for a continuous period of 12 out of 12 months. It compared data on actual travel movements over a 12 month period with data on individual travellers' duration of stay as recorded on their passenger cards. In order to conduct such a comparison, data for a 15 month period (i.e. one year plus one quarter) were required. For more information see the Technical Note in Migration, Australia, 2006-07 (cat. no. 3412.0) - Measuring Net Overseas Migration, Method Used September quarter 2001 to June quarter 2006 and Demography Working Paper 2003/5 - Net Overseas Migration: Adjusting for Actual Duration of Stay or Absence (cat. no. 3137.0).

    Methods used for estimating NOM and revision status

    37 Due to changes in the methods used to adjust NOM estimates, caution should be used comparing estimates over time. The table below describes the adjustment methods that have been applied to NOM estimates from September quarter 1996 onwards.

    Methods used for NOM - September quarter 1996 onwards
    PeriodStatus of NOMMethod used
    September 1996 - June 1997Final'Category jumping' adjustments applied using previous methodology (12/12 month rule)(a)
    September 1997 - June 2001FinalNo adjustments applied (i.e. 'category jumping' set to zero) (12/12 month rule)
    September 2001 - June 2006FinalMigration adjustments applied, based at the aggregate level (12/12 month rule)(b)
    September 2006 - June 2011FinalActual duration of stay/absence, based at the individual traveller level (12/16 month rule)(c)
    September 2011 - December 2016FinalActual duration of stay/absence, based at the individual traveller level (12/16 month rule) - changes to input data(d)
    March 2017 and onwardsPreliminaryTraveller's propensity to contribute to NOM using observed behaviour of similar travellers from one year earlier, based at the individual traveller level (12/16 month rule)(d)
    1. See Appendix 3 in Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 3228.0).
    2. See Technical Note: Measuring Net Overseas Migration, Method Used September quarter 2001 to June quarter 2006 in Migration, Australia, 2006-07 (cat. no. 3412.0).
    3. See Technical Note: '12/16 month rule' methodology for Calculating Net Overseas Migration from September quarter 2006 onwards.
    4. See Information Paper: Improvements to the Estimation of Net Overseas Migration (cat. no. 3412.0.55.004).

    Permanent residency grants

    38 A number of people arriving temporarily in Australia are subsequently granted permanent residency. These permanent residency grants contribute to the Australian Government's immigration targets but may be unrelated to the stated intentions of travellers on arrival. Accordingly, they are not included in unadjusted permanent arrivals as they did not arrive in Australia on a permanent basis but would be included in final NOM figures from 1 July 2006 onwards (if satisfying the "12/16 month rule"). The proportions of temporary arrivals subsequently gaining onshore grants of permanent residency are not estimated in ABS statistics.

    39 For more information on onshore additions to the population see the Home Affairs publication, Immigration Update, or Population Flow: Immigration aspects available on the Home Affairs web site, http://www.homeaffairs.gov.au.

    Overseas arrivals and departures (OAD) statistics

    40 The ABS statistics on overseas arrivals and departures (OAD) are calculated using administrative data collected and compiled by Home Affairs under the authority of the Migration Regulations (Migration Act, 1958). The monthly OAD publication contains statistics on the travel movements of all persons arriving in, and departing from, Australia. Its main focus is to provide information and analysis of short-term movements (i.e. less than one year), in particular short-term visitor arrivals (STVA) and short-term resident returns (STRR). Statistics on overseas arrivals and departures relate to the number of movements of travellers rather than the number of travellers. Individuals who travel multiple times in a year are counted each time they cross Australia's borders. Permanent and long-term movements from OAD statistics are not an appropriate source of migration statistics.

    The 2017 review and break in series

    41 From 1 July 2017, travellers leaving Australia are no longer required to complete an Outgoing Passenger Card (OPC). Due to the removal of the OPC by the Department of Home Affairs, the ABS undertook a review of its Overseas Arrivals and Departures (OAD) statistics, methodology and processing systems. This provided an opportunity to consider alternative data sources and ways to make better use of a range of existing data collected by Home Affairs about Australia's international border crossings. Detailed information on the changes and improvements arising from the 2017 review of OAD statistics appears in the Data Quality Issues (Data Quality Issues Appendix) in the Explanatory Notes section in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0).

    42 The review has resulted in a break in series, necessitating a revised time series for OAD data from July 2007 to June 2017 based on the new methodology. Figures prior to June 2007 may not be strictly comparable to those which follow.

    Scope

    43 Overseas arrivals and departures statistics relate to the number of movements of travellers rather than the number of travellers (i.e. multiple movements of individual persons during a given reference period are each counted separately). The statistics exclude the movements of operational air and ships' crew, of transit passengers who pass through Australia but are not cleared for entry, and of passengers on pleasure cruises commencing and finishing in Australia. Similarly, these statistics exclude undocumented arrivals or departures.

    Net interstate migration

    44 At the national level, population change is the result of births, deaths and net overseas migration. At the state/territory level, an extra component of population change exists - net interstate migration. This is the net difference between arrivals to a state/territory from the rest of Australia and departures from that state/territory to the rest of Australia. Interstate migration is therefore an important determinant of population change and distribution of the states and territories.

    45 Within Australia, there is no requirement for a person who changes their state of usual residence to register their move. Unlike overseas movements, which are recorded at Australia's borders, there are no direct quarterly measure of arrivals and departures between the states and territories. To be able to measure state/territory population change on a quarterly basis estimates of interstate migration are therefore required.

    Sources of interstate migration data

    46 The Census is one source of information, with people being asked where they lived one year ago and five years ago. However, as the Census is held only every five years, this is insufficient for producing quarterly interstate migration estimates. Another source of data is therefore necessary.

    47 Interstate migration is a key determinant of the accuracy of state and territory population estimates. Data on interstate migration cannot be directly estimated unlike that of natural increase and net overseas migration. Instead, post-censal quarterly estimates of interstate migration are modelled using administrative by-product data. Over time, the ABS has used a number of administrative data sources to produce quarterly estimates of interstate migration, including electoral roll registrations and family allowance payments. Currently the ABS uses information on interstate change of address advised to Medicare Australia and to the Department of Defence in the case of the military.

