Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Population Change in Alice Springs & beyond: A 2017 update

Dr. Andrew Taylor

As for most remote parts of the world, population change is important to Alice Spring and the Central Australia region. Armed with new 2016 Census data, demographic researchers from CDU’s Northern Institute went on a 'Demography Roadshow' to update seminar guests on trends, implications and future directions for Alice and beyond. The Australian Bureau of Statistics delivered key Census data insights and contemplated the region’s population futures based on similar places and in light of global trends. The main findings of the Alice Springs seminar are outlined in this blog post.

Figure 1: Geography and base data for Alice Springs and Central Australia Region


 Based on the 2016 Census, we can say summarise that Alice Springs in 2017 is…

  • Not growing much but has potential to do so through New Migrant Communities (such as from India, the Philippines, Taiwan and Sri Lanka).
  • More female leading to a different gender profile compared to the rest of the NT.
  • Getting older: The number of people aged 65+ increased substantially between the 2011 and 2016 census. 
  • More multicultural due to New Migrant Communities.
  • A bit more affordable as the proportion of household income spent on mortgage decreased compared to the 2011 last census.
  • An established hub for same sex couples with the proportion of couples who are same sex being well above the national average (1.6% compared to 0.9%).


Challenges, opportunities and insights for Alice Springs (Dean Carson)

  • Increasing population volatility is becoming the norm for remote places in developed countries.
  • Changes to the economic foundations mean that volatility is likely to favour slow growth over the long term.
  • The economic pillars of resource, defence and government transfers are becoming less impactful on population because of technology and workforce changes (the latter sees jobs becoming increasingly distant to the activity).
  • The old industries will continue to be important, but there needs to be some focus on new activities.
  • Small changes are more likely than the ‘silver bullet’.
  • ‘focus’ is not a bad thing – some of those interesting things might be interesting.
  • Tourism as a stimulus requires careful thought.
  • Local or global? Votes for both.