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Regional Population, 2020-21

Regional Population, 2020-21

Reference period: -

  • This release of substate population data reveals the uneven distribution of COVID-19 on Australia’s population.
  • In the 12 months to June 2021, the combined capital cities population declined for the first time on record — falling to -0.1 per cent from an average of 1.8 per cent over the decade prior to the pandemic.
  • Overall, this was driven by a large net outflow of 85,000 overseas migrants from capital cities as well as increased internal migration from capital cities to regional areas. Natural increase (births less deaths) was largely unchanged from the previous year.
    • Melbourne had the largest population decline, with a loss of 61,000 people (-1.2 per cent), driven by large net outflows of both overseas migrants and internal migrants.
  • Regional areas grew at a similar rate to the previous year. This was driven by record levels of internal migration, with regional areas gaining 49,000 people from capital cities in 2020-21, up from 30,000 in 2019-20.1
    • Some of the fastest growing areas of Australia were populated areas near major cities, with strong growth in Geelong, the Hunter Valley and the Sunshine Coast, mostly driven by internal migration gains.


Internal migration figures may be influenced by data quality issues, see Data Notes section for details.


1. Regional areas include all areas outside of capital cities, including non-capital cities such as the Gold Coast and Newcastle.


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