    48 Due to incomplete coverage and the non-compulsory nature of available administrative (indirect) data sources, post-censal quarterly estimates of interstate migration have long been considered the weakest measure of a component of population change at the state and territory level.

    Rebasing and re-derivation of interstate migration

    49 The Medicare-based model used for generating post-censal estimates of interstate migration is largely superseded when new Census information becomes available. For example, every five years, after data from the following Census have been finalised, the modelled estimates are reviewed against, and potentially replaced by, the interstate migration estimates that are calculated from the Census (i.e. rebased to the Census). This is known as the re-derivation of interstate migration.

    50 Part of the process of rebasing Census counts for the ERP of the states and territories is the re-derivation of interstate migration for the intercensal period. The overall approach is to minimise state intercensal difference using information from the two Census questions on usual residence one year ago and five years ago to estimate interstate movements. Where this Census information does not reduce the intercensal difference, the rebased interstate migration estimates remain largely unchanged from the Medicare-based model.

    Interstate migration method

    51 Post-censal quarterly estimates of net interstate migration are created for the states and territories (excluding Other Territories) using interstate change of address advised to Medicare Australia and to the Department of Defence in the case of the military. Medicare data are adjusted by means of expansion factors. These expansion factors are used to account for an under coverage of Medicare data by various ages and sex. For example, it is known that some people, particularly younger Medicare card holders, do not register changes of address with Medicare, or do so long after the fact.

    52 Expansion factors are used in the calculation of post-censal quarterly estimates of net interstate migration and remain constant throughout the intercensal period until once again they are reviewed after final data from the following Census becomes available. They are calculated for each state and territory (excluding Other Territories), single year of age, sex and movement direction (i.e. arrivals or departures). For further information see Technical Note 2, 2016 Census Update of the Net Interstate Migration Model in Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec 2017 (cat. no. 3101.0).

    53 Medicare theoretically covers all Australian usual residents as well as those non-Australian residents granted temporary Medicare registration. However, there are a range of Australian usual residents who do not access the Medicare system, primarily due to access to alternative health services. One group is the military. As such, estimates of interstate migration produced from the interstate migration model described in Technical Note 2, 2016 Census Update of the Net Interstate Migration Model in Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec 2017 (cat. no. 3101.0).

    54 For further information on the process of estimating interstate migration and the administrative data used, see

    Regional migration method

    55 In 2016, the ABS developed a new series of annual regional internal migration estimates (RIME) based on the 2011 edition of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). Excel and ABS.Stat datasets attached to the 2014-15 issue of this product provide summaries of this data for the years ending 30 June 2007 to 2015, and include datasets by migration type, age, sex, and various sub-state geographies. The 2015-16 estimates were released on 26 May 2017.

    56 Regional internal migration is the movement of people from one region to another within Australia (both interstate and intrastate). For example, it incorporates moves from a Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) to any other SA2 within the country. Net regional internal migration is the net gain or loss of population through this movement.

    57 The Medicare and Defence data used for estimating interstate migration is now also used to estimate internal migration below the state/territory level. However, as Medicare and Defence change of address information is supplied to the ABS by postcode a method was developed to convert these counts to SA2, the base spatial unit of the ASGS. The method involved using correspondences to convert to SA2, and various adjustments were applied to account for known deficiencies in the Medicare and Defence data. A similar method was used to prepare RIME at the Local Government Area (LGA) level, based on 2011 boundaries.

    58 In August 2012, experimental regional internal migration estimates were released in the 2010-11 issue of Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0), based on the 2011 edition of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). The method used to prepare these estimates was summarised in Discussion Paper: Assessment of Methods for Developing Experimental Historical Estimates of Regional Internal Migration (cat. no. 3405.0.55.001). The same method has been used to prepare the current series of regional internal migration, however the more recent series has been updated to the current statistical geography (ASGS).

    59 Estimates for years 2011 to 2015 have been constrained to published interstate migration estimates. Very small cells have been randomised and for some regions with very small populations and unreliable data, internal migration estimates were assumed to be zero.

    60 RIME are not directly comparable with estimated resident populations (ERPs) because of the different methods and source data used to prepare each series. The combination of natural increase and net migration (internal and overseas) therefore may not correspond with change in ERP. For information on how ERP is prepared see the Explanatory Notes of Regional Population Growth, Australia (cat. no. 3218.0).

    Country classification

    61 The classification of countries in this release is the Standard Australian Classification of Countries, 2016. For more detailed information, refer to the ABS publication Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) 2016 (cat. no. 1269.0) or the Country Classification excel spreadsheet in the Data downloads section of this release.

    62 The statistics on country of residence or main destination, and country of embarkation have certain limitations because of reporting on passenger cards. For instance, the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man (UK, CI & IOM) includes England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. Many travellers just list the UK. Similarly the United States of America includes 'America (undefined)'.

    State and territory classification

    63 Prior to the 1996 Census, no external territories were included in geographical Australia although Census data were collected for Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Following amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 effective from July 1992, the two external territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands became part of geographical Australia. Since the 1996 Census, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and the Jervis Bay Territory (previously linked to the Australian Capital Territory for statistical purposes) have been grouped under 'Other Territories'. From 1 July 2016 Norfolk Island has been included in the Other Territory category following the introduction of the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015.

    64 Although the Census and Statistics Act 1905 does not require quarterly estimation of the population for the territories, estimates for the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and the Other Territories are produced as these territories are included in the geographical area of Australia, and, with the states, sum to the Australian population.

    Confidentiality

    65 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must take care and make assurances that any statistical information about individual respondents cannot be derived from published data.

    66 Some techniques used to guard against identification or disclosure of confidential information in statistical tables are suppression of sensitive cells, and random adjustments to cells with very small values. To protect confidentiality within this release, some cell values may have been suppressed and are not available for publication (np) but included in totals where applicable. In these cases, data may not sum to totals due to the confidentialisation of individual cells.

