Skip to Content
 Close search

Report on Government Services 2024


2 Statistical context

The Statistical context contains information to assist interpretation of the performance information in this report. It includes information and data on population, families and households, and income and employment. Information on some of the statistical concepts that are used in the report is available in the Statistical concepts note.

Data referenced by a '2A' prefix (for example, table 2A.1) is included in the data tables, which can be downloaded below.


The Australian people are the principal recipients of the government services covered by this report. The size, trends and characteristics of the population1 can have significant influences on the demand for government services and the cost of service delivery.

Population size and trends

More than three‑quarters of Australia’s 26.0 million people lived in the eastern mainland states as at 30 June 2022. As the majority of Australia’s population lives in the eastern mainland states, data for these jurisdictions generally has a large influence on national averages. Nationally, the average annual growth rate of the population between 2018 and 2022 was approximately 1.0% (table 2A.1).

As in most other developed economies, greater life expectancy and declining fertility have contributed to an ‘ageing’ of Australia’s population. However, the age distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is markedly different to that of all Australians (figure 2.1). At 30 June 2022, 12.1% of Australia’s population was aged 70 years or over, compared with just 2.3% of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population as at 30 June 2016 (tables 2A.1 and 2A.4).

The most recent estimate of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population (2016) is used to make comparisons with the most recent estimated Australian population (2021). Annual data is based on the 2016 Census of Population and Housing and is available in tables 2A.1 and 2A.4.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population

There were an estimated 798,365 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (50.1% female, similar to the total population) in Australia at 30 June 2016, accounting for approximately 3.3% of the total Australian population in 2016 (figure 2.2).

Figure 2.2 is based on the 2016 Census. Data based on the 2021 Census is due for release in mid-2024. The 2021 Census based population estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is 25.0% higher than the 2016 Census count. More than half of the increase is due to non-demographic factors, such as changes in whether a person identifies as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin and changes in the Census coverage and response rates.

Population, by ethnicity and proficiency in English

Some new Australians face specific problems when accessing government services. Language and cultural differences can be formidable barriers for otherwise capable people. Cultural backgrounds can also have a significant influence on the support networks offered by extended families.

People born outside Australia accounted for 27.7% of the population in August 2021 (8.0% from the main English speaking countries and 19.7% from other countries) (table 2A.7). Of those born outside Australia, 89.4% spoke only English, or spoke another language as well as speaking English well or very well (table 2A.6). Approximately 22.3% of Australians spoke a language other than English at home in August 2021 (table 2A.8).

Population, by geographic location

Those living in remote areas can have greater difficulty in accessing government services, often needing to travel long distances, or facing lower service levels than provided in major cities. The Australian population is highly urbanised, with 72.2% of the population located in major cities as at 30 June 2022 (table 2A.3).

Family and household

Family structure

There were 7.5 million families in Australia in June 2022. Nationally, 36.8% of families had at least one child aged under 15 years, and 16.1% of families had at least one child aged under five years (table 2A.10). Lone parent families might have a greater need for government support and particular types of government services (such as child care for respite reasons). Nationally in June 2023, 19.7% of families with children aged under 15 years were lone parent families (table 2A.11).

Employment status also has implications for the financial independence of families. Nationally in June 2023, in 3.9% of couple families with children under 15 years neither parent was employed. For lone parent families with children under 15 years, in 3.7% of families the parent was unemployed (table 2A.12).

Household profile

There were a projected 10.3 million households in Australia at 30 June 2023 (based on the 2016 Census), and 25.0% of these were lone person households (table 2A.14). As at 30 June 2023, the proportion of people aged 65 years or over who lived alone (24.3%) was around three times higher than the proportion for people aged 15–64 years (8.4%).

Income and employment


Nationally in August 2021, 16.8% of people aged 15 years or over had a relatively low weekly individual income of $299 or less (table 2A.16). The proportion was higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (24.7%) and more than four times higher for younger people (73.9% for people aged 15–19 years) (tables 2A.17 and 2A.18).

Nationally, 16.9% of the total population was receiving income support in June 2023, a decrease from 17.1% in June 2022 due to the reduction in the proportion of people receiving a labour market program allowance (a decrease from 3.5% in 2022 to 3.3% in 2023) (table 2A.19).

Employment and workforce participation

Of the 14.6 million people aged 15 years or over in the labour force in Australia in June 2023, 96.7% were employed. The majority of employed people (70.1%) were in full-time employment. Nationally, the unemployment rate was 3.3% (table 2A.24). The unemployment rate needs to be interpreted within the context of labour force participation rates (the proportion of the working age population either in employment or actively looking for work). The labour force participation rate for Australia was 66.9% in June 2023 (table 2A.24). When compared to June 2022, the unemployment rate has decreased (from 3.4%) and the labour force participation rate has increased (from 66.8 %). These changes reflect, at least in part, the improvement in labour market activity since 2021 with the lifting of COVID‑19 related social distancing and other business restrictions, increasing people's hours, availability for work or ability to look for work (AIHW 2023).

Income and employment are strongly influenced by education. Census data on highest level of schooling and type of educational institution attended is available in tables 2A.20–23. Additional educational data is also available in Part B of this report (Child care, education and training).


AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2023, Australia’s welfare 2023 data insights. Australia’s welfare series no. 16. Cat. no. AUS 246, Canberra.


  1. Population data in this report is based on Census of Population and Housing counts, undertaken in August every five years, and updated in intervening years. Due to the phased release of Census data, in some years, population data for some groups (such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) may be based on older Census releases than other key population data. Locate Footnote 1 above

Publications feedback

We value your comments about this publication and encourage you to provide feedback.

Submit publications feedback