• Daniel Hooper

Brisbane is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia

Article written by Michael Yardney ( -

Every year around this time the ABS releases population estimates (ERP) for small areas.

This year the data has been somewhat lost in the coronavirus madness.

Despite the seriousness of that situation, there is still a wealth of interesting population data.

This blog will look at spatial patterns of population change in Brisbane, which recorded a growth rate of 2.1% in 2018-19.

This makes Brisbane the second fastest growing state capital city behind Melbourne (2.5% growth rate).

Brisbane population trends

At June 30 2019, the population of Greater Brisbane was 2.51 million, an increase of 52,590 persons on the 2018 figure.

This equates to a growth rate of 2.1%.

Greater Brisbane’s growth rate has been above 2% since 2016-17, but the volume of growth recorded in 2018-19 was the highest for ten years.

Components of change data for Greater Brisbane indicates that a slightly higher level of net overseas migration explained some of the increase in 2018-19.

The chart below shows the volume of population growth in Greater Brisbane since 2001-02.

Which Brisbane suburbs are growing rapidly?

In common with other Australian cities, rapidly growing areas in Brisbane are found on the urban fringe and in parts of the inner city.

The map below shows the population growth rate in 2018-19 for SA2s in Greater Brisbane.

SA2s in Greater Brisbane are a better spatial unit for analysis than LGAs due to the very large size of some councils, and they also tend to be a better match to suburb boundaries.

The fastest growing SA2s tended to be located on the southern and western outskirts of Brisbane and Ipswich.  Many of these SA2s grew by more than 4% over 2018-19.

Ripley, a growth area to the south of Ipswich, recorded the highest growth rate in Greater Brisbane (26.6%).

Neighbouring Springfield Lakes also grew strongly (12.6%).

High levels of net internal migration gain ie more people moving in from other parts of Australia, drove population growth in these areas.

This is not surprising as new suburbs attract people, particularly young families, to live in these areas.

Many of these SA2s are likely to record strong growth into the future as Brisbane’s urban area continues to expand into former rural and semi-rural areas.

Interestingly, the northern part of the Gold Coast is also growing rapidly, such that the boundary between Brisbane and the Gold Coast is becoming increasingly blurred.

Urban development is now almost contiguous along the Pacific Motorway.

Elsewhere, there was a cluster of rapidly growing SA2s surrounding the CBD.

Like other Australian cities, many former industrial areas in inner Brisbane are slowly being redeveloped into residential areas.

These typically consist of high-rise apartments suitable for smaller households.

Newstead – Bowen Hills recorded the highest growth rate of these inner Brisbane SA2s in 2018-19 (8.5%).

Some parts of Brisbane are losing population

Despite strong growth overall in Greater Brisbane, there were more than twenty SA2s that recorded population decline in 2018-19.

The scale of these declines tended to be small, and the SA2s were scattered across the metropolitan area.

However there was a cluster located in more established parts of Ipswich and Brisbane’s outer west.

Wacol, a largely industrial suburb, recorded population decline of -2.2% in 2018-19, equating to a loss of 139 people.

Internal migration loss ie more people moving out to other parts of Australia, coupled with low levels of natural increase and net overseas migration, are driving population change in these SA2s.


Brisbane was Australia’s second fastest growing state capital city in 2018-19, recording a growth rate of 2.1%.

The volume of growth was 52,590, the highest level since 2008-09.

Brisbane’s fastest growing areas were generally found on the western and southern outskirts, as well as SA2s surrounding the CBD.

The SA2 of Ripley recorded the highest growth rate in 2018-19 (26.6%).

There were a number of SA2s across metropolitan Brisbane that recorded population decline in 2018-19, most notably the outer western SA2 of Wacol (-2.2%).

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