Monday, 19 March 2018

Population change in Katherine and beyond: A 2017 update

Dr. Andrew Taylor


As for most remote parts of the world, population change is important to Katherine and the region. Armed with new 2016 Census data, demographic researchers from CDU’s Northern Institute went on a 'Demography Roadshow' in late 2017 to update seminar guests on trends, implications and future directions for Katherine 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 Katherine seminar are outlined in this blog post.

Figure 1: Geography and baseline Census data for Katherine town and region


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

  • Experiencing long term but quite slow population growth.
  • Exchanging population unfavourably with the rest of Australia (with a lot of exchange being defence related).
  • Changing in composition (age and gender)
  • Becoming more multicultural (Top 5 countries of birth other than Australia: Philippines, England, New Zealand, India and the  USA).
  • Getting older: The number of people aged 65+ has been increasing substantially between the 2011 and 2016 census. 


Challenges, opportunities & insights for Katherine

  • Our research shows increasing population volatility is becoming 'the norm' for places like Katherine;
  • Changes to the economic foundations mean that volatility is likely to favour slow growth over the long term;
  • The old industries will continue to be important economically, but there needs to be some focus on new activities for demographic growth (if you want it);
  • Small changes are more likely to succeed than the ‘silver bullet’ (although they take longer);
  • ‘Focus’ is not a bad thing – some of those interesting things might be interesting;
  • Transformation (tourism, agriculture etc) might be challenging, but rewarding in the longer term. 

For more insights on how and why the Territory and the regional populations are changing, and what the future might hold, download our recent report titled "Synthesising Northern Territory Population Research (follow the link below to the Northern Institute's report page):

Synthesising Northern Territory Population Research