    67 To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals. The introduction of perturbation in publications ensures that these statistics are consistent with statistics released via services such as Table Builder.

    Rounding

    68 In this release, estimates and their components have sometimes been rounded. Rounded figures and un-rounded figures should not be assumed to be accurate to the last digit shown. Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals.

    Additional statistics available

    69 Additional information is available on the ABS web site http://www.abs.gov.au.

    70 The ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Generally, a charge is made for providing this information. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

    71 With the introduction of '12/16 month rule' methodology for estimating NOM, the ABS also developed an analytical data set called the Travellers' Characteristics Database. The improvements allow the derivation of an individual's actual true travel behaviour (using final NOM data) and record certain characteristics for any traveller who has contributed to NOM whether they are a NOM arrival or a NOM departure. The database provides for additional analysis on final NOM data. The following variables may be made available on request for final data only:

    • Age;
    • Country of birth;
    • Country of citizenship (nationality);Country of previous residence;
    • Direction;
    • Initial category of travel (permanent departures not available from Sep quarter 2011);
    • Main reason for journey (not available for permanent movements, residents departing or visitors departing)
    • Marital status (not available from Sep quarter 2011 or for Australian and New Zealand citizens);
    • Reference year (available from 2004);
    • Sex;
    • State or Territory of residence;
    • Visa applicant type (primary or secondary applicant - available from Sep quarter 2011);
    • Visa subclass (includes separate groups for Australian citizens and NZ citizens).
       

    Acknowledgements

    72 This publication draws extensively on information provided by Home Affairs, Medicare and the Department of Defence. The ABS also uses information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

    Appendix - passenger cards

    Show all

    1. Image: INCOMING CARD - FRONT (This sample is not for public use)

    Image: INCOMING CARD - FRONT (This sample is not for public use)

    1. Image: INCOMING CARD - FRONT (This sample is not for public use)

    The Incoming Passenger Card is to be completed by passengers entering Australia. The passenger card also serves as a declaration in relation to health and character requirements for non-Australian citizens and is a visa application form for special category visa applicants.

    On the front of the card, passengers are required to accurately provide: family/surname, given names, passport number, flight number or name of ship, intended address in Australia and if they intend to live in Australia for the next 12 months.

    There are also a number of declaration questions relating to customs and quarantine, including: If you are not an Australian citizen, do you have tuberculosis, do you have any criminal conviction/s?

    Are you bringing into Australia: goods that may be prohibited or subject to restrictions, such as medicines, steroids, illegal pornography, firearms, weapons or illicit drugs? More than 2250mL of alcoholic beverages or 25 cigarettes or 25g of tobacco products? Goods obtained overseas or purchased duty and/or tax free in Australia with a combined total price of more than AUD$900, including gifts? Goods/samples for business/ commercial use? AUD$10,000 or more in Australian or foreign currency equivalent? Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, fruit, vegetables? Grains, seeds, bulbs, straw, nuts, plants, parts of plants, traditional medicines or herbs, wooden articles? Animals, parts of animals, animal products including equipment, pet food, eggs, biologicals, specimens, birds, fish, insects, shells, bee products? Soil items with soil attached or used in freshwater areas e.g. sports/recreational equipment, shoes? Have you been in contact with farms, farm animals, wilderness areas or freshwater streams/lakes etc in the past 30 days? Were you in Africa, South/Central America or the Caribbean in the last 30 days?

    The respondent to these questions must mark an X to answer every yes or no question. If they are unsure they must mark X in yes.
    Passengers are required to provide a declaration and sign and date the completed card. The declaration states 'The information I have given is true, correct and complete. I understand failure to answer any questions may have serious consequences'.

    2. Image: INCOMING CARD – BACK (This sample is not for public use)

    Image: INCOMING CARD – BACK (This sample is not for public use)

    2. Image: INCOMING CARD – BACK (This sample is not for public use)

    The Incoming Passenger Card is to be completed by passengers entering Australia. The passenger card also serves as a declaration in relation to health and character requirements for non-Australian citizens and is a visa application form for special category visa applicants.

    On the back of the card, passengers are required to accurately provide: contact details in Australia and emergency contact details (including phone number, email or address), the country in which they boarded the flight/vessel, their occupation, nationality as shown on their passport, and date of birth. Additionally, passengers will fill out box A, B, or C depending on if they are migrating permanently to Australia (box A), a visitor/temporary entrant (box B), or a resident returning to Australia (box C). If it is box B, passengers will also be asked: their intended length of stay in Australia in years, months or days, their country of residence, and their main reason for travel, to be selected from convention/conference, business, visiting friends or relatives, employment, education, exhibition, holiday, other. The passenger can only select one of the options. If it is box C, passengers will be asked: country where they spent most time abroad, and their main reason for travel, to be selected from convention/conference, business, visiting friends or relatives, employment, education, exhibition, holiday, other. The passenger can only select one of the options.

    Information sought on this form is required to administer immigration, customs, quarantine, statistical, health, wildlife and other currency laws of Australia and its collection is authorised by legislation. It is disclosed only to agencies administering these areas and authorised or required to receive it under Australian law. Form 1442i Privacy notice is available from the department's website www.border.gov.au/allforms/

    Incoming passenger card used from July 2017.

    Glossary

    Show all

    12/12 month rule

    A method for measuring an overseas traveller's duration of stay or absence in which the 12 month usual residence criterion in population estimates is measured across a 12 month period. Under a 12/12 month rule, overseas travellers must be resident in Australia for a continuous 12 month period or more to be included in the estimated resident population. Similarly, Australian residents travelling overseas must be absent from Australia for a continuous 12 month period or more to be removed from the estimated resident population.

