Population Ageing in the Northern Territory of Australia: We Didn’t See That Coming!

Andrew J. Taylor, Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University
Fiona Shalley, Charles Darwin University
Sigurd Dyrting, Charles Darwin University
James Thurmer , Charles Darwin University

The Northern Territory of Australia is a sparsely settled jurisdiction in the northern center of the landmass with a population of 245,000 and less than one resident per square kilometer on average. It is by far the youngest of all of Australia’s States and Territories with a median age of 33 years compared to 37 years nationally. This is largely because of the concentration of internal migration into early-career ages and from the extremely young age profile of Indigenous residents who comprise thirty percent of the population. However, the Northern Territory has now entered a period of rapid population ageing, some 20 years after the processes began nationally. Significant increases and rates of growth for both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population are occurring. To date, policy responses to what was largely a predictable demographic trajectory have been minimal. In this study we map out the demographic causes for delayed ageing and plot population outcomes from the transition. From this we outline policy implications in relation to the opportunities population ageing is bringing, including positively influencing population growth at a time of stagnation, as well as the challenges. Not least, a circa 500% increase is projected for numbers of senior Indigenous residents; most of whom reside in very small communities in remote areas. This will created demands for aged-care and related services in such communities where pre-existing basic infrastructure like transport and health care services are extremely limited.

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 Presented in Session P2. Poster Session Ageing, Health and Mortality