Report on the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia

2.5.2 Trends in population ageing

Page last updated: April 2008

Declining birth rates and increased life expectancy have resulted in a significant increase in the number and proportion of older people in Australia. Between 2000 and 2030, the ABS projected that Australia's population will increase by approximately one-third6. In the same period, the number of people aged 65 years and over is projected to increase by 139% and will comprise more than one in five of the total population or 5.7 million people.

As Australia's population ages, regional populations will also age, some more than others. The proportion of the population aged 65 years and over ('seniors') has increased substantially in all regions over the last 20 years. Ageing was much more pronounced in regional areas. This was especially the case in Western Australia, where the older age group is expected to more than triple by 2026. In 2001, the highest concentrations of seniors were in non-urban regions (15.4%). Population projections show that older people will continue to be concentrated in areas along the Australian coastline. Coastal regions are estimated to experience growth of 210% in the number of seniors between now and 2045. Australia's inland regions are also expected to experience significant growth (estimated at 179.7%) in the number of seniors.

Trends in recent years have shown that the populations of South Australia and Tasmania have aged more than other states. For instance, for many years Tasmania experienced large net migration of young adults to other states and territories. However, in recent years, this trend appears to be reversing.

6 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004. Population Projections Australia 2004 - 2101.