Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Happy holidays from Demography North

Demography North researchers would like to thank all you readers for taking an interest in the work that we do. What started as a small side-project to help distribute the presentations from our Northern Population Matters symposium #northpopmatters in August 2016 has turned out to be a great way to make our research more accessible.

 We hope that everyone has an enjoyable holiday time over the next few weeks and look forward to sharing more research in 2017.

In the meantime, if you're still searching for a gift or just looking for something to add to your reading list over the holidays check out the recently released 'Settlements at the Edge' book available for purchase online through Edward Elgar.

Settlements at the Edge examines the evolution, characteristics, functions and shifting economic basis of settlements in sparsely populated areas of developed nations. With a focus on demographic change, the book features theoretical and applied cases which explore the interface between demography, economy, well-being and the environment. This book offers a comprehensive and insightful knowledge base for understanding the role of population in shaping the development and histories of northern sparsely populated areas of developed nations including Alaska (USA), Australia, Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Finland and other nations with territories within the Arctic Circle.

Demography North

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Visualising the demographic components of change

Shaping the age structures of Australian State and Territory populations.

The population pyramid is one of the most popular ways of visualising population age structure. The standard form consists of two rotated histograms of population by age group, with males on the left and females on the right, and the youngest ages at the base and the oldest at the top. This standard population pyramid is often used to summarise the demographic history of a population over the course of the previous century or so. But a key limitation is that it only shows the size of each age-sex group, omitting information on the contributions of different demographic processes which shaped the population’s current age structure. This poster presents a different way of illustrating age structure through components-of-change population pyramids (Wilson, 2016) which show how births, deaths and net migration have shaped the current population age structures of Australian States and Territories.

Components-of-change population pyramids for Australia and its States and Territories

Demography North

Monday, 28 November 2016

Recruit and Retain: Making it Work

Attracting and keeping skilled and professional workers is a challenge shared by ‘norths’ in Australia, Europe and north America. The European Union, through its Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, has funded a consortium of government and academic organisations in Sweden, Scotland, Iceland, Norway and Canada to implement strategies designed to improve recruitment and retention. The Recruit and Retain: Making it Work project will run until the end of 2018. 

Professor Dean Carson
Professor Dean Carson, from the Northern Institute, has been engaged to lead the evaluation work package within the project. At one level, the evaluation approach is quite simple – did the project partners have better recruitment and retention outcomes (reduced turnover, improved ease of attracting new staff) after implementation of the strategies? However, the evaluation is also looking at the spatial and temporal contexts of performance – what has been the history of recruitment and retention in the various project locations and how might conditions outside of the project impact on performance? The evaluation model will be made available to any ‘northern’ organisation to test their own performance. This project continues to build on work we have done in the Northern Territory over the past decade, with a focus on recruitment and retention of nurses, doctors, teachers, dentists, accountants, and engineers amongst others. You can follow the progress of the European project at

Demography North

Monday, 7 November 2016

Going North...

When do people choose to move to the Northern Territory - A historical summary

Demography North

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Territory’s Population: Research insights on current and future changes

The Territory’s Population: Research insights on current and future changes

A Demography and Growth Planning 

research seminar

Wednesday 26 October
Charles Darwin Centre, Darwin
Researchers (L-R): Huw Brokensha; Andrew Taylor; Tom Wilson; Paul Peters; Dean Carson; Lisbeth Harbo

Seminar overview

The Territory’s population continues to change in a dynamic fashion with pre-election attention given to finding ways to address our volatile and spatially disparate rates of growth. After exceeding 2.5% p.a. growth in 2007-2010, growth has stagnated and we are losing national population share. Importantly, recent changes in compositions and sources of migration flows will have long-term demographic and economic implications for the Territory. In this seminar we provide research insights on the causes and consequences of current and likely future changes in the Territory’s population. This seminar draws on our national and international work program. It includes insights from three international guest speakers engaged in addressing population issues in Canada and the north of Europe through applied research. Our national work on developing robust and accurate population projection models emphasises the need to understand our future demography for planning, and equally how difficult this task is.


Demography North

Monday, 24 October 2016

Settlements at the Edge book launch


Please join us to celebrate the launch of ‘Settlements at the Edge’ with a delicious morning tea at the beautiful Northern Editions gallery, ground floor of the CDU Waterfront campus.  The launch includes a chaired panel session at which editors and authors will discuss or debate key themes in the book. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and participate in discussions.

About the book:
Settlements at the Edge examines the evolution, characteristics, functions and shifting economic basis of settlements in sparsely populated areas of developed nations. With a focus on demographic change, the book features theoretical and applied cases which explore the interface between demography, economy, well-being and the environment.