    12/16 month rule

    A method for measuring an overseas traveller's duration of stay or absence which takes an approach to measure usual residence that does not have to be continuous, as opposed to the continuous approach used under a '12/12 month rule'. Under a '12/16 month rule', incoming overseas travellers (who are not currently counted in the population) must be resident in Australia for a total period of 12 months or more, during the 16 month follow-up period to then be included in the estimated resident population. Similarly, those travellers departing Australia (who are currently counted in the population) must be absent from Australia for a total of 12 months or more during the 16 month follow-up period to then be subtracted from the estimated resident population.

    The 12/16 month rule therefore takes account of those persons who may have left Australia briefly and returned, while still being resident for 12 months out of 16. Similarly, it takes account of Australians who live most of the time overseas but periodically return to Australia for short periods.

    Australian resident

    For estimated resident population statistics, the Census year population estimates classify a person as an Australian resident if the person has (in the most recent Census) reported a usual address in Australia where the person has lived or intends to live for six months or more in the Census year. The post-censal estimates, while based on the Census data, are updated with international migration data that have a criterion of one year or more of intended stay in or departure from Australia.

    Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)

    The ASGC was the geographical framework formerly used by the ABS for the collection and dissemination of geographically classified statistics. From 1 July 2011 the ASGC has been replaced with the Australian Statistical Geography Standard as the framework for understanding and interpreting the geographical context of ABS statistics.

    Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS)

    The ASGS brings all the regions for which the ABS publishes statistics within the one framework and has been in use for the collection and dissemination of geographically classified statistics since 1 July 2011. It is the current framework for understanding and interpreting the geographical context of statistics published by the ABS.

    Average annual rate of growth

    The average annual growth rate, \(r\), is calculated as a percentage using the formula:

    \(r=\left[\left(\frac{P_{n}}{P_{0}}\right)^{\frac{1}{n}}-1\right] \times 100\)

    where \(P_{0}\) is the population at the start of the period, \(P_{n}\) is the population at the end of the period and \(n\) is the length of the period between \(P_{n}\) and \(P_{0}\) in years.

    Capital city

    Refers to the Greater Capital City Statistical Areas of states and territories as defined in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard.

    Category jumping

    Category jumping was the term used to describe changes between intended and actual duration of stay of travellers to/from Australia, such that their classification as short-term or as long-term/permanent movers was different at arrival/departure from that after 12 months. For more information see Migration, Australia, 2002-03, (cat. no. 3412.0), Chapter 6, 'Special article: Adjustments to overseas migration estimates'.

    The Australian resident component of category jumping for a reference quarter was estimated by comparing the number of residents stating a short-term departure on the passenger card in that quarter with all residents who left in that quarter and returned in the following 12 months, to obtain the net number of Australian residents who 'jumped category'.

    Similarly, the number of overseas visitors stating a short-term arrival on the passenger card was compared with all overseas visitors who arrived in that quarter and departed in the following 12 months, to obtain the net number of overseas visitors 'who jumped category'.

    Estimates of net category jumping were derived by subtracting the Australian resident component from the overseas visitor component.

    Since September quarter 2006, category jumping is no longer used following the implementation of the '12/16 month rule' methodology for estimating net overseas migration.

    Category of movement

    Overseas Arrivals and Departures data are classified according to length of stay (in Australia or overseas), as recorded by travellers on passenger cards, or derived with reference to previous border crossings. There are three main categories of movement and 10 sub-categories:

    • permanent movement;
       
      • permanent arrival (PA)
      • permanent departure (PD) - only available prior to July 2007.
         
    • long-term movement - has a duration of stay (or absence) of one year or more; and
       
      • long-term resident return (LTRR)
      • long-term visitor arrival (LTVA)
      • long-term resident departure (LTRD)
      • long-term visitor departure (LTVD).
         
    • short-term movement - has a duration of stay (or absence) of less than one year;
       
      • short-term resident return (STRR)
      • short-term visitor arrival (STVA)
      • short-term resident departure (STRD)
      • short-term visitor departure (STVD).
         

    Census

    The complete enumeration of a population at a point in time with respect to well-defined characteristics (e.g. Persons, Manufacturing, etc.). When the word is capitalised, "Census" usually refers to the national Census of Population and Housing.

    Census count

    The Census of Population and Housing enumerates persons on the basis of where they were located on Census Night. The Census also compiles information on people according to their place of usual residence. This means that Census counts of people can be produced according to their location on Census Night as well as their place of usual residence. Characteristics of households are based on persons usually resident in a dwelling.

    Country of birth

    Country of birth refers to the country in which a traveller was born in. For Overseas Arrivals and Departures data and Net Overseas Migration data, the country of birth is usually collected from a traveller's passport or visa information.

    The classification of countries is the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016. For more detailed information refer to Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016(cat. no. 1269.0).

    Country of citizenship

    Country of citizenship is the nationality of a person. For overseas migration data it is usually taken from a traveller's passport or visa information and in some cases from passenger card.

    Country of embarkation

    Country of embarkation is collected from the country a traveller indicates on their passenger card from answering the following question:

    • For someone arriving in Australia - In which country did you board this flight or ship?
       

    Country of residence/stay

    Country of residence/stay is collected from the country a traveller indicates on their passenger card.

    • For overseas visitors to Australia, it is their country of residence prior to travel as recorded on their passenger card or visa.
    • For Australian residents, it is the country they spent the most time abroad (i.e. their country of stay).
       

    Emigration

    The process of leaving one country to take up permanent or semi-permanent residence in another.

    Estimated resident population (ERP)

    The official measure of the population of Australia is based on the concept of usual residence. It refers to all people, regardless of nationality, citizenship or legal status, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families. It includes usual residents who are overseas for less than 12 months over a 16 month period. It excludes overseas visitors who are in Australia for less than 12 months over a 16 month period.

    Estimates of the Australian resident population are generated on a quarterly basis by adding natural increase (the excess of births over deaths) and net overseas migration (NOM) occurring during the period to the population at the beginning of each period. This is known as the cohort component method, and can be represented by the following equation:

    P\(_{t+1}\) = Pt + B - D + NOM, where:

    P\(t\) = the estimated resident population at time point t

    P\(_{t+1}\) = the estimated resident population at time point t+1

    B = the number of births occurring between t and t+1

    D = the number of deaths occurring between t and t+1

    NOM = net overseas migration occurring between t and t+1.

