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Fact sheet 2 – Key facts about immigration

This is a summary of key immigration and migrant settlement statistics.

Commonly used terms in this document include:

Migration Programme refers to the number of visas for permanent residence in the skill, family and special eligibility streams (this does not include New Zealand citizens and visas issued under the Humanitarian Programme).

Settler arrival refers to people entitled to permanent residence who are living in Australia (this includes New Zealanders intending to stay permanently and Humanitarian Programme entrants).

Net overseas migration is the number of people arriving in Australia minus those departing from Australia for 12 months or more (within a 16 month period).

Planning levels refers to the number of visas that may be granted in the categories of each visa programme in a financial year.

Post-war migration

Since October 1945, more than 7.5 million people have migrated to Australia—over 800 000 of these people arrived under the Humanitarian Programme.

Australia's population has increased from about seven million in October 1945 to 23.03 million as at March 2013.

The Migration Programme began at the end of World War II. Australia reached agreements with Britain, some European countries and with the International Refugee Organization to encourage migration—including displaced people from war-torn Europe.
See: Fact Sheet 4 – More than 60 years of post-war migration

About one million migrants arrived in each of the six decades following 1950:

  • 1.6 million between October 1945 and June 1960
  • about 1.3 million in the 1960s
  • about 960 000 in the 1970s
  • about 1.1 million in the 1980s
  • over 900 000 in the 1990s
  • over 1.2 million between 2000 and 2010.

The highest number of settlers to arrive in any one year since World War II was 185 099 in 1969–70. The lowest number in any one year was 52 752 in 1975–76.

Today, one in four of Australia's 23 million people were born outside Australia. Since July 2009, New Zealand has been the major source country for settlers.

The number of settlers arriving in Australia between July 2012 and June 2013 totalled 152 414. They came from more than 200 countries. Most were born in one of the following four countries:

  • New Zealand (17.7 percent)
  • India (12.1 per cent)  
  • China (11.8 per cent)
  • United Kingdom (7.7 per cent).

Globalisation has resulted in a major flow of people who often do not intend to stay in Australia permanently, therefore, migration has become increasingly circular and temporary in nature.

Settler arrival figures

Settler arrival figures
Year Settler arrival numbers Net permanent migration
1998–1999 84 100 49 000
1999–2000 92 300 51 200
2000–2001 107 400 60 800
2001–2002 88 900 40 700
2002–2003 93 900 43 500
2003–2004 111 600 52 500
2004–2005 123 400 60 800
2005–2006 131 600 63 700
2006–2007 140 100 68 000
2007–2008 149 400 72 400
2008–2009 158 021 77 000
2009–2010 140 610 54 300
2010–2011 127 460 39 000
2011-2012 158 943 71 500
2012–2013 152 414 60 653

Source: overseas arrivals and departures

Settler arrivals by region of birth between July 2012 and June 2013

Settler arrivals by region of birth between July 2012 and June 2013
Region of birth Arrivals % Variation from last financial year
Oceania and Antarctica 32 691 -7.4
Europe 19 440 -22.8
North Africa and the Middle East 10 997 11.7
South East Asia 22 254 -1.2
North East Asia 23 390 3.3
Southern Asia  27 964 12.4
Central Asia 1911 20.4
Northern America 2440 -0.1
South and Central America and the Caribbean 1878 -9.9
Sub-Saharan Africa 8474 -26.6
Supplementary country codes 969 9.6
Not stated/not elsewhere included 6 -68.4
Grand total 152 414 -4.1

Major source countries

July 2012 to June 2013 settler arrivals, by country of birth

July 2012 to June 2013 settler arrivals, by country of birth
Country of birth Arrivals % Variation
New Zealand 27 015 -10.3
India 18 395 27.8
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) 18 041 3.3
United Kingdom 11 720 -29.8
Philippines 6704 -3.6
South Africa 4585 -27.3
Malaysia 3762 -3.2
Vietnam 3709 -4.8
Sri Lanka 3670 -15.6

By way of comparison: settler arrivals by region of birth for 2000–01

Settler arrivals by region of birth for 2000–01
Region of birth Arrivals % of total
Oceania and Antarctica 30 134 28.1
Europe 18 338 17.1
North Africa and the Middle East 6 942 6.5
South East Asia 13 798 12.9
North East Asia 14 881 13.9
Southern Asia 10 816 10.1
Central Asia 533 0.5
Northern America 1949 1.8
South and Central America and the Caribbean 833 0.8
Sub-Saharan Africa 8316 7.7
Supplementary – country codes 788 0.7
Grand total 107 366

Population

At 30 March 2013, the estimated population for Australia was 23.032 million. This is an annual increase of 397 400 people and a population growth rate of 1.8 per cent. There has been a sudden decline from the peak growth rate of 2.2 per cent for the year ending 31 December 2008, followed by a steady decline reaching to 1.4 per cent for the year ending March 2011. Since that time Australia's population growth started to increase and reached 1.8 per cent during the year ending March 2013.

Population growth has two components:

  • Natural increase (the excess of births over deaths)
  • Net migration to Australia (net permanent and long-term migration to Australia plus adjustments for changes in traveller duration intention).

The graph below shows the contributions of natural growth and net migration to Australia's population growth between 2008 and 2012.

graph of annual population growth quarterly from 2009-2013

graph of annual population growth from 2008-2012

Source: Australian Demographic Statistics, March 2013 (ABS Cat 3101.0)

Migration Programme 2013–14

The number of places available in the Migration Programme for 2013–14 is 190 000, which remains unchanged from the 2012-13 Migration Programme.

The composition of the 2013–14 Migration Programme has been slightly rebalanced by shifting 700 places from the skill stream to the family stream. The family stream places have increased to 60 885 and the skill stream to 128 550 places. Special eligibility places remain at 565.

Specifically within the family stream the partner and contributory parent category places have increased while within the skill stream, the skilled independent category and the Business Innovation, Investment Programme places have decreased in the 2013-14 programme.

The minor rebalance of the Migration Programme composition responds to continuing high levels of demand for family stream places, particularly in the partner category, and a slightly softening labour market.
See: Fact Sheet 20 – Migration Programme planning levels

Previous Migration Programme planning levels


Previous Migration Programme planning levels
Migration program Places available
2002–03 108 070
2003–04 114 360
2004–05 120 060
2005–06 142 933
2006–07 148 200
2007–08 158 630
2008–09 171 318
2009–10 168 623
2010–11 168 685
2011–12 185 000
2012–13 190 000

Migration Programme as a percentage of Australia's population

While the levels of the 2012–13 and 2013–14 Migration Programme were the largest programme delivered, these levels remain consistent with the longer-term average.

The graph below shows the Migration Programme intakes since the 1950s in proportion to the population of Australia.

Migration Program size as a percentage of Australia's population

Continued

Last reviewed Wednesday 27 August 2014