Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Current evidence of ‘female flight’ from remote Northern Territory Aboriginal communities – demographic and policy implications

Andrew Taylor


A small body of research has demonstrated the dramatic social, settlement and demographic effects of Indigenous ‘female flight’ from remote communities in Alaska, Canada, and the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas of Europe. In the Northern Territory of Australia, remote Indigenous settlement patterns are highly similar to these areas but neither research nor policy have had anything to say about whether female flight has or might also impact there. This paper applies quantitative tests to thirty years of Census data to look for evidence of precursors in the Northern Territory and discusses the demographic and policy implications in light of the findings.


Indigenous migration; female flight; rural to urban migration; Northern Territory Aboriginal communities

Full Text:



ABS (1990). Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. Darwin: NT Government Printer.

ABS (2004). Experimental Projections of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Australians, ATSIC regions, 2001 to 2009. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

ABS (2006). Census of Population and Housing - Details of Undercount. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Agesa, J. and Agesa, R. (1999). Gender differences in the incidence of rural to urban migration: Evidence from Kenya. Journal of Development Studies, 35(6): 36-58.

Bjarnason, T. and Thorlindsson, T. (2006). Should I stay or should I go? Migration expectations among youth in Icelandic fishing and farming communities. Journal of Rural Studies, 22(3): 290-300.

Brockerhoff, M. and Eu, H. (1993). Demographic and socioeconomic determinants of female rural to urban migration in Sub-Saharan Africa. International Migration Review, 27(3): 557-577.

Carson, D. and Taylor, A. (2009). Understanding rural-to-urban migration within Australia’s Northern Territory. Paper to the IUSSP 26th International Population Conference, Marrakech, 27 September to 2 October 2009.

Hamilton, L. and Seyfrit, C. (1994). Coming out of the country: community size and gender balance among Alaskan natives. Arctic Anthropology, 31(1): 16-25.

Hamilton, L. and Otterstad, O. (1998). Sex ratio and community size: Notes from the Northern Atlantic. Population and Environment, 20(1): 11-22.

Hamilton, L. (2008). Footprints: Demographic effects of outmigration. Accessed online 12 January 2010 from ~lch/ Hamil-ton_Outmigration_chapter.pdf

Henderson, P. (2009). A Working Future: Real Towns, Real Jobs, Real Opportunities. Media release 20 May 2009. Accessed online 10/8/2009 from http:// viewRelease&id=5584&d=5

Horvth, I. (2008). The culture of migration of rural Romanian youth. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 34(5): 771-786.

IOM (2008). Indigenous Routes: A Framework for Understanding Indigenous Migration. Geneva: International Organization for Migration.

Knapp, G. (2000). The population of the Circumpolar North. In: M. Nuttall and T. Callaghan (eds.) The Arctic: Environment, people, policy. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Limstrand, I., and Stemland, M. (2004). Focus on Jordland, Norway. In: Arctic Human Development Report, accessed online 30 March 2009 from

Ma, Z. (2001). Urban labour-force experience as a determinant of rural occupation change: evidence from recent urban - rural return migration in China. Environment and Planning, 33(2): 237-255.

Macklin, J. (2008). “Budget: Closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians’’. Accessed online 13 January 2010 from 2008-09/content/ ministerial_statements/ html/ index_indigenous.htm

Martin, S. (2009). The effects of female out migration on Alaska villages. Polar Geography, 32(1): 61-67.

Monsutti, A. (2007). Migration as a rite of passage: Young Afghans building masculinity and adulthood in Iran. Iranian Studies, 40(2): 167-185.

Murdoch, L. (2009). Death knell for homelands. The Age newspaper, 20 May 2009. Accessed online 10 August 2009 from nation-al/death-knell-for-homelands-20090518-bcqq.html?skin=text-only

Nelson, R. and MacKinnon, R. (2004). The peripheries of British Columbia: patterns of migration and economic structure, 1976 to 2002. Canadian Journal of Regional Science, 2(3): 353-394.

Pedraza, S. (1991). Women and Migration: the social consequences of gender. Annual Review of Sociology, 17: 303-325.

Petersen, N. (2004). Myth of the Walkabout – movement in the Aboriginal domain. In: J. Taylor and M. Bell (eds), Population Mobility and Indigenous Peoples in Aus-tralasia and Northern America. Routledge: London, 223-238.

Petrov, A. (2007). Revising the Harris-Todaro framework to model labour migration from the Canadian northern frontier. Journal of Population Research, 24(2): 185-206.

Prout, S. (2008). On the move? Indigenous temporary mobility practices in Australia, Centre for Indigenous Economic Policy Research, Working Paper 48. Canberra: CAEPR.

Rasmussen, R. (2007). Polar women go south. Journal of Nordregio, 7(4): 20-22.

Ross, K. (1999). Population issues, Indigenous Australians, 1996, ABS Occasional Paper, Cat. No. 4708.0, Canberra: ABS.

Rothwell, N. (2009). The failed state. The Australian, 24 October 2009. Accessed online 11 March 2010 from

Taylor, A. and Carson, D. (2009). Indigenous mobility and the Northern Territory Emergency Response. People and Place, 17(1): 15-24.

Taylor, J. and Bell, M. (1999). Changing places: Indigenous population movement in the 1990s, CAEPR Discussion Paper No. 189, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, The Australian National University, Canberra: Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

Taylor, J. (2003). Indigenous economic futures in the Northern Territory: The demographic and socioeconomic background, CAEPR Discussion Paper No. 246, Canberra: CAEPR.

Williamson, K., et al. (2004). Gender Issues. In: Arctic Human Development Report, accessed online 30 March 2009 from AHDR/AHDR%20chapters/English%20version/Chapters%20PDF.htm

Wilson, T., Condon, J. and Barnes, T. (2007). Northern Territory Indigenous Life Expectancy Improvements, 1967–2004. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 31(2): 184–8.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Transnational Press London

Copyright © 2003-2016 Migration Letters / Transnational Press London | All rights reserved | Contact Us