    For state and territory population estimates, an additional term is added to the equation representing net interstate migration (NIM) occurring between t and t+1, represented by the following equation:

    P\(_{t+1}\)= Pt + B - D + NOM + NIM.

    Greater Capital City Statistical Area (GCCSA)

    An area defined in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard built up from whole Statistical Areas Level 4 to represent the socioeconomic area of each of the eight state and territory capital cities. GCCSAs contain not only the urban area of the capital city, but also surrounding and non-urban areas where much of the population has strong links to the capital city, through for example, commuting to work.

    Immigration

    The process of entering one country from another to take up permanent or semi-permanent residence.

    Initial category of travel

    Only used as an output variable from net overseas migration (NOM) statistics. It provides information on what an individual's initial category of travel was before they contribute to becoming either a NOM arrival or a NOM departure. For a list of the categories see category of movement.

    Intended length of stay

    On arrival in Australia, all overseas visitors are asked to state their 'Intended length of stay in Australia'.

    Intercensal difference

    Intercensal difference is the difference between two estimates at 30 June of a Census year population: the first based on the latest Census, and the second arrived at by updating the 30 June estimate of the previous Census year with intercensal components of population change. It is caused by differences in the start and/or finish population estimates and/or in estimates of births, deaths or migration in the intervening period which cannot be attributed to a particular source. For further information see Population Estimates: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 3228.0.55.001).

    Internal migration

    The movement of people across a specified boundary within Australia for the purpose of changing their place of usual residence.

    Interstate migration

    See net interstate migration.

    Local Government Area (LGA)

    An ABS approximation of an officially gazetted LGA as defined by each state and territory local government department. LGAs cover incorporated areas of Australia, which are legally designated areas for which incorporated local governing bodies have responsibility. The major areas of Australia not administered by incorporated bodies are the northern parts of South Australia and all of the Australian Capital Territory and the Other Territories. These regions are identified as 'Unincorporated' in the ABS LGA structure.

    Long-term arrivals

    Long-term arrivals comprise long-term visitor arrivals (LTVA) and long-term resident returns (LTRR).

    Long-term departures

    Long-term departures comprise long-term resident departures (LTRD) and long-term visitor departures (LTVD).

    Long-term resident departures (LTRD)

    Australian residents who stay abroad for 12 months or more.

    Long-term resident returns (LTRR)

    Australian residents returning after a recorded absence of 12 months or more overseas.

    Long-term visitor arrivals (LTVA)

    Overseas visitors who state that they intend to stay in Australia for 12 months or more (but not permanently).

    Long-term visitor departures (LTVD)

    Overseas visitors departing after a recorded stay of 12 months or more in Australia.

    Main reason for journey

    Overseas visitors/temporary entrants arriving in Australia and Australian residents returning to Australia are asked to state their main reason for journey using the following categories:

    • convention/conference;
    • business;
    • visiting friends/relatives;
    • holiday;
    • employment;
    • education; and
    • other.
       

    Median age

    For any distribution, the median value is that which divides the relevant population into two equal parts, half falling below the value, and half exceeding it. Thus, the median age is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger.

    Migrant arrivals

    Migrant arrivals (also referred to as NOM arrivals) are all overseas arrivals that contribute to net overseas migration (NOM). It is the number of incoming international travellers who stay in Australia for 12 months or more over a 16 month period, who are not currently counted within the population, and are then added to the population.

    Under the current method for estimating final net overseas migration this term is based on a traveller's actual duration of stay using the '12/16 month rule'.

    Migrant departures

    Migrant departures (also referred to as NOM departures) are all overseas departures that contribute to net overseas migration (NOM). It is the number of outgoing international travellers (Australian residents and long term visitors to Australia) who leave Australia for 12 months or more over a 16 month period, who are currently counted within the population, and are then subtracted from the population.

    Under the current method for estimating final net overseas migration this term is based on a traveller's actual duration of absence using the '12/16 month rule'.

    Migrant - international

    An international migrant is defined as "any person who changes his or her country of usual residence" (United Nations 1998). The country of usual residence is the country in which a person lives, that is to say, the country in which he or she has a place to live where he or she normally spends the daily period of rest. A long-term international migrant is a person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year (12 months), so that the country of destination effectively becomes his or her new country of usual residence.

    In Australia, for the purposes of estimating net overseas migration, and thereby the official population counts, a person is regarded as a usual resident if they have been (or expected to be) residing in Australia for a period of 12 months or more over a 16 month period.

    Migration

    The movement of people across a specified boundary for the purpose of establishing a new or semi-permanent residence. Migration can be international (migration between countries) and internal (migration within a country).

    Migration adjustment

    Prior to September quarter 2006, the ABS applied a number of adjustments to overseas arrivals and departures data in order to produce estimates of net overseas migration (NOM). These mainly comprised adjustments designed to reflect differences between stated travel intentions and actual travel behaviour. Until recently, adjustments used by ABS to produce NOM estimates were collectively referred to as 'category jumping adjustments'. They are now referred to more simply as 'migration adjustments'.

    Natural increase

    Excess of births over deaths.

    Net internal migration

    The difference between the number of people who changed their place of usual residence by moving into and out of a defined area within Australia (both interstate and intrastate). This difference may be positive or negative.

    Net interstate migration (NIM)

    The difference between the number of persons who have changed their place of usual residence by moving into a given state or territory and the number who have changed their place of usual residence by moving out of that state or territory during a specified time period. This difference can be either positive or negative.

