Fact Sheet 2 – Key Facts about Immigration
On this page
This is a summary of key immigration and migrant settlement statistics.
Commonly used terms in this document include:
Migration Program 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 Program).
Settler arrival refers to people entitled to permanent residence who are living in Australia (this includes New Zealanders intending to stay permanently and Humanitarian Program 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 program in a financial year.
Since October 1945, more than 7.2 million people have migrated to Australia—750 000 of these people arrived under the Humanitarian Program.
Australia’s population has increased from about seven million in October 1945 to 22.69 million as at September 2011.
The Migration Program 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
The trigger for a large-scale migration program was the end of World War II. Agreements were reached with Britain, some European countries and with the International Refugee Organization to encourage migration, including displaced people from war-torn Europe.
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 22 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 2010 and June 2011 totalled 127 460. They came from more than 200 countries. Most were born in one of the following four countries:
- New Zealand (20.2 percent)
- China (11.5 percent)
- United Kingdom (8.6 percent)
- India (8.3 percent).
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.
|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|
Source: overseas arrivals and departures
Settler arrivals by region of birth between July 2010 and June 2011
|Region of birth||Arrivals||% Variation|
|Oceania and Antarctica||29 614||37.0|
|North Africa and the Middle East||9 508||-8.0|
|South East Asia||17 938||-12.8|
|North East Asia||18 813||-11.5|
|Southern Asia||18 348||-26.3|
|Central Asia||1 909||19.0|
|Northern America||2 245||-3.8|
|South and Central America and the Caribbean||1 754||-27.3|
|Sub-Saharan Africa||9 471||-30.2|
|Supplementary country codes||904||11.5|
|Not stated/not elsewhere included||18||-33.3|
|Grand total||127 458||-9.4|
July 2010 to June 2011 settler arrivals, by country of birth
|Country of birth||Arrivals||% Variation|
|New Zealand||25 772||42.2|
|China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)||14 611||-12.2|
|United Kingdom||10 944||-29.6|
|South Africa||4 752||-33.6|
|Sri Lanka||3 225||-27.4|
By way of comparison: settler arrivals by region of birth for 2000–01
|Region of birth||Arrivals||% of total|
|Oceania and Antarctica||30 134||28.1|
|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|
|Northern America||1 949||1.8|
|South and Central America and the Caribbean||833||0.8|
|Sub-Saharan Africa||8 316||7.7|
|Supplementary – country codes||788||0.7|
At 30 September 2011, the estimated population for Australia was 22.69 million. This is an annual increase of 319 600 people and a population growth rate of 1.4 percent. There has been a sudden decline from the peak growth rate of 2.2 percent for the year ending 31 December 2008, followed by a steady decline until 31 December 2010 after which it has remained steady at 1.4 percent.
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 2007 and 2011.
Source: Australian Demographic Statistics, September 2011 (ABS Cat 3101.0)
The number of places available in the Migration Program for 2012–13 is 190 000, which is 5000 more than the 2011–12 planning level. Of the 5000 places, 3400 are allocated to the Skilled stream. This is to help meet the demand for skilled migrants.
The Family stream has increased to 60 185 places. This is an increase of 1585 places from the 2011–12 program year. Most of this increase will be in the uncapped Child and Partner visa categories to help keep families together.
See: Fact Sheet 20 – Migration Program Planning Levels
Previous Migration Program planning levels:
|Migration program||Places available|
Migration Program as a percentage of Australia’s population
While the size of the 2012–13 Migration Program is the largest program delivered, it remains consistent with the longer-term average.
The graph below shows the Migration Program intakes since the 1950s in proportion to the population of Australia.