Strathfield Population Data

Statistics on local population and housing have been collected since Strathfield Council was incorporated in 1885.  The Municipalities Act of 1867 required a minimum population to establish a local government authority (Council).

Prior to 1901, population counts were taken by the State (or Colonial) Government of NSW.   The following historic populations were reported on the 1891 Census:

1891 1881 1871 1861
Strathfield 1820 1150 225 60
Enfield 2050 950 429 309
Homebush 472 190 50 40

Jones in ‘Oasis in the West’ (1985: p118) provides a summary of Strathfield’s population in 1891 with comparisons to the results of the 1981 Census:

“The 1891 Census affirms that Strathfield was an exciting young area in its golden age. Seventeen per cent of the total population of 1820 were five years or under, the same as the average for the metropolis. In 1981, only 7 per cent of the Strathfield population was aged five or under. Many families apparently moved to Strathfield for more space for their growing families. The birthrate averaged about six children per family and declined only around the turn of the century. A very high 41 per cent of the Strathfield population in 1891 were eighteen years or under, far higher than the 32 per cent of 1981. Another 26 per cent in 1891 were aged between nineteen and thirty, making a total of 67 per cent of the population aged thirty or under. There were few aged in 1891 in Strathfield: 7 per cent were fifty-five and over and 3 per cent sixty-five and over. If we take the current pension age of sixty for women and sixty-five for men, there were only fifty-one women aged sixty or over in 1891, or 5.1 per cent of the female population, compared with 23.1 per cent in 1981. The twenty-three men of pension age in 1891 comprised only 2.8 per cent of the population, compared with 11.7 per cent in 1981.”

The Commonwealth Census of Population and Housing is considered the most authoritative measurement of population and housing trends in Australia.  The authority for the Census is derived from the Australian Constitution, enacted on 1 January 2001, at Federation.  The new Australian Constitution gave Federal Parliament powers to ‘make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to (among other things) Census and Statistics’.  The first Census and Statistics Act was enacted in 1905 providing that ‘the Census shall be taken in the year 1911, and in every tenth year thereafter’.

The first nationally coordinated census of Australia was taken on the night of April 2, 1911. Further censuses were held in 1921 and 1933.  The scheduled census for 1941 was postponed due to World War II.  The next Census was taken in 1947. Since 1961, a Census has been held every five years and from 1971, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were included in the official population count.

The final NSW Census was held in 1901.  The Commonwealth Census was held in 1911, 1921, 1933, 1947, 1954, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 and 2016.

Strathfield Historic Populations

Table 1: Strathfield Local Government Area (LGA) population 1885-2016

* Note that population of Strathfield Local Government Area includes from 1947, the former Homebush Municipality and after 1949, the west ward of the former Enfield Council.

Strathfield Population NSW Population
1885 550
1891 1,820
1901 2,991 1,354,846
1911 5,652 1,946734
1921 11,519 2,100,371
1933 19,327 2,600,847
1947 23,910 2,984,838
1954 25,829 3,418,617
1961 26,429 3,917,013
1966 26,704 4,233,822
1976 27,150 4,725,503
1981 25,829 5,234,889
1986 25,636 5,531,526
1996 26,044 6,204,728
2001 27,777 6,311,168
2006 31,983 6,549,177
2011¤ 37,141
2016 42,331¤

Sources:  Strathfield 1885 (NSW Government Gazette 1885), Strathfield 1891 (Census of the British Empire); Strathfield 1901 (Census NSW Government), Strathfield 1911, 1921, 1923, 1947 (includes former Municipality of Homebush), 1954 (includes west ward of former Enfield Municipality), 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1996, 2001, 2001 and 2016 (Commonwealth Census).  NSW Population statistics from 1901 (Census NSW), 1911, 1921, 1923, 1947, 1954, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 (Commonwealth Census). 


Population Growth

The Strathfield Local Government Area has experienced rapid growth in population during different periods of its history.  From 1911 to 1921, the population of Strathfield rose by 100%, in contrast to the Sydney region increase of 42.8% over the same period (note this figure includes parts of Homebush and Enfield which are now part of Strathfield Local Government Area).

From 1921 to 1933, an increase of 67.8% occurred in Strathfield in contrast to the Sydney region increase of 37.4%.  From the 1920s, there was considerable subdivision in Strathfield, some involving subdivision of large homes and gardens, other involving subdivision of vacant land which had not been developed, especially on the southern and western sections of the Strathfield Local Government Area.  The subdivision of developed estates was mainly in central Strathfield and parts of Homebush north of the railway.

In the Post War period, 1947 to 1954, population growth slowed.  It grew at 8.1% against the Sydney region average of 20.9% as land become less available.  From 1954 to 1961, growth fell to 0.3% against the Sydney region increase of 17.2%.  By the 1950s, most available land was fully developed within the permissible zonings.  In 1920, Council approved the Residential District Proclamation.  The proclamation prohibited building of higher density dwellings such as flats and apartments in most of Strathfield.  Similar patterns of development occurred in nearby Council areas of Burwood and Concord which also experienced falls in population during these periods.

Between the 1954 and 1996 Census, the population of Strathfield remained stable measuring around 26,000 to 27,000 people.  The stable population was due to the unavailability of vacant land for development and until 1969, the prohibition on building higher density dwellings eg units.   After the adoption of the Strathfield Planning Scheme Ordinance in 1969, there was considerable building activity around town centres of ‘walkup’ flats, usually up to 3 stories in height, near town centres of Strathfield, Homebush and Homebush West.  Between 1969 and 1971, the number of units in Strathfield LGA increased by 100%, however the overall population did not increase due to declines in household sizes.

Table 2: Strathfield Local Government Area (LGA) Population Growth from 1901 to 2006 

Dates Strathfield Council Enfield Council* Homebush Council*
1901-1911 36% 38%
1911-1921 88% 148% 140%
1921-1933 60% 73% 97%
1933-1947 30% 17% 9.7%
1954-1961 1%
1961-1971 2.8%
1971-1981 – 4.7%
1981-2001 7.82%
2001-2006 15.14%
2006-2011 12.7%

In the Strathfield Local Government Area, population has been increasing since the late 1990s. Increases in population measured in the Census periods of 1996 to 2001 and 2001 to 2006 are attributable to the unprecedented increase of number of dwellings of 18.21% against the Sydney region average of 6.11% in the same period.

In the period, 2006-2011, the population of the Strathfield LGA increased by 12.7%.  

* Note Homebush Council amalgamated with Strathfield Council in 1947 and west ward of Enfield Council amalgamated with Strathfield Council in 1949.

Written by Cathy Jones 2009, updated 2013, 2017

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