    Net overseas migration (NOM)

    Net overseas migration is the net gain or loss of population through immigration to Australia and emigration from Australia. Under the current method for estimating final net overseas migration this term is based on a traveller's actual duration of stay or absence using the '12/16 month rule'. Preliminary NOM estimates are modelled on patterns of traveller behaviours observed in final NOM estimates for the same period one year earlier. NOM is:

    • based on an international traveller's duration of stay being in or out of Australia for 12 months or more over a 16 month period;
    • the difference between:
       
      • the number of incoming international travellers who stay in Australia for 12 months or more over a 16 month period, who are not currently counted within the population, and are then added to the population (NOM arrivals); and
      • the number of outgoing international travellers (Australian residents and long-term visitors to Australia) who leave Australia for 12 months or more over a 16 month period, who are currently counted within the population, and are then subtracted from the population (NOM departures).
         

    Net overseas migration rate

    The net overseas migration rate is the number of NOM travellers in a given period divided by the population sending or receiving the NOM travellers at a given period. It is calculated per 1,000 population.

    Net undercount

    The difference between the actual Census count (including imputations) and an estimate of the number of people who should have been counted in the Census. This estimate is based on the Post Enumeration Survey (PES) conducted after each Census. For a category of person (e.g. based on age, sex and state of usual residence), net undercount is the result of Census undercount, overcount, differences in classification between the PES and Census and imputation error.

    NOM arrivals

    NOM arrivals (also referred to as migrant arrivals) are all overseas arrivals that contribute to net overseas migration (NOM). It is the number of incoming international travellers who stay in Australia for 12 months or more over a 16 month period, who are not currently counted within the population, and are then added to the population.

    Under the current method for estimating final net overseas migration this term is based on a traveller's actual duration of stay using the '12/16 month rule'.

    NOM departures

    NOM departures (also referred to as migrant departures) are all overseas departures that contribute to net overseas migration (NOM). It is the number of outgoing international travellers (Australian residents and long term visitors to Australia) who leave Australia for 12 months or more over a 16 month period, who are currently counted within the population, and are then subtracted from the population.

    Under the current method for estimating final net overseas migration this term is based on a traveller's actual duration of absence using the '12/16 month rule'.

    Other territories

    Following amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 effective from July 1992, the two external territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands became part of geographical Australia. Since the 1996 Census, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Jervis Bay Territory (previously linked to the Australian Capital Territory for statistical purposes) comprise a pseudo 'ninth state/territory' of Australia, which from 1 July 2016 also includes Norfolk Island. They are included in state nine 'Other Territories'.

    Overseas arrivals and departures (OAD)

    Overseas arrivals and departures (OAD) refer to the recorded arrival or departure of persons through Australian air or sea ports (excluding operational air and ships' crew). Statistics on OAD relate to the number of movements of travellers rather than the number of travellers (i.e. the multiple movements of individual persons during a given reference period are all counted).

    Overseas migration

    See net overseas migration (NOM).

    Passenger card

    Passenger cards are completed by nearly all passengers arriving in Australia. Information including: country of previous residence, intended length of stay, main reason for journey, and state or territory of intended stay/residence is collected. An example of the current Australian passenger card is provided with the monthly Overseas Arrivals and Departures (cat. no. 3401.0) publication under the Explanatory Notes and then the Passenger Card (Appendix).

    Percentage points

    Units of difference between two percentages.

    Permanent arrivals (settlers)

    Permanent arrivals (settlers) comprise:

    • travellers who hold permanent migrant visas (regardless of stated intended period of stay);
    • New Zealand citizens who indicate an intention to migrate permanently; and
    • those who are otherwise eligible to settle (e.g. overseas born children of Australian citizens).


    This definition of settlers is used by the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs). Prior to 1985, the definition of settlers used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was the stated intention of the traveller only. Numerically, the effect of the change in definition is insignificant. The change was made to avoid the confusion caused by minor differences between data on settlers published separately by the ABS and Home Affairs.

    Permanent visa

    A visa allowing the holder to remain indefinitely in Australia's migration zone.

    Place of usual residence

    See usual residence.

    Population growth

    For Australia, population growth is the sum of natural increase and net overseas migration. For states and territories, population growth also includes net interstate migration. After the Census, intercensal population growth also includes an allowance for intercensal difference.

    Population growth rate

    Population change over a period as a proportion (percentage) of the population at the beginning of the period.

    Rebasing of population estimates

    After each Census, the ABS uses Census counts by place of usual residence which are adjusted for undercount to construct a new base population figure for 30 June of the Census year. Because this new population estimate uses the Census as its main data source, it is said to be 'based' on that Census and is referred to as a population base.

    Rebasing refers to the process by which the ABS uses this new base to update all previously published population estimates from the previous census to the most recent census (the intercensal period). For further information on rebasing to the 2016 Census see Australian Demographic Statistics, December quarter 2017 (cat. no. 3101.0) and Feature Article: Final Rebasing of Australia's Population Estimates using the 2016 Census.

    Residents temporarily overseas

    Residents temporarily overseas are outgoing international travellers (Australian residents and long term visitors to Australia) who are currently counted within the population and who leave Australia for less than 12 months over a 16 month period.

    Rest of state

    Within each state and territory, the area not defined as being part of the Greater Capital City Statistical Area is represented by a Rest of state region.

    Regional internal migration estimates (RIME)

    See internal migration.

    Regional overseas migration estimates (ROME)

    The movement of people to or from Australia's regions through immigration or emigration, where travellers satisfy the 12/16 month rule

    Sex ratio

    The sex ratio relates to the number of males per 100 females. The sex ratio is defined for the total population, at birth, at death and among age groups by appropriately selecting the numerator and the denominator of the ratio.

    Short-term arrivals

    Short-term arrivals comprise of short-term visitor arrivals (STVA) and short-term resident returns (STRR).

    Short-term departures

    Short-term departures comprise of short-term resident departures (STRD) and short-term visitor departures (STVD).

    Short-term resident departures (STRD)

    Australian residents who stay abroad for less than 12 months.

    Short-term resident returns (STRR)

    Australian residents returning after a recorded stay of less than 12 months overseas.

    Short-term visitor arrivals (STVA)

    Overseas visitors who intend to stay in Australia for less than 12 months.

    Short-term visitor departures (STVD)

    Overseas visitors departing after a recorded stay of less than 12 months in Australia.

