Small Area Population Projections

Small Area Population Projections for Australia (SAPP)

This project assembles and provides access in a single location to an integrated set of population projections by age and sex at the local area level across Australia. The local area level is represented by datasets at LGA and SLA level, as it is not possible to obtain coverage for the whole of Australia using a single geographic level. The projections assembled in this repository are the official 2006-based population projections produced by the responsible agency in each State or Territory. Projections have been provided at five-year intervals for the period 2006-2031 or to an earlier projection year where they are not available to 2031.
L1.2 Population Pyramid Chart

Screenshot: population pyramid chart

Project Overview

Previously there was no central repository of small area population projections across Australia that could be accessed by users. Researchers requiring small area data for regions in more than one state find it frustrating and limiting to try to obtain these data from multiple jurisdictions. This task is made more complex by differing projection bases, projection horizons, and methodologies.

The five mainland states and the ACT previously agreed in principle to allow their existing 2006-based small area projections to be made available through a central repository, provided that such projections were accompanied by caveats and other key information seen as critical for correct interpretation. As part of the AURIN mission of facilitating access to key information required to facilitate robust and rigorous research, this project aims to implement this agreement by bringing together these datasets, plus the small area projections for Tasmania, in a single repository that can be readily accessed and providing tools that assist interpretation and analysis.

As part of the AURIN mission of facilitating access to key information required to facilitate robust and rigorous research, this project brings together these datasets in a single repository that can be readily accessed.

The datasets held in the repository are for five year age groups at five year intervals, covering the period 2006-2031 for males and females. There are approximately 1400 SLAs in Australia, but no projections are available for the 66 SLAs in the Northern Territory, or for several of the SLAs in Western Australia and Tasmania. There are approximately 560 LGAs in Australia, but no projections are available for the 17 LGAs in the Northern Territory. Projections are not available for some indigenous communities in Queensland, affecting both the LGA and SLA datasets.

LGA projections exclude the unincorporated parts of some states. The necessity of ensuring that all projections are on 2006 boundaries has meant that projections for a few LGAs or SLAs affected by complex post-2006 boundary changes could not be obtained.

All States and Territories update their population projections on a regular basis. Several jurisdictions have produced population projections on the most recent geographical standard (ASGS) that are more up-to-date than those provided here, but as not all have done so, currently the only small area data available at a national level are those on 2006 ASGC LGA and SLA boundaries. Users are strongly advised to refer to the respective website for each State and Territory to obtain the most up-to-date population projections available, as well as those used in this project.

Accurate interpretation of the population projections requires a clear understanding of the nature of the data. The projections are therefore to be accompanied by extensive metadata that explain key features. These were initially drawn from the documentation made available by the states and territories, but were modified and supplemented to a consistent and coherent statistical standard to enhance rigour and increase transparency to users.

This transformation of metadata presented one of the most challenging aspects of the project, as it was essential to ensure that the resulting metadata made available to users through AURIN are agreeable to each originating state, while meeting AURIN’s technical requirements and adhering to appropriate statistical standards.

To achieve this goal, a comprehensive gatekeeper document called ‘Conditions of Use’ has been developed after obtaining the accord of all data source originators. This document, which must be formally ‘agreed’ to by the user before access to the SAPP data on the AURIN Portal is granted, contains each jurisdiction’s required warnings, caveats, guides to interpretation, information on the projection process and links to each state and ACT websites that contain more up-to-date population projections.

The time consuming production of this document, and agreement by AURIN to its important role in controlling access to the data, was a significant factor in getting all states and the ACT to agree to provide their data for inclusion in the national small area population projections database.

Project Outputs

  • Vision-scoping document and project factsheet completed
  • Specification of dataset formats compatible with AURIN’s requirements
  • Completion of data agreements between AURIN and each state and territory (go/no-go decision point)
  • Completion of data gathering. Commencement of metadata restructuring and editing
  • Generic tool library specification completed: tools to include tabulation, spatial aggregation, age group aggregation and visualisation (population by age and sex pyramid)
  • Interim testing of generic tool library completed and accepted by AURIN team
  • Final metadata agreeable to States entered into AURIN metadata tool
  • Generic tool library delivery to AURIN
  • All projection data delivered and testing of tools completed
  • Final report incorporating user manual and training tools completed and accepted by AURIN team

Project Team Overview

The Queensland Centre for Population Research (QCPR) undertakes pure and applied research and provides education and training in demography and population geography. The work of the Centre focuses especially on demographic change at the local and regional level, both within Australia and overseas and encompasses theory, methodology and empirical analysis.

Data Services and eResearch tool development of the Small Area Population Projections tools was undertaken by the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation (QCIF).  QCIF is a non-profit company owned jointly by six Queensland universities to provide high performance computing, large-scale data storage infrastructure and delivery of eResearch support services and tools.

Main Contact
QPCR Data Assembly
The University of Queensland
07 3346 7783
Tom WilsonTom Wilson
QCPR Project Leader
Wilfred Brimblecombe_webWilfred Brimblecombe
QCIF Project Manager
 Franz-B&WFranz Eilert
QCIF Project Manager

Project partners

UQ QCIF logo

Further Reading

Bell, M, Charles-Edwards, E, Wilson, T & Cooper, J 2010, ‘Demographic futures for South East Queensland’, Australian Planner, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 126-134.

Wilson, T 2011, ‘Modelling with NEWDSS: Producing state, regional and local area population projections for New South Wales’, in Population Dynamics and Projection Methods, Eds J Stillwell & M Clarke, Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 61-97. (Relevant to small area demographic modelling and the validation of projection outputs).