Newly released Census data highlights the rapid densification of Melbourne’s CBD where the number of residents per square kilometre has more than doubled over the past decade.
The 2016 Census has revealed the most densely populated SA2 region in Australia is now Melbourne, with the 2.4 square kilometre region home to 37,754 residents, equating to 15,754 residents per square kilometre. While Melbourne has taken out the highest ranking for population density, eight of the top ten regions are located around Sydney’s inner city.
A decade ago there were less than half the number of residents in Melbourne’s CBD region and the area ranked 17th for population density nationally. A deeper dive into the Census statistics shows that the residents of Melbourne are generally young, with a median age of just 26 (compared with the national average of 38), 67% are attending university or a technical/tertiary educational institution (national average is 22%) and more than a third (38.5%) have a Chinese ancestry. Additionally, 77% of Melbourne CBD residents have both parents born overseas. The profile points to a large proportion of the population who are overseas students who are utilising inner city accommodation while they complete their studies. 70% of the dwellings in the region are rented and 65% of the dwellings are occupied by non-family households (either people living alone or in a group household). Interestingly, for such a high population density, the average household size is only 2 people, substantially smaller than the national average of 2.6 persons per household.
With a substantial amount of high rise unit construction still underway across the inner precincts of Melbourne, the population density is set to rise further from here.
Outside of the capital cities, the highest population densities can be found in either popular coastal markets or within key precincts of satellite cities such as Wollongong, Geelong and Newcastle. Even though Surfers Paradise was the most densely populated regional location, it is 95th on the national ranking. Four of the top five most densely populated areas of regional Australia were located within coastal SA2 regions of the Gold Coast.
80% of Surfers Paradise dwellings are described as flats or apartments, with 56% of all dwellings rented. On Census night, 26% of dwellings were unoccupied, highlighting the large proportion of holiday homes and short term accommodation options in the area.
At the other end of the density spectrum is the SA2 region of ‘Western’, located in South Australia and covering 169,000 square kilometres. The region is home to just 79 residents according to the Census providing for a population density of just 0.0005 residents per square kilometre.