    Skill stream

    Those categories of the Migration Program where the core eligibility criteria are based on the applicant's employability or capacity to invest and/or do business in Australia. The immediate accompanying families of principal applicants in the skill stream are also counted as part of the skill stream.

    This definition of skill stream is used by Home Affairs who administer the Migration Program.

    State or territory of residence/stay

    See state or territory of usual residence.

    State or territory of usual residence

    State or territory of usual residence refers to the state or territory of usual residence of:

    • the population (estimated resident population);
    • the mother (birth collection); and
    • the deceased (death collection).
       

    In the case of overseas movements, state or territory of usual residence refers to the state or territory regarded by the traveller as the one in which he/she lives or has lived. State or territory of intended residence is derived from the intended address given by settlers, and by Australian residents returning after a journey abroad. Particularly in the case of the former, this information does not necessarily relate to the state or territory in which the traveller will eventually establish a permanent residence.

    Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1)

    An area defined in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard designed as the smallest unit for the release of Census data. They generally have a population of 200 to 800 people, and an average population of about 400 people. SA1s in remote and regional areas generally have smaller populations than those in urban areas. SA1s are used as the building blocks for a number of ASGS defined regions including the Section of State and Urban Centre and Localities Structures, and the Remoteness Structure. Within the Non-ABS Structures, SA1s are used to approximate a number of administrative regions such as Commonwealth and State Electoral Divisions. There are approximately 57,500 SA1s and they cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. Population estimates are prepared for SA1s by breaking down estimates from the SA2 level.

    Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2)

    A medium-sized general purpose area defined in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard built from whole SA1s. Their purpose is to represent a community that interacts together socially and economically. SA2s are based on officially gazetted suburbs and localities. In urban areas, SA2s largely conform to one or more whole suburbs, while in rural areas they generally define the functional zone of a regional centre. SA2s generally have a population range of 3,000 to 25,000 people, and an average population of about 10,000 people. There are approximately 2,300 SA2s and they cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. SA2s are the base unit for preparing sub-state population estimates.

    Statistical Area Level 3 (SA3)

    An area defined in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard built up from SA2s to provide a regional breakdown of Australia. SA3s aim to create a standard framework for the analysis of ABS data at the regional level through clustering groups of whole SA2s that have similar regional characteristics. Their boundaries reflect a combination of widely recognised informal regions as well as existing administrative regions such as State Government Regions in rural areas and Local Government Areas in urban areas. SA3s generally range in population from 30,000 to 130,000 people. There are around 360 SA3s and they cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps.

    Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4)

    An area defined in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard designed for the output of labour force data and to reflect labour markets. In rural areas SA4s generally represent aggregations of multiple small labour markets with socioeconomic connections or similar industry characteristics. Large regional city labour markets are generally defined by a single SA4. Within major metropolitan labour markets SA4s represent sub-labour markets. SA4s are built from whole SA3s. They generally have a population of over 100,000 people to enable accurate labour force survey data to be generated. There are 107 SA4s and they cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps.

    Temporary entrants

    See temporary visas.

    Temporary visas

    Temporary entrant visas are visas permitting persons to come to Australia on a temporary basis for specific purposes. Main contributors are tourists, international students, those on temporary work visas, business visitors and working holiday makers.

    Usual residence

    Usual residence within Australia refers to that address at which the person has lived or intends to live for a total of six months or more in a given reference year.

    Visa

    Permission or authority granted by the Australian government to foreign nationals to travel to, enter and/or remain in Australia for a period of time or indefinitely.

    Bibliography

    Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, Acts Interpretation Act 1901, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/aia1901230/.

    Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, Census and Statistics Act 1905, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/casa1905241/.

    Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, Federal Financial Relations Act 2009, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ffra2009229/.

    Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, Migration Act 1958 , http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma1958118/.

    Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015, http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/num_act//nilaa2015350/sch2.html.

    Department of Home Affairs statistical publications are available from their website https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/.

    Home Affairs 2015, Net Overseas Migration statistics.

    Shyrock, HS, Siegel, JS & Assoc 1976, The Methods and Materials of Demography, condensed edn, Academic Press, New York.

    United Nations 1998, Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration, Statistical Papers Series M, no. 58, rev. 1, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division, New York.

    Quality declaration - summary

    Institutional environment

    Preparation of Australia's migration estimates uses data sourced from a number of other institutional environments.

    Administrative information on persons arriving in, or departing from, Australia is collected via various processing systems, passport documents, visa information, and incoming passenger cards. Aside from persons travelling as Australian or New Zealand citizens, persons travelling to Australia are required to provide information in visa applications. These administrative data are collected by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) under the authority of the Migration Regulations 1994 made under the Migration Act 1958.

    ABS statistics on net overseas migration (NOM) are mainly compiled using information from Home Affairs sources. All overseas movement records are stored on Home Affairs' Travel and Immigration Processing System (TRIPS). Each month all movement records, including those matched to an incoming passenger card, are supplied to the ABS and then processed. From July 2017, due to the removal of the outgoing passenger card, the ABS has also used Medicare enrolment data as a secondary source of State of residence information for Australian residents.

    Estimates of net interstate migration (NIM) are calculated using administrative data on interstate changes of address advised to Medicare Australia and to the Department of Defence in the case of the military. The Medicare-based model used for generating post-censal estimates of interstate migration is largely superseded when new Census information becomes available.

    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census of Population and Housing data are used to determine a base population and provide information on overseas-born residents. For information on the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

    Relevance

    Migration estimates referred to here are a component of population change and therefore a key determinant of the accuracy of the estimated resident population (ERP). The ERP is the official measure of the population of Australia according to a usual residence population concept. It refers to all people, regardless of nationality or citizenship who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families. For the purposes of NOM a person is regarded as a usual resident if they have been (or are expected to be) residing in Australia for a period of 12 months or more. As from 1 July 2006 this 12 months does not have to be continuous and is measured over a 16 month reference period. Estimates for NOM exclude the movement of operational aircraft and ship's crew.

