Queensland’s population is dispersed over a large area and has the higher percentage of its population living outside the greater capital city area than most Australian states and territories.1 Despite this geographic dispersion, in 2021 almost three-quarters of Queensland’s population lived in the southeast of the state.2,3
Age is one factor related to the amount and type of health conditions that are expected at an individual and population level. Understanding an area’s age distribution provides valuable information about the types of health services needed now and into the future.
In addition to informing anticipated health conditions and risk factors, population distributions also influence other characteristics in an area such as economic growth, patterns of work and retirement, the way in which families function, and the ability of governments and communities to provide adequate resources.
Figure 1: Queensland estimated resident population, 2021
The population of Queensland has steadily increased over the past two decades and is projected to be almost 6.7 million by 2036, an increase of 29%.
From 2002 to 2020:
- The largest historical increases occurred in Hospital and Health Service (HHS) populations in South East Queensland (32% in West Moreton HHS, 25% in Gold Coast HHS and 24% in Sunshine Coast HHS)
- Population decline occurred in western regions of Queensland (decreases of 17% in Central West HHS, 13% in North West HHS and 9% in South West HHS).
Figure 2: Queensland population by HHS and age
The age composition of HHSs varies across Queensland.
- The populations of Torres and Cape HHS, North West HHS and West Moreton HHS had the highest percentages of children 0 to 14 years (28%, 25% and 23%, respectively).
- The HHS populations with the highest percentage of 65 years and older were Wide Bay HHS (27%), Sunshine Coast HHS (22%) and the Darling Downs HHS (20%).
- The percentage of the population 65 years and older increased in all HHS regions, with the highest increases in Torres and Cape HHS (87%), Cairns and Hinterland HHS (59%) and West Moreton HHS (59%).
Figure 3: Population characteristics of Queensland regions, 2020
First Nations peoples population
A long history ties Australian First Nations peoples to specific lands and areas and these connections are reflected in a First Nations regional geography.4 While these connections are acknowledged, this section reports information by HHS regions for consistency and comparability with other sections.
- In 2021, the age distribution of the First Nations peoples of Queensland is younger, with 34.0% under the 15 years compared with 18.1% for other Queenslanders, and 5.2% 65 years and older compared with 17.2% for other Queenslanders.
- The HHS regions with the highest proportion of First Nations peoples are Torres and Cape HHS (68.8%) and North West HHS (30.8%).
Figure 4: Queensland First Nations peoples population by HHS and age
Strategies and information
The Queensland Government Statistician’s Office publishes regional profiles for Queensland. See Queensland Regional Profiles for further information.
Section technical notes
Data in this section were sourced from the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office with some additional processing by the Queensland Department of Health. See Statistics | Queensland Government Statistician's Office, Queensland Treasury (qgso.qld.gov.au) and Statistical Services Branch for further information.
Population data on this page is based on estimated resident populations (ERPs) provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The 2021 ERPs are based on adjusted 2021 Australian Census counts, updated with estimates of births, deaths and migration. The 2020 ERPs were processed by QGSO and Queensland Health to provide historical estimates and projections of regional Queensland populations. See Aussies count – working out the official population figures and National, state and territory population methodology for further information.
- Queensland Government Statistician’s Office. Queensland compared with other jurisdictions, Census 2021. Accessed: 3 March 2023.
- Council of Mayors (SEQ). 2023. Annual Report 2021-22. Accessed: 3 March 2023.
- Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, Population estimates – Regions. Accessed: 3 March 2023.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Jul 2021-Jun 2026. Indigenous Regions. Accessed: 3 March 2023.