Australia's fourteenth national Census of Population and Housing was held on 7 August 2001. Census counts provide a population base from which subsequent estimated resident populations (ERPs) are derived, using the cohort component method, which brings forward the population by ageing the base, then adjusting for subsequent births, deaths and overseas and interstate migration.
Between 1996 and 2001, Australia's resident population increased by nearly 1.1 million people, from 18.3 million to 19.4 million, surpassing 19 million in 2000. The majority (57%) of this growth was from natural increase (the difference between births and deaths), the remaining was due to net overseas migration (43%).
Over the period 1996 to 2001, the growth rate experienced by the states and territories varied substantially, ranging from an average annual decline in Tasmania's population (-0.1%) to an average annual increase in the Northern Territory's population (1.9%).
As at 30 June 2001, 84.7% of Australia's population lived within 50 kilometres of the coastline. Tasmania, being an island state, had the highest proportion of its population (99.5%) living within 50 kilometres of the coast.
In Australia an urban area is defined as a population cluster of 1,000 or more people. In the 2001 Census, 16.5 million people, or 87.2% of those counted were living in 713 urban areas.
At 30 June 2001, 20.5% of the ERP was aged 0-14 years, 66.9% was aged 15-64 years and the remaining 12.6% was aged 65 years and over.
During 1996-2001, 6.8 million people, or 42% of the population, changed their place of residence in Australia. Queensland (92,200), Victoria (6,400) and Western Australia (2,900) were the only states or territories to experience a net gain through interstate migration in this period. New South Wales recorded the largest net interstate migration loss (-66,500 people) in 1996-2001.
During 1996-2001, people aged 25-29 years were the most mobile age group, with little difference recorded between the mobility rates of males and females.
The mobility rates of immigrants is very high on arrival and for the first decade of their residence in Australia, a reflection that immigrants tend to move until they find a suitable place to work and settle into their new environment. In the long term, the mobility rates of immigrants are lower than the Australian-born population.
50.8% of Australia's Indigenous population changed their usual place of residence during 1996-2001 compared to 42.3% for non-Indigenous persons. Indigenous persons have a much higher propensity to move within the state, particularly within the same SLA and to other SDs in the same state, than non-Indigenous people.