Edited by Northern Institute researchers Andrew Taylor & Dean Carson + Prescott C. Ensign, Lee Huskey, Rasmus Ole Rasmussen, Gertrude Saxinger.

DATE:             Thursday 27 October 2016
TIME:               10.30am – 12 noon
VENUE:            CDU Waterfront Campus
                        21 Kitchener Drive, Darwin
RSVP:      or 8946 7468 (for catering/seating purposes)


Demography North

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Northern Institute researchers to present at 2016 Australian Population Association Conference

The Australian Population Association (APA) presents the 18th Biennial National Conference between Tuesday 29 November and Friday 2 December 2016, Mecure Sydney.

For full details of the conference, the program and registration details see:

Northern Institute Researcher Presentations:

Lessons from past substate population projections

Tom Wilson, Principal Research Fellow, Charles Darwin University
Co-Author          Huw Brokensha
Affiliations: Charles Darwin University
Co-Author          Francisco Rowe
Affiliations: University of Liverpool

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 3:00 PM - 3:30 PM


Local and regional population projections are used for a wide variety of planning, policy formulation, and service delivery activities. But not enough is known about the errors of such projections, particularly over the longer-term (20 years or more). Understanding past errors is valuable for both projection producers and users. This paper evaluates the forecast accuracy of past substate population projections published by State and Territory Governments over the last 30 years. It seeks to establish the extent and patterns of forecast error, whether there have been problems with data and methods which could be rectified in future, and whether error patterns are sufficiently reliable to inform prediction intervals for current projections. Population projections from the past 30 years were sourced from State and Territory Government websites and contacts. Estimated Resident Populations to which the projections were compared were created for the geographical regions of the past projections in ArcGIS. The results mostly confirm earlier findings with regards to the relationship between error and length of projection horizon and population size. But there is a wide variety of error patterns. There may be some scope for creating empirically-based prediction intervals from past error patterns, but further research is required.

Sub-state immigration and emigration estimates for Australia

Tom Wilson, Principal Research Fellow, Charles Darwin University
Friday, December 2, 2016 11:05 AM - 11:25 AM


Even in statistically advanced countries, estimates of regional and local international migration are often lacking. In Australia, immigration and emigration estimates are regularly published for the States and Territories, but not for finer geographical scales. Some sub-state immigration data are available from the census, but for emigration no equivalent data exist. This paper proposes a method for creating sub-state immigration and emigration estimates for Australia which are consistent with state-level Net Overseas Migration Arrivals and Departures data published by the ABS. International migration flows for the period 2006-11 were estimated for 49 sub-state areas comprising Greater Capital City Statistical Areas and SA4 regions outside the capitals. Use is made of ABS state-level Net Overseas Migration Arrivals and Departures by visa/citizenship category, and detailed sub-state census data. Immigration is simply distributed to sub-state areas on the basis of census immigration flows. The estimation of emigration is more complex; state-level flows by visa/citizenship categories are distributed spatially according to different combinations of census variables. The method is shown to produce plausible estimates of immigration and emigration flows at the sub-state scale. These estimates should prove useful for improving our understanding international migration flows in Australia at the regional scale, and for setting population projection assumptions.

The spatial demography of mass displacements from disasters: The case studies of Fukushima and Chernobyl; the largest peacetime emergency displacements

Dr David Karacsonyi, Visiting Fellow, The Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University
Friday, December 2, 2016 2:00 PM - 2:20 PM


Major disasters can lead to mass displacement, one of the most important demographic consequences of such events both for sending and receiving areas. In the case of disasters with long-term environmental impacts, demographic shifts may be permanent. Mass displacements after the nuclear meltdowns at Chernobyl in 1986 and more recently Fukushima in 2011 featured significant permanent emergency evacuations and changed the demographic profiles of entire regions.
Displacement generates new challenges: relationships, networks and social capital needs to be rebuilt within the community; conflicts can occur within the receiving settlement. Thus, mass displacement can easily became a secondary disaster.
In this presentation, we present the demographic impacts resulting from the Chernobyl and Fukushima-affected regions. The core analysis was by Geographic Information Systems based on detailed spatial units using census data. For a more detailed insight we also used mobile phone location data in case of Fukushima and population registration microdata collected by local authorities after Chernobyl. We focus on the spatial aspects of permanent resettlement as it has significant consequences for community futures for the entire regions.

