Population Ageing in Northern Australia: Seniors’ Voices on Ageing in Place


Similar to most northern developed jurisdictions, Northern Australia has perennially featured a youthful population composition due to a high Indigenous composition and a young non-Indigenous population for whom migration flows are concentrated in young ages. However, demographic pre-cursors are now in place that will bring about relatively rapid and proportionally substantial population ageing in the population of the north of Australia, as has occurred elsewhere. More seniors will bring many opportunities from the social, economic and other capital they provide. Seniors will balance population compositions towards a less male dominated and less youthful structure, helping to reduce high rates of turnover. Nevertheless, there will be challenges and governments for northern Australian jurisdictions will in coming decades face structural shifts in population profiles and the economy. To date ageing in the north has received little in the way of policy attention, but planning for the needs of seniors and their communities must be forthcoming. This paper reports on the causes and consequences of these circumstances and provides research insights from soon-to-be and existing seniors on their hopes and concerns around ‘ageing in place’ in the north. We then ponder what governments might do to maximise potential benefits in the face of this significant demographic and social change. While delayed ageing in the north affords governments at all levels with opportunities to learn from the experiences, policies and programs of other areas, concerted consultation with seniors is necessary to deliver optimal support and community benefit for those who wish to ‘age in place’ in the north.

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The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of the Council of the Ageing Northern Territory in assisting with the research discussed in this paper. Specifically, the Council administered the surveys to Seniors in the community.

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Correspondence to Hannah Payer.

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Taylor, A., Payer, H. Population Ageing in Northern Australia: Seniors’ Voices on Ageing in Place. Population Ageing 10, 181–196 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12062-016-9156-0

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  • Population ageing
  • Ageing in place
  • Northern Australia
  • Remote areas
  • Indigenous population
  • Human geography