Australian Population Association 16th Biennial Conference.
In October 2009, Ken Henry, former Secretary of the Commonwealth Treasury, described population growth as the biggest challenge facing Commonwealth and State governments since Federation. Since then, publication of the third Inter-generational Report, the Commonwealth Government’s Sustainable Population Strategy and various other reports have highlighted the demographic challenges that Australia faces.
Even with modest growth assumptions, Australia’s population is projected to increase over the next forty years by 50 per cent more than it has over the last 40 years. Most of this increase is expected to occur in cities; an already urbanised nation is becoming more so. Melbourne and Sydney, for instance, might reach seven million by 2050. In such circumstances, what should Government be doing to address the perennial, yet now more pressing, problems of housing, transport, land and resource management and the demand for services?
Added to this is the issue of ageing. The number and proportion of people aged 60 and over is increasing rapidly as baby boomers reach retirement ages, life expectancy continues to increase and birth rates remain below replacement level. The balance between people of working ages and people of retirement ages is changing radically, thereby changing demand for services and the means for government to provide those services. Furthermore there is a regional dimension to ageing.
Some coastal and rural areas already have old populations, a high demand for health and other services, but difficulties attracting the workforce and skills to meet those demands.
The Australian Population Association conference offers the opportunity to debate and discuss the full range of demographic issues facing Australian governments. Supporting this will be presentations of first analysis of 2011 Australian Census results. We hope you will be able to participate and contribute to this important area of government policy and practice.