As you would expect, rural and remote populations differ from urban ones in a number of important ways. The sections below will outline some of the key demographic and health related differences.
A useful way of examining the rural and remote population is by considering:
- Geographic distribution (by ASGC)
- Population growth and decline
- Population density
- Indigenous population
Australia’s population is heavily concentrated in metropolitan areas. At June 2008, 68.8% of the total population was located in major cities, as defined by the ASGC. By comparison, only 2.3% of the population resides in a remote or very remote area.
Following this, major cities experience the strongest population growth. In the 12 months to June 2008, major cities grew by 1.8%. However, remote areas experienced the slowest growth overall at 0.8%. Also, population losses mostly occurred in inland rural Australia, particularly in eastern and southern Australia.
The capital cities have the highest population densities overall, particularly Sydney. The ‘Sydney (C) – East’ Statistical Local Area (SLA) has the highest population density in Australia at 8,400 people per square kilometer, well above the national average of 2.8 people per square kilometre! Yet, more than 250 SLAs have less than one person per square kilometre. And around one third of these sparsely populated areas are located in Western Australia.
The number of Indigenous persons increases in line with increasing remoteness by ASGC. The Indigenous population represents just 1% of the major cities population and 8% of regional areas but 58% of remote areas in 2006.
- The smallest proportion of the total population reside in remote areas
- Population growth is slowest for remote areas but fastest for major cities
- Capital cities have the highest population densities
- Indigenous population increases with increasing remoteness