Not the average Aussie

By AG STAFF 2 July 2014
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
We’ve looked into the 2011 Census to get a snapshot of who Australians are today and we want to know your story

IN THE July-August 2014 issue of Australian Geographic, writer Ken Eastwood asked the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS): Who is the average Australian?

The straight answer – based in the 2011 census – is a 37-year-old female sales assistant of UK ancestry, born here and with both parents born here, living with a husband and two children.

But the ABS searched for her and discovered ‘she’ didn’t exist. There is no one person who fits all the criteria.

That it’s not so easy is no surprise. In 28 years of writing about Australians, Australian Geographic writers have never found the 23.5 million people who live in Australia today, or their predecessors, a straight forward bunch.

Although we share an interesting history, and through our indigenous Australians an ancient one, since 1976 our population has mainly increased through immigration rather than the birthrate.

One-quarter of us were born in another country, and half of us have at least one parent born elsewhere. Each new arrival adding to an already rich tapestry of views, traditions and histories.

Australian population: who are we?

The 2011 statistics also explode some of the myths about the bush and battling. Only less than 10.9 per cent of us live in what could be called the outback. Everyone else lives in urban areas, and 69.5 per cent of us in major cities. Over three quarters of us do this in the secondary service sector – probably in an office.

But, none of these facts really give us the whole picture of who we are – many office workers spend their weekends in the shed. The legends of the outback are told to us as children, and colour who we grow up to be.

Everyone’s story is different.

Some Australian population stats

  • Total Australian poulation: 23.5 million
  • The second fastest-growing group of immigrants are those born in China, increasing by 175,000 since 2001 (a 3x rise).
  • Indigenous population counted at the 2011 census: 548,368
  • Average number of children per family: 1.9
  • Median income per week: $577
  • Female life expectancy at birth: 84.2
  • Male life expectancy at birth: 79.7
  • Most spoken languages other than English: Mandarin (336,000), Italian (300,000), Arabic (287,000), Canotnese (264,000), Greek (252,000), Vietnamese (233,000), Spanish (117,000), Hindi (111,000)
  • Average number of people per dwelling: 2.6
  • Perth is home to the largest number of people born in the UK and Ireland (210,000) and Sub-Saharan Africa (57,000)
  • Hobart has the least number of foreign-born people of all the state capitals

  • Sydney has the largest number of people born in Asia (641,000), the Middle East (153,000), the Americas (74,000) and Oceania (50,000)
  • Regional Queensland has the highest number of foreign-born residents compared with regional areas in other states

  • People born in the European region (including the UK and Ireland) form the largest immigrant group in Australia

  • The top five countries for people born in Asia are China (319,000), India (295,000), Vietnam (185,000), Philippines (171,000) and Malaysia (116,00)


You can also send us email or snail mail to include in the next issue: [email protected] / AG, GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001.