Culturally & linguistically diverse people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Generally, ageing-related conditions affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at a younger age than non-Indigenous Australians. This reflects the generally poorer health of Indigenous Australians compared with other Australians. Hence, planning for aged care services takes account of the Indigenous population aged 50 and over and 65 and over for non-Indigenous Australians.

In 2016, there were more than 650,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 3% of the total Australian population [4]. Of these:

  • 17% (108,000) were aged 50 and older
  • 5% (31,000) were aged 65 and over
  • less than 1% (0.3%) were aged 85 and over.

The proportions for those aged 65 and over, and 85 and over, are considerably smaller than equivalents for the non-Indigenous population (which were 16% and 2.1%, respectively), reflecting the higher mortality rate and lower life expectancy of Indigenous Australians (Figure 1). Just over half (53%) of Indigenous people aged 50 and over were women, similar to the non-Indigenous older population, demonstrating the longer life expectancy of women in both populations [1, 4].

In 2010–12, the estimated life expectancy at age 65 for Indigenous people was a further 13.9 years for males and 15.8 years for females [5]. An Indigenous girl born between 2010–12 had a life expectancy of 73.7 years, almost 10 years (9.5 years) less than for a non-Indigenous girl born in the same period [6]. The equivalent difference was greater for males: an Indigenous boy born between 2010–12 had a life expectancy that was 10.6 years less (69.1 years) than for a non-Indigenous boy (79.7 years) [5].

People born overseas

Older Australia is made up of people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In 2016, just over 3 in 10 (33%) people aged 65 and over were born overseas, up from 25% in 1981 [3].

One-fifth (20%) of people aged 65 and over in 2016 were born in a non-English speaking country, and a further 10% of older people were born in the United Kingdom and Ireland [4].

The most common non-English speaking countries of birth for older people were Italy (3% of all older people), Greece (2%) and Germany (1%). Italian was the most common non-English language spoken at home by people aged 65 and over in 2016 (110,000 people), then Greek (73,000) and Chinese (80,000) [3].

For more information on people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, see Diverse groups of older Australians.

Geographic distribution

Australia can be broadly divided into regions: Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote and Very remote. In 2016, 66% of older people (2.4 million) lived in Major cities, 32% (1.2 million) in Inner regional and Outer regional areas and just over 1% (52,600) in Remote or Very Remote areas [4].

The most populous states have the largest share of older people, with one-third (33%) of all people aged 65 and over in 2016 living in New South Wales and 25% in Victoria. However, older people as a proportion of the total population varied across the jurisdictions: people aged 65 and over made up 19% of Tasmania's population, followed by South Australia (18%), New South Wales (16%) and Queensland (15%). Notably, just 7% of the Northern Territory's population was aged 65 and over, reflecting its larger Indigenous population [2]. 

You can explore the characteristics of older people in Australia in the interactive map.

References

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017. Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, 2016. Canberra: ABS. Viewed 05 May 2018.
  2. ABS 2017. Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016. Ageing population, 2016. Canberra: ABS. Viewed 15 May 2018.
  3. ABS 2017. Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016. Cultural diversity in Australia, 2016. Canberra: ABS. Viewed 05 May 2018.
  4. ABS 2017. Census, unpublished data generated using ABS TableBuilder. Canberra: ABS.
  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2015. Mortality and life expectancy of Indigenous Australians 2008 to 2012. Cat. no. IHW 140. Canberra: AIHW
  6. DSS (Department of Social Services) 2014–15 report on the operation of the Aged Care Act 1997. Canberra: DSS.