Looking forward: trends in South Australia’s Indigenous population to 2026
Earlier this year, the office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People (CCYP) in South Australia reached out to us, saying they would like to learn more about the age break down for indigenous children and young people. In this blog, Mark follows up his initial response to that enquiry, which looked at current trends, with this post, looking to the future of the indigenous population of South Australia, using data from the ABS’ population projections.
Sticking with a South Australian theme for my second blog, this post will examine “future trends” in the State’s Indigenous population over the next 10 years, using Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) projections.
In my first blog, Taking a closer look at South Australia’s Indigenous age profile, using 2016 Census data, the younger age structure of Indigenous persons relative to Non-Indigenous was highlighted.
Given the current disparities between Indigenous/Non-indigenous persons, it would be interesting to see how these differences could evolve over time. To do this I’m going to use ABS Indigenous population projections focusing on the period 2016-2026 to highlight changes in trends/growth rates.
Choosing a projection scenario
The ABS produces three series of population projections based on 2011 Census data; Series A (high growth), Series B (medium growth) and Series C (low growth) providing a range of possible growth rates. These are not forecasts but possible future growth scenarios based on assumptions using past trends and consultations with various stakeholders.
Given the high margin of error in projected numbers of Indigenous persons (due to the unreliability of births/deaths/migration data), analysis focuses on trends and growth rates across time. In particular, analysis focuses on changes in structure (e.g. ageing/shares, etc), as opposed to changes in aggregate population numbers. We do not know the most likely future growth outcome (i.e. high/medium/low), so Series B – medium growth scenario has been chosen to illustrate growth rates.
Strong growth, but below the national average
Looking first at Indigenous population projections by state/territory for the ten-year period to 2026 shows projected annual growth of 2.1% in South Australia (see Table 1) or 9,718 persons. A slightly lower growth rate compared with the national average of 2.2% over the same period.
South Australia’s share of the national Indigenous population would decline slightly from 5.6% to 5.5%. Victoria and Queensland – which have the highest projected annual growth rates – would see their shares of the national Indigenous population increase the most.
Table 1: Projected Indigenous population by State/Territory, number and share, ABS projections Series B, 2016-2026
|State/Territory||Number of Indigenous persons||Share of Australia’s Indigenous persons||Change 2016-2026|
|2016||2026||2016||2026||Increase (no.)||Annual growth (%)|
|New South Wales||229,951||282,962||30.9||30.6||53,011||2.1|
|Australian Capital Territory||7,103||9,463||1.0||1.0||2,360||2.9|
Source: ABS Cat no. 3238.0, Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026.
Older cohort growing, but still a youthful population
A more detailed look at projected South Australian population characteristics shows annual growth in the Indigenous community is projected to be double the rate of the rest of the state. Annual growth in the Indigenous population would be 2.1% compared with 0.9% for South Australia over the ten years to 2026 (see Table 2).
Relative to the rest of the State the younger Indigenous age structure will persist; by 2026 projected median age will be 25.3 years – more than 16 years younger than the SA average. At the same time, shares of older persons (aged over 65 years) are projected to reach 6.2% compared with 20.9% for all of South Australia.
What’s interesting to note from the table is the Indigenous community is projected to age faster relative to the rest of South Australia. Over the 10-year period 2016-2026, the projected median age of Indigenous persons will increase by 2 years compared with an increase of 1.2 years for all other persons. While projected annual growth rates for Indigenous persons aged over 65 years will be 5.9% – more than double the annual 2.7% projected growth for South Australia
Table 2: Demographic projections for South Australia, Indigenous persons and total population, number and percent, Series B, 2016 and 2026
|Key statistics||Indigenous||South Australia|
|2016||2026||Change 2016-2026 (no.)||Annual growth 2016-2026 (%)||2016||2026||Change 2016-2026 (no.)||Annual growth 2016-2026 (%)|
|Under 15 years||13,617||16,241||2,624||1.8||307,211||335,017||27,806||0.9|
|65 and over||1,785||3,176||1,391||5.9||304,697||396,493||91,796||2.7|
|Under 15 years||32.8||31.7||-1.1||–||17.8||17.7||-0.1||–|
|65 and over||4.3||6.2||1.9||–||17.6||20.9||3.3||–|
Source: ABS Cat no. 3238.0, Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 and ABS Cat no. 3222.0 Population Projections, Australia, 2012 (base) to 2101.
The ABS growth scenario would see South Australia’s Indigenous population growing and ageing faster than the rest of the state.
Trends to 2026 show the Indigenous population structure will maintain a much younger age-profile relative to the Non-Indigenous (relatively larger shares of “under 15 years” and smaller shares “over 65 years” compared with the rest of the state). While population ageing will be a characteristic of both the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities.
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