Oh, Baby! Gympie suburb emerges as nappy valley
KILKIVAN has emerged as the Gympie LGA's most fertile suburb, bucking a trend which has mostly seen fertility rates fall across the region since 2011.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed Kilkivan's total fertility rate had climbed to 2.65 average babies per woman in 2017, up almost 5% per cent from 2.53 in 2016 and more than 17% per cent from 2.26 in 2012.
The next highest local total fertility rate for 2017 was the Gympie Region - encompassing rural outskirts excluding the Cooloola Coast and Kilkivan - with 2.11 babies per woman, a slight increase on 2.10 the year before.
GYMPIE FERTILITY RATES - 2017
Estimated Population: 6,412 Total births: 40 TFR: 1.94
Estimated Population: 14,700 Total births: 181 TFR: 2.01
Esimated Population: 6,814 Total births: 70 TFR: 2.10
Estimated Population: 19,310 Total births: 188 TFR: 2.11
Estimated Population: 3,753 Total births: 40 TFR: 2.65
Estimated Population: 50,989 Total births: 519 TFR: 2.09
HOW WE COMPARE
Gympie LGA - 2.10 TFR
Sunshine Coast - 1.77 TFR
Fraser Coast - 2.04 TFR
Gold Coast - 1.67 TFR
Noosa - 1.66 TFR
Brisbane - 1.51 TFR
Queensland - 1.82 TFR
South Burnett - 2.38 TFR
North Burnett - 1.88 TFR
Yarrabah (#1 QLD) - 4.26 TFR
Gympie South, covering the likes of Southside and Jones Hill, came next with a 2.10 fertility rate, followed by Gympie North with 2.01 and Cooloola with 1.94.
The Gympie LGA posted in the lower half of the state-wide baby-making stats with a rate of 2.10 from 522 total births in 2017, but finished far above the Sunshine Coast (1.77) and the Queensland average of 1.82.
The seven-year span has seen Gympie's TFR steadily decline, dropping more than 13 per cent from the high point of 2.42 in 2011.
Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service public health physician Dr Andrew Langley said the fertility drought was not uncommon.
"The fertility rate is the number of babies a typical female would bear in a lifetime if she experienced current fertility rates at each age of her life,” Dr Langley said.
"The fertility rate in many countries has fallen. In Australia in 2017, the fertility rate was 1.74 babies per woman. This compares with a peak in 1961 when women on average had twice as many babies (at) 3.5 babies per woman.
"The fertility rate in Gympie has also fallen, but was and is still higher than Australia's.”
Dr Langley said availability of contraceptives and more women in the workforce are "thought to have led to lower fertility rates”.
"The fertility rates from the (ABS) for a given year for small areas are actually an average of a few years,” he said.
"This means the fertility rate published for '2017' for Gympie is the average of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 fertility rates for Gympie.
"This was 2.10 babies per woman. From 2011 to 2017, there were between 487 in 2015 and 566 in 2012 births per year for Gympie women.”