For the first time, the 2021 Census asked about current and former service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). This new data will assist in the development of policy and planning, including determining the most beneficial locations across Australia to offer services to veterans.
The 2021 Census found more than half a million Australians (581,139) have served, or are currently serving, in the ADF. There are 84,865 current serving members and 496,276 former serving members. Less than one in seven (13.4 per cent) of Australia’s former serving members are female, although the proportion is a bit higher at over one in five (20.6 per cent) for current serving members.
Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “The ADF data in the 2021 Census will help the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Defence and community groups to provide the services needed by current and former serving members”.
The Census data shows that more than one quarter of former serving members (26.1 per cent) are 65-74 years of age. This group of nearly 130,000 Australians (129,437) are mainly males (90 per cent) and represents the cohort resulting from the scheme of selective conscription in Australia under the National Service Act 1964. The largest demographic group of current serving members are aged between 25-29 years (17.2 per cent).
One in twenty (5.3 per cent) of Australian households reported at least one person who have served or are serving in the ADF. With the largest Australian Army base, it is not surprising that Townsville (QLD) is the region with the highest number of current serving ADF members (5,500) and forming serving members (8,700).