4738.0 - Changing characteristics of the Torres Strait region and its people, 2011 to 2016 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/09/2018  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product


TORRES STRAIT POPULATION DISTRIBUTION AND CHANGE OVER TIME


KEY HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE REGION

  • Of all people living on the Islands in 2011, around 1 in 5 had left for mainland Australia by 2016. Those Torres Strait Islander people who left were most likely to be aged 15-24.
  • Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-34 living on the Islands in 2016 were in the age group most likely to have moved to the Islands between 2011 and 2016.
  • The Torres Strait Islander population increased across every island group between 2011 and 2016, except for the Western Islands.
.


The Torres Strait Region includes 20 communities divided into five traditional island groups and two Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) communities (footnote 3) – see map below. The Torres Strait Region was home to 9,555 people in 2016, the majority (7,615 people, or 80%) of whom identified as Torres Strait Islander. In comparison, Torres Strait Islander people accounted for only 0.3% of Australia’s total population. Most of this article covers the 20 communities as a group and is referred to as the Torres Strait Region. Where the article refers to only the 18 islands, that area is referred to as the Torres Strait Islands.


MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE TO AND FROM THE REGION

Where people moved between 2011-2016

Where people were on Census night, 2016 (footnote 4)
Almost all Torres Strait Islander people (95%) living in the Region were counted in the Region in the Census.

Badu, Kubin, Iama, Muralag, and Horn Island had the greatest percentage of people away from home on Census night. These people were most likely to be in the rest of Australia or other islands in the Torres Strait – possibly in areas with access to a greater number of services and facilities such as health care, education and training.

Movement of people to and from the Islands (footnote 5)
Note - data in the following section is only available for the Torres Strait Islands which excludes the NPA Torres Strait communities of Seisia and Bamaga. Data for Seisia and Bamaga as separate from the NPA is not available (footnote 6).

Those that stayed
Most people (79%) living on the Islands in 2011 were there in 2016. More Torres Strait Islander people (6 in 7 people) than non-Indigenous people (2 in 5 people) stayed on the Islands between 2011 and 2016. In terms of location of work, the majority of Torres Strait Islander people living on the Islands also worked on the Islands.

Those that moved to the Islands
Around one in seven (14%) of everyone living on the Islands in 2016 had migrated from mainland Australia since 2011. Of these, most were likely to have come from mainland Queensland (83%) with the remainder from other parts of Australia, outside of Queensland. About half of the people who had moved to the islands from Queensland had come from Cairns.

Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-34 living on the Islands in 2016 were the most likely age group to have been living on mainland Australia in 2011 (11%), 62% of whom had been living in Cairns. While there may be many factors driving these movements, a potential explanation for this pattern is that young people are moving to the mainland for education and training and returning later for family/cultural obligations and commitments.

Those who left the Islands
Around one fifth (21%) of everyone living on the Islands in 2011 had moved to mainland Australia by 2016. Of these, approximately 4 in 5 (83%) moved to Queensland, around half (49%) of whom moved to Cairns. A possible reason for this movement is public servants leaving for the mainland after working on the Islands.

Young people were more likely than older people to have moved to the mainland between 2011 and 2016, with more than one-fifth (22%) of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-24 having moved there, most likely for education and training. In contrast, Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 years and over were the least likely, with just 6% having moved to the mainland since 2011.


WHERE TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE LIVE

TORRES STRAIT REGION
Image: Map showing the location of the 20 Torres Strait communities with Papua New Guinea to the north and Cape York Peninsula to the south


The population of Torres Strait Islander people in the Torres Strait Region was distributed as shown in Table 1:

TABLE 1: DISTRIBUTION OF TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER POPULATION(a) LIVING IN THE REGION, 2011-2016

Island Group/ Mainland Community
2011
2016
Change 2011 to 2016 (%)

Top Western Islands
668
790
+18.3
Boigu Island
185
229
+23.8
Dauan Island
129
168
+30.2
Saibai Island
351
389
+10.8

Western Islands
1,332
1,310
-1.7
Badu Island
696
697
+0.1
Kubin (Moa Island)
159
182
+14.5
Mabuiag Island
246
206
-16.3
St Pauls (Moa Island)
233
232
-0.4

Central Islands
873
941
+7.8
Iama (Yam Island)
281
293
+4.3
Poruma (Coconut Island)
142
156
+9.9
Warraber (Sue Island)
219
231
+5.5
Masig (Yorke Island)
236
255
+8.1

Eastern Islands
732
808
+10.4
Erub (Darnley Island)
342
304
-11.1
Mer (Murray Island)
341
429
+25.8
Ugar (Stephen Island)
48
69
+43.8

Inner Islands
2,175
2,638
+21.3
Hammond Island
206
245
+18.9
Ngurupai (Horn Island)
310
368
+18.7
Muralag (Prince of Wales) Island
41
80
+95.1
Port Kennedy (Thursday Island)
839
1,123
+33.8
TRAWQ (Thursday Island)
784
826
+5.4

Northern Peninsula Area Communities
959
1,128
+17.6
Seisia
138
195
+41.3
Bamaga and Surrounds
826
933
+13.0

Total Torres Strait Region(b)
6,744
7,615
+12.9

      (a) Based on usual residence Census counts
      Note: there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals.

POPULATION BY LOCATION

In 2016 the Inner Islands had the highest number of Torres Strait Islander people (2,638), but they were the lowest proportion (69%) of the group's population compared to the other island groups. This is due to the large number of non-Indigenous people living on Thursday Island (688 people) – the administrative centre of the Region.

Graph Image for Proportion of Torres Strait Islander people(a) by location, 2011-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Based on usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Source(s): 2011 Census of Population and Housing, 2016 Census of Population and Housing


Population growth and decline
Between 2011 and 2016, the number of Torres Strait Islanders increased in every island group, except for the Western Islands, with the Inner Islands having the greatest increase.

The Islands
Over this period, Muralag (Prince of Wales) Island experienced the greatest growth of Torres Strait Islander people in the Region, almost doubling from 41 to 80 people. Mabuiag Island had the greatest decrease, dropping from 246 to 206 people (16% decline), followed by Erub (Darnley) Island, 342 to 304 people (11% decline).

Other Population Groups
  • Aboriginal people - while making up only 2% of the population in the Region, increased in all island groups except for the Central Islands (26 down to 10 people) and the Inner Islands (96 down to 93 people).
  • Non-Indigenous people - decreased in every island group except the Western Islands, where it rose by around 10%, from 110 to 121 people.


Footnotes:

3. See TSRA website - http://www.tsra.gov.au/the-torres-strait/community-profiles.

4. See Glossary for more information about Mobility

5. See Glossary for more information about Migration

6. See Appendix for more information about the ABS geography used in this publication.