Who are Australia's females?

As at 30 June 2017, there were 12.4 million females living in Australia (50.4% of the total population), which means there were 101.6 females for every 100 males (ABS 2018a). Most females (66%) were younger than 50 and 16% were aged 65 or over. Their median age was 38.1 years, which is higher than the median age for males (36.4 years) (ABS 2018i).

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.

Age group 

In 2017, 22% of the total female population were aged under 18, 62% were aged 18–64, and 16% were aged 65 or over (ABS 2018a). The number of women aged 65 and over is increasing (by the year 2040 they are projected to account for about 20% of the total female population) (ABS 2018h), they outnumber males (116 females for every 100 males), 33% are widowed, 32% live alone and 20% need assistance with one or more of the core everyday activities of self-care, mobility and communication (ABS 2018c; ABS 2018d).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females

In 2016, the estimated residential population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females was nearly 400,000 (3.2% of the female population) (ABS 2018a). Indigenous females tend to be younger than non-Indigenous females (34% aged less than 15, compared with 18% of non-Indigenous females) (ABS 2018e). They are culturally diverse (19% speak an Indigenous language and 63% identify with a clan, tribal or language group), and they outnumber males in older age groups (122 females for every 100 males aged 65 or over) (ABS 2016; ABS 2018a).

Remoteness

From the 2016 ABS census, 71% of the Australian female population live in Major cities, 18% live in Inner regional areas, 8.3% live in Outer regional areas, and 1.9% live in Remote and Very remote areas (ABS 2018c). Females living in Remote and Very remote areas are outnumbered by males (89 females for every 100 males) and are community-minded (20% volunteer for a group or organisation, compared with 16% of females from Major cities) (ABS 2018c).

Socioeconomic disadvantage

Some Australian females are more disadvantaged than others. Fifteen per cent of females are experiencing poverty and around 49,000 are homeless (ABS 2018b; ACOSS 2016). There are around 3,300 Australian female prisoners in adult corrective services custody (ABS 2017b). Nearly 7 out of 10 females (69%) aged 15–64 are employed and 59% of 15–74 year old females have a non-school qualification (ABS 2017a; ABS 2018f).

Region of birth

Almost a third (29%) of the Australian female population were born overseas. Of those born overseas, the majority were born in England (followed by China, New Zealand and India), and overseas-born females outnumber males (104 females for every 100 males) (ABS 2018g).

References

  • ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2016. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014–15. ABS cat. no. 4714.0. Canberra.
  • ABS 2017a. Education and Work, Australia, May 2017. ABS cat. no. 6227.0. Canberra: ABS.
  • ABS 2017b. Prisoners in Australia, 2017. ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS.
  • ABS 2018a. Australian Demographic Statistics: March 2018. ABS cat. no. 3101.0. Canberra: ABS.
  • ABS 2018b. Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016. ABS cat. no. 2049.0. Canberra: ABS.
  • ABS 2018c. Census of Population and Housing, 2016: Microdata (Table Builder). ABS.
  • ABS 2018d. Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016. ABS cat. no. 2071.0. Canberra: ABS. 
  • ABS 2018e. Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016. ABS cat. no. 3238.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
  • ABS 2018f. Labour Force, Australia, Oct 2018. ABS cat. no. 6202.0. Canberra: ABS.
  • ABS 2018g. Migration, Australia, 2016–17. ABS cat. no. 3412.0. Canberra: ABS.
  • ABS 2018h. Population Projections, Australia, 2017 (base) ­– 2066. ABS cat. no. 3222.0. Canberra: ABS.
  • ABS 2018i. Regional Population by Age and Sex, Australia, 2017. ABS cat. no. 3235.0. Canberra: ABS.
  • ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Service) 2016. Poverty in Australia 2016. NSW: ACOSS.