2021 Census snapshot: Australia has doubled in size over last 50 years

The results of the latest national Census today reveal we are a fast changing, growing and culturally diverse nation.

The 2021 Census counted nearly 25.5 million people (25,422,788) in Australia, excluding overseas visitors, on Census night. This is an increase of over two million people (2,020,896), or 8.6 per cent, since the 2016 Census.

Australia’s Census count has more than doubled in the last 50 years, with the 1971 Census counting over 12 million people (12,493,001).

The Census counted more than 800,000 (812,728) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on Census night, 3.2 per cent of the total people counted. This is an increase of over 25 per cent (25.2 per cent) since 2016.

Australia continues to become more diverse, with over 1 million (1,020,007) residents arriving in Australia from 2017 to 2021. Over four out of every five (83.7 per cent) of these arrivals were in 2017 to 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

With these new arrivals, we have seen the proportion of Australian residents that are born overseas (first generation) or have a parent born overseas (second generation) move above 50 per cent (51.5 per cent).

Beyond these headline numbers the Census provides rich information about the nation, giving insight on cultural diversity, families and homes, to how we changed during the pandemic.

Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “Every stat tells a story and today we are sharing a glimpse into the stories of almost 25.5 million Australians. This accurate and valuable data reveals who we are as a nation and how we have changed.

Thank you to the millions of people across Australia who completed the 2021 Census. It was important that everyone participated to ensure that every community is represented in the Census data.

Census data is used to inform important decisions about transport, schools, health care, infrastructure and business at the community and national level. The high response rate means that Census data provides accurate insights to tell your community’s story.”

The 2021 Census achieved a response rate above the Australian Bureau of Statistics target obtaining data from 10 million (10,852,208) dwellings during the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The dwelling response rate was 96.1 per cent, up from 95.1 per cent in 2016.

The Statistical Independent Assurance Panel, established by the Australian Statistician to provide assurance of Census data quality, concluded that the 2021 Census data is fit-for-purpose, is of comparable quality to the 2011 and 2016 Censuses and can be used with confidence.

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