Source: The Mercury, 20 January 1995, p. 7
By COLIN CHUNG in Canberra AUSTRALIA'S population continues to grow older with the average age increasing by almost six years in the past two decades. Bureau of Statistics fig- ures released yesterday found there had been little growth in the number of children (0.5 per cent) but the number of people aged over 85 had risen almost 140 per cent. People aged between 15 and 64 increased by 36 per cent and those aged 65 and over rose 79 per cent for the 20-year period. It has resulted in the me- dian age in Australia rising by 5.6 years from 27.8 in 1974 to 33.4 last year. The median age in 1993 was 33 years. The bureau said declining death rates and increased life expectancy were having a major impact on older age groups. "There are now 182,000 persons aged 85 years and over in the population com- pared with 76,500 20 years ago, an increase of 138 per cent," it said. "There are more than twice as many females as males in this age group [127,900 compared to 54,100]. "During the financial year 1993-94 it is estimated that this age group increased by 10,600 persons or 6 per cent, well above the 1 per cent growth rate for the Aus- tralian population." Increases above the na- tional average were recorded in the Northern Territory 5.7 per cent, ACT 4.2 per cent, Queensland 3.8 per cent, and Western Australia 2.9 per cent. NSW 2.3 per cent, Victoria 2.1 per cent, South Australia 1.9 per cent and Tasmania 1.8 per cent had increases below the national average. The ABS said the number of children (up to 14 years) in Australia had remained steady. Queensland experienced the most significant growth last year of 1.8 per cent followed by the Northern Territory 1.1 per cent, West- ern Australia 0.6 per cent 0.5 per cent in NSW, and 0.2 per cent in South Australia.
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