One size most certainly does not fit all: Estimating disability numbers in the NT for the rollout of the NDIS

Dr Andrew Taylor, Senior Research Fellow, Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University
Friday, December 2, 2016 2:00 PM - 2:20 PM


In introducing the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Productivity Commission derived national estimates of the numbers of disabled people meeting the Scheme’s criteria using data from the 2009 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers. Subsequently, the Australian Government Actuary derived State and Territory estimates from these. Jurisdictional estimates were extremely important because they are used to determine funding for jurisdictions for regional NDIS trials around the country. This research explored the quality and reliability of these estimates for the Territory. Our results demonstrated that the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, while being well suited to deriving national NDIS eligible’ population estimates, is demonstrably unsuitable for deriving NT NDIS estimates. Two sets of data, each a combination of two other ABS datasets, were found to be suitable alternatives for this estimation task. Neither of these datasets is fit-for-purpose on its own but suitable estimates can be derived from the two sets together. In this talk we outline the methods and results from this exploration of alternative estimates to highlight definitional, data, estimation and policy issues associated with estimating disability numbers for the rollout and evaluation of the NDIS scheme.

Poster Presentation      

Visualising the demographic components of change shaping State and Territory population age structures

Dec 1, 2016, 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Presenting Author: Tom Wilson
Affiliations: Charles Darwin University

Demography North

Friday, 14 October 2016

A Snapshot of Current Population Issues in the Northern Territory

A Snapshot of Current Population Issues in the Northern Territory

Dr. Andrew Taylor
Dr. Tom Wilson

Research Aim:

The Territory (NT) is at a critical juncture; facing low rates of population growth fuelled by large net interstate migration losses. In the longer term, some major demographic shifts are occurring, with implications for policy and planning. Our findings in this brief were presented at the ‘Northern Population Matters’ symposium, held in Darwin in August 2016. Presentations from the symposium can be viewed on our demographyNorth1 blog page with charts and graphs available for use with appropriate attribution.

See the full research brief at:


  • The Territory is currently in a period of relatively low population growth which is diminishing our share of the national population.
  • A persisting deficit of women is evident across all age groups above 15 years, and particularly amongst those aged 60 years and over.
  • Low growth is being driven by sustained net negative interstate migration which is a result of the following factors:
  • The ‘non-arrivals’ of women and young families with children;
    • declines in the arrivals of those aged 20-39 years;
    • smaller increases to departures in many age groups, especially 40-59 years; and
    • migration losses are most evident from the Darwin Suburbs, Alice Springs and East Arnhem regions;
  • We are no longer competing well enough to attract the same proportions of out-migrants from most States and Territories, with South Australia and Victoria standing out in terms of the loss of ‘market share’.
  • Our population is ageing through large growth in the 65 years and over population, however, the proportion of the population aged 65 plus remains below Australia;
  • Indigenous population growth continues at a steady pace, while non-Indigenous growth rates are far more volatile.
  • Population immobility is relatively low in the Territory, and lowest in Darwin City and Darwin’s northern suburbs.
  • Opportunities exist to address current population issues through reducing the gender imbalance and understanding how we can be more competitive in the interstate migration ‘market’ through research.

Northern Territory arrivers and departers, 2005-2015

Demography North

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Our new book has just been released - Settlements at the Edge

Settlements at the Edge:

Remote Human Settlements in Developed Nations

 New Horizons in Regional Science series

Edited by Andrew Taylor, Senior Research Fellow, Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University, Dean B. Carson, Professor, Charles Darwin University and Flinders University, Australia, UmeĆ„ University and Centre for Rural Medicine, Sweden, Prescott C. Ensign, Dobson Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada, Lee Huskey, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Alaska Anchorage, US, Rasmus Ole Rasmussen, Senior Research Fellow, Nordregio – Nordic Centre for Spatial Development and Nordic Council of Ministers, Stockholm, Sweden, Gertrude Saxinger, Assistant Professor, University of Vienna, Austria and Adjunct Researcher, Yukon College, Canada

 Settlements at the Edge examines the evolution, characteristics, functions and shifting economic basis of settlements in sparsely populated areas of developed nations. With a focus on demographic change, the book features theoretical and applied cases which explore the interface between demography, economy, well-being and the environment. This book offers a comprehensive and insightful knowledge base for understanding the role of population in shaping the development and histories of northern sparsely populated areas of developed nations including Alaska (USA), Australia, Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Finland and other nations with territories within the Arctic Circle.

