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What story does the 2021 Census tell us

The Census provides a snapshot of Australia. It tells the story of who we are and how we are changing. It provides a picture of the economic, social and cultural make-up of Australia. The 2021 Census took place on Tuesday 10 August 2021.

The 2021 Census tells us about where we live:

  • Almost 80 per cent of Australian residents live in eastern Australia in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
  • NSW continues to be the largest state with over 8 million people, with Victoria not far behind with 6.5 million people.
  • ACT had the fastest growth with a 14.4 per cent (57,102 people) increase since 2016.
  • 66.9 per cent of people counted were in Greater Capital Cities and 33.1 per cent were in the rest of Australia.
  • Greater Sydney remains the largest city in Australia with 5.2 million people, followed by Melbourne with 4.9 million people and Brisbane with 2.5 million people.

The median age of all Australians remains at 38 years in 2021. Males make up 49.3 per cent of the population with a median age of 37 years and females make up 50.7 per cent with a median age of 39 years.

Australia is undergoing a significant generational shift. Baby Boomers and Millennials each have over 5.4 million people, with only 5,662 more Baby Boomers than Millennials counted on 10 August 2021.

The Census found that 812,728 people identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. This is an increase of over 25 per cent (25.2 per cent) since 2016, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now representing 3.2 per cent of the Australian population. 

  • Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people counted: 91.4 per cent identified as Aboriginal; 4.2 per cent identified as Torres Strait Islander; 4.4 per cent identified as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
  • Two thirds (515,347) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population live in New South Wales and Queensland.
  • Traditional languages continue to be an important part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households. 167 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages were used at home in 2021 by 76,978 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The most widely reported language groups used were Arnhem Land and Daly River Region Languages (14.5 per cent) and Torres Strait Island Languages (12.0 per cent).

The Census provides a snapshot of the diversity of cultures and languages that make up Australia.

Australia has a rich mix of cultural backgrounds and heritage, with the number of people living in Australia who were born overseas continuing to increase.

  • The proportion of Australian residents that are born overseas (first generation) or have a parent born overseas (second generation) has moved above 50 per cent (51.5 per cent).
  • The top five most commonly reported ancestries in the 2021 Census followed previous trends and included English at 33.0 per cent, Australian at 29.9 per cent, Irish at 9.5 per cent, Scottish at 8.6 per cent and Chinese at 5.5 per cent.

Australia continues to be a culturally and linguistically diverse country with the growth of communities from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Iraq and the Philippines. 

The use of languages at home reflects our changing communities:

  • Mandarin continues to be the most common language other than English with 685,274 people using Mandarin at home.
  • This is followed by Arabic (367,159 people), Vietnamese (320,758 people), and Cantonese (295,281 people).
  • Punjabi had the largest increase, with the 2021 Census showing 239,033 people using Punjabi at home.
  • Nepali featured in the top five languages used at home in both ACT (1.3 per cent) and Tasmania (1.3 per cent).

 Visit to learn more about  the 2021 Census.

Source:, Released 28 Jun 2022.

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