    The data provides information on the flows of migrants into and out of Australia and between the states and territories. It also provides an annual stock take of the number of overseas-born residents. The main demographic variables available for each are:

    • Overseas migration - includes age, sex, country of birth and state and territory;
    • Interstate migration - includes age, sex, and state and territory; and
    • Overseas-born residents - includes age, sex and country of birth (state and territory is only available for Census years).

    Timeliness

    Prior to the annual release of Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0) preliminary NOM and NIM data are published quarterly in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0). NIM and NOM are made available within six months after the end of each reference quarter

    Final estimates for NOM are released quarterly and made available 18 months after the end of the reference period. In the case of NOM, final data are based on actual traveller behaviour

    Estimates of overseas-born residents at the Australia level are made available annually with the release of Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0). At the state and territory level the estimates are made only once every 5 years after a Census when the country of birth can be obtained at the state level.

    Final estimates for NIM are made available every 5 years after a Census and revisions are made to the previous intercensal period.

    Accuracy

    All migration data sources are subject to non-sampling error which can arise from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. The ABS does not have control over any non-sampling error associated with data from Home Affairs, Medicare Australia and the Department of Defence.

    Another dimension of non-sampling error is the fact that the measures of migration estimates become more accurate as more time elapses after the reference period. The trade-off between timeliness and accuracy means that a user can access more accurate data by using the revised or final data.

    In recognition of the inherent inaccuracy involved in estimating migration, figures in text released by the ABS are rounded. While un-rounded figures are provided in the detailed spreadsheets, accuracy to the last digit is not claimed and should not be assumed. All calculations are based on un-rounded numbers.

    Coherence

    Annual migration estimates for Australia are available from 1860 onwards. Australia's population by country of birth is available for various states for Census years since 1846 (eg: New South Wales) refer to Australian Historical Population Statistics (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001).

    Migration estimates are used in calculating official population estimates. The concept of estimated resident population was introduced in 1981 and backdated to 1971 as Australia's official measure of population based on place of usual residence. Before the introduction of ERP, the Australian population was based on unadjusted Census counts on actual location basis. It is important to note this break in time series when comparing historical migration estimates.

    Population estimates are referred to as either preliminary, revised or final. Preliminary estimates are made available within six months after the reference quarter. Revised estimates are published each quarter when each of the different components of population change (birth, deaths and migration) are revised. Final estimates are published for the previous five-yearly intercensal period after each Census. See paragraph 9 of the Explanatory Notes of Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0) for further information on the current status of ERP and its components.

    An improved method for calculating net overseas migration (NOM) was applied and has been used in compiling Australia's official population estimates from September quarter 2006 onwards. The key change is the introduction of a '12/16 month rule' for measuring a person's residency in Australia replacing the '12/12 month rule'. This change results in a break in time series therefore it is not advised that NOM data calculated using the new method is compared to data previous to this.

    Interpretability

    The Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0) publication contains detailed Explanatory Notes, Technical Notes and Glossary that provide information on the data. More in depth information is available from a number of sources, they include:

    Accessibility

    Migration data is available free of charge in a variety of formats on the ABS website.

    The most timely data for both NOM data and NIM data are available quarterly in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0). It is made available within six months after the end of each reference quarter. This includes the release of a PDF version of the publication; time series spreadsheets (Excel format) including NIM data; and data cubes (Excel and ABS.Stat formats) with demographic statistics including NOM data, quarterly estimated resident population and interstate arrivals and departures data.

    The Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0) publication provides annual data and analysis and includes information on overseas-born residents at 30 June each year. This includes the release of an HTML version of the publication and a number of time series spreadsheets (Excel and ABS.Stat format). Additionally, the NOM and NIM data sets are also released every six months to update calendar and financial year data.

    Abbreviations

    Show all

    ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
    ACTAustralian Capital Territory
    AfrAfrica
    A TAntarctic Territory
    Aust.Australia
    ASGCAustralian Standard Geographical Classification
    ASGSAustralian Statistical Geography Standard
    BritBritish
    cat. no.catalogue number
    Dem RepDemocratic Republic
    DIACAustralian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship
    DIBPAustralian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection
    DIMAAustralian Government Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
    DpDutch part
    EEast or Eastern
    EmirEmirates
    ERPestimated resident population
    E TExternal Territories
    FrFrance or French part
    F SFederated States of
    FYROMFormer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
    Gaza Str/W BankGaza Strip and West Bank
    GCCSAGreater Capital City Statistical Area
    Home AffairsAustralian Government Department of Home Affairs
    incl.included
    IsIsland(s)
    LGALocal Government Area
    LTRDlong-term resident departure
    LTRRlong-term resident return
    LTVAlong-term visitor arrival
    LTVDlong-term visitor departure
    MAmigration adjustment
    NNorth or northern
    necnot elsewhere classified
    nfdnot further defined
    NIMnet interstate migration
    no.number
    NOMnet overseas migration
    NSWNew South Wales
    NTNorthern Territory
    OADoverseas arrivals and departures
    PApermanent arrival
    PDpermanent departure
    PNGPapua New Guinea
    PolyPolynesia
    PrincPrincipe
    QldQueensland
    RepRepublic
    RIMEregional internal migration estimates
    ROMEregional overseas migration estimates
    ROADSrebuild of the OAD system
    SSouth or Southern
    SASouth Australia
    SA2Statistical Area Level 2
    SA3Statistical Area Level 3
    SA4Statistical Area Level 4
    SACCStandard Australian Classification of Countries
    SARSpecial Administrative Region
    SESint Eustatius
    SpSpanish
    StSaint
    STRDshort-term resident departure
    STRRshort-term resident return
    STVAshort-term visitor arrival
    STVDshort-term visitor departure
    Tas.Tasmania
    TRIPSTravel and Immigration Processing System
    UKUnited Kingdom
    UK, CIs & IOMUnited Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man
    USUnited States
    USAUnited States of America
    Vic.Victoria
    WWest or western
    WAWestern Australia