In the past, many remote settlements were important bases for opening up vast areas for resource extraction, working as strategic centres and as national representations of the conquering of frontiers. With increased contemporary interest from governments, policy makers, multinational companies and other stakeholders, this book explores the importance of understanding relationships between settlement populations and the economy at the local level. It features international and expert contributors who present insightful case studies on the role of human geography – primarily population issues – in shaping the past, present and future of settlements in remote areas. They also provide analysis of opportunities and challenges for northern settlements and the effects of climate change, resource futures and tourism. A chapter on the issues of populating future space settlements highlights that many issues for settlement change and functions in isolated and remote spatial realms are universal.

This book will appeal to those interested in the past, present and future importance of settlements ‘at the edge’ of developed nations as well as to those working in policy and programme contexts. College students enrolled in courses such as demography, population studies, human studies, regional development, social policy and/or economics will find value in this book as well.

The hard copy book can be purchased from:

The official online ebook version from:

Demography North

Monday, 26 September 2016

How reliable are Indigenous population projections?

How reliable are Indigenous population projections?

Tom Wilson
Andrew Taylor

Demography and Growth Planning, Northern Institute

Projections of Australia’s Indigenous population are used in a wide range of planning, service provision, policy development, and research activities. But apart from a very general sense that Indigenous population data are imprecise, little is known about the reliability of these projections. This paper evaluates several past sets of ABS Indigenous population projections. It addresses the question ‘How well did past ABS Indigenous projections predict the Indigenous Estimated Resident Populations (ERPs) five years later?’ Past ABS projections of the Indigenous population are assessed against subsequent ERPs using Percentage Discrepancy measures. Both total and age-specific populations are evaluated. The results show that ABS Indigenous projections have generally not predicted the next census year’s ERP very well, with the exception of the Northern Territory. Users should be prepared for the large levels of discrepancy revealed in this study for past projections to be repeated with the most recent set of Indigenous projections. 

See the full research brief here

Demography North

New ways for old ceremonies: keeping country and kin alive in the digital age (ARC Project)

New ways for old ceremonies: keeping country and kin alive in the digital age (ARC Project)

Dr Linda Ford 
Senior Research Fellow

Northern Institute
Charles Darwin University

This aim of this research is to develop and implement suitable Indigenous frameworks for the preservation, interpretation and dissemination of recordings of ceremonial performances in the Wagait/Daly region of the
Northern Territory of Australia. The focus of the research is a body of recordings documented by early anthropologists and missionaries of
the final mortuary ceremonies performed. Dr Ford aim is to preserve and extend the power of this ceremony for the benefit of future generations of Indigenous people and Australia.

Ceremonial performance is a key process for integrating Indigenous knowledge from many different
domains, and a socially powerful site of exchange, transmission and transformation of relationship to
country and kin. This research aims to extend the power of this ceremony from the present recordings, and
to retrace the first written documented records of anthropologists and Jesuit missionaries from 1891 – 1899
and onward.

Dr Linda Ford is Aboriginal and identifies as Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu, from Kurrindju, on the Finniss River, in the Northern Territory and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Northern Institute at CDU, with whom she has a long association. Her knowledge, expertise and research in working with Indigenous groups is clearly invaluable to the Northern Institute. Dr Ford graduated with her PhD (Education), 2006 from Deakin University. 
Read Dr Ford’s full profile HERE

When           Thursday 29 September 2016              
                     2.30pm – 4.00pm
                     Afternoon tea provided

Where          Northern Institute, Yellow Building 1, Level 2, Room 48 (Savanna Room)(MAP)
RSVP             by Wednesday 28 September via Outlook or

Northern Institute

Charles Darwin University
Darwin, Northern Territory 0909 AUSTRALIA
CRICOS Provider No. 00300K | RTO Provider No. 0373


Northern Institute acknowledges the traditional owners
and custodians across the lands on which we live and
work and we pay our respects to elders both past and


Demography North

Friday, 12 August 2016

Demography & Growth Planning at the Northern Institute

Demography North 

12. Wilson_Future population of NT

Demography North

11. Carson_Understanding Remote Population Change

Demography North

10. Vuin_Migration against the tide

Demography North

9. Bowen_Northern Australian development and prospects for population growth

Demography North

8. Pathirage_Sri Lankans in Darwin

Demography North

7. Stuart_Population ageing in the NT

Demography North

6. Salmon_Mobility of school students in the Territory

Demography North

5. Corcoran_The role of mobility in educational pathways

Demography North

4. Taylor_Demography of Developing NA

Demography North

3. Grubb_The Census in northern Australia

Demography North

2. Golebiowska_Attracting and retaining workers in the north

Demography North

1. Taylor & Wilson_Current demographic issues in NT

Demography North

Introduction to Northern Population Matters symposium

Demography North

Northern Population Matters Symposium Program

Demography North