Pandemic-weary Melburnians are fleeing the city in droves as a result of successive lockdowns, new research has found.
Coronavirus has shattered usual growth trends and international and domestic migration, Australia's first Population Statement confirms.
In 2020-21 the national will grow at its slowest rate since World War One, the report issued by the federal government's Centre for Population says.
With overseas migration effectively on hold, internal migration will be the main driver of changes to population distribution.
The number of people moving interstate is expected to fall 12 per cent in 2020-21 to the lowest rate on record.
Victoria is forecast to be exempt from that trend, with an estimated 12,000 expected to leave Melbourne in both 2020-21 and 2021-22.
That is 10 times more people migrating from the city than in the previous year, Minister for Population Alan Tudge says.
"The research also shows an extraordinary reversal in migration patterns is expected in Melbourne and Victoria as a result of the extended lockdown," he said in a statement.
"For the first time in over a decade, there is now evidence that people are leaving Victoria and Melbourne in particular."
The Population Statement notes the greater social and economic impacts felt by the state due to its second outbreak and resulting lockdown will drive the trend.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in November showed Victoria had an overall loss of people to other states in the three months to June for the first time since 2008. It was the state's biggest quarterly loss since 1996.
However Melbourne is still set to overtake Sydney as the country's largest city in 2026-27.
By 2030-31, the population is forecast to reach 6.2 million, as opposed to 6 million in Sydney.
ABS data shows thousands fled to Queensland, which has remained largely COVID-free, with the state seeing an overall gain of 6800 people in the June quarter - the biggest increase recorded nationally.
On a national level, the population is estimated to be around four per cent or 1.1 million people smaller than it would have been in the absence of COVID-19.
The ABS data for the June quarter also showed Australians moved from capital cities to the regions at record levels.
About 10,500 people resettled to regional areas in the three months to June - the largest overall move to the regions on record at a rate double the 10-year average.
Australian Associated Press