Who are Australia's females?

As at June 30 2016, there were 12.1 million females living in Australia (50.3% of the total population), which means there were 101.2 females for every 100 males [1]. Most females (66%) were younger than 50 and 16% were aged 65 or over. Their median age was 38.3 years, which is higher than the median age for males (36.5 years).

Females are a diverse population, with differing health behaviours, conditions and health service use across a range of characteristics. The characteristics of five particular population groups are described below.

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status

In 2017, around 372,000 Australian females (3.1%) identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander [1, 2]. Indigenous females tend to be younger than non-Indigenous females (35% aged less than 15, compared with 18% of non-Indigenous females), they are culturally diverse (19% speak an Indigenous language and 63% identify with a clan, tribal or language group) and they outnumber males in later life (118 females for every 100 males aged 65 or over) [2, 3].


From the 2011 ABS census, 70% of the Australian female population live in Major cities, 19% live in Inner regional areas, 9.0% live in Outer regional areas, and 2.1% live in Remote and Very remote areas [4]. Females living in Remote and Very remote areas are outnumbered by males (86 females for every 100 males) and are community-minded (25% volunteer for a group or organisation, compared with 18% of females from Major cities) [4].

Socioeconomic disadvantage

Some Australian females are more disadvantaged than others. Fifteen per cent of females are experiencing poverty and around 46,000 are homeless [5, 6]. There are around 3,000 Australian female prisoners in adult corrective services custody [7]. More than half (56%) of females aged 15 and over are employed either full-time or part-time and 58% have a non-school qualification [8, 9].

Region of birth

More than a quarter (27%) of the Australian female population were born overseas. Of those born overseas, the majority were born in the United Kingdom (followed by New Zealand and China), and overseas-born females outnumber males (102 females for every 100 males). [10]

Age group 

In 2016, 22% of the total female population were aged under 18, 62% were aged 18–64, and 16% were aged 65 or over [1]. The number of women aged 65 and over is increasing (by the year 2030 they are predicted to account for 18 to 19% of the total female population), they outnumber males (114 females for every 100 males), 38% are widowed, 32% live alone and 22% need assistance with one or more of the core everyday activities of self-care, mobility and communication [11].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016a. Australian Demographic Statistics: June 2016. ABS cat. no. 3101.0. Canberra: ABS.
  2. ABS 2016b. Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026. ABS cat. no. 3238.0. Canberra: ABS.
  3. ABS 2016c. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014–15. ABS cat. no. 4714.0. Canberra.
  4. ABS 2012a. Census of population and housing, 2011: Microdata (Table Builder). ABS.
  5. Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) 2016. Poverty in Australia 2016. NSW: ACOSS.
  6. ABS 2012b. Census of population and housing: Estimating homelessness, 2011. ABS cat. no. 2049.0. Canberra: ABS.
  7. ABS 2016d. Prisoners in Australia, 2016. ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS.
  8. ABS 2017a. Labour Force, Australia, Feb 2017. ABS cat. no. 6202.0. Canberra: ABS.
  9. ABS 2016e. Education and work, Australia, May 2016. ABS cat. no. 6227.0. Canberra: ABS.
  10. ABS 2017b. Migration, Australia, 2015–16. ABS cat. no. 3412.0. Canberra: ABS.
  11. ABS 2013. Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012–13. ABS cat. no. 2071.0. Canberra: ABS.