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Census of Population and Housing - Counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, including intercensal changes over time

Summary

This is the second release of the publication titled Census of Population and Housing Counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 2075.0). The first release took place in June 2012 and can be accessed via the ‘Previous releases' menu above.

The five-yearly Census of Population and Housing is the only comprehensive source of small area data about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. The Census provides a wide range of socioeconomic indicators to support planning, administration, policy development and evaluation in the public and private sectors.

This release presents counts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. Counts are disaggregated by a range of ABS and non-ABS geographical structures (as set out in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), to satisfy different statistical purposes. Geographical structures used in this publication include:

ASGS ABS structures

ASGS Non-ABS structures

  • Commonwealth Electoral Divisions (CEDs)
  • Local Government Areas (LGAs)
     

This release also presents intercensal changes dating back to the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. Future updates of this publication will provide additional analysis on the characteristic of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons enumerated in the 2016 Census.

Counts by state/territory and capital city/rest of state

In 2016, there were 649,171 people identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the Census. Of these people, 91% (590,056 people) were of Aboriginal origin only, 5% (32,345 people) were of Torres Strait Islander origin only and 4% (26,767 people) identified as being of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin. These proportions have changed very little in the last ten year period (see Data Cube 3, Table 3b). In the Northern Territory, just under 25% of the population identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the 2016 Census. In all other jurisdictions, 5% or less of the population were of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. Victoria had the lowest proportion at 0.8% of the state total.

When a response to the Indigenous status question in the Census was not provided, a response of 'not stated' is recorded. When these people are excluded from the total population, the proportion of those identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander increases slightly (between 0.1 and 0.3 percentage points) in all states and territories, with the exception of the Northern Territory which increases by 2.8 percentage points (see Data downloads, Table 3a).

Census counts(a) by Indigenous status - state/territory, 2016

 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderNon-IndigenousNot statedTotalAboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
State/Territory
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
Count of Persons
Count of Persons
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
New South Wales
216 176
33.3
6 826 286
437 762
7 480 228
2.9
Victoria
47 788
7.4
5 532 275
346 563
5 926 624
0.8
Queensland
186 482
28.7
4 211 020
305 685
4 703 193
4.0
South Australia
34 184
5.3
1 557 001
85 464
1 676 653
2.0
Western Australia
75 978
11.7
2 237 541
160 891
2 474 410
3.1
Tasmania
23 572
3.6
455 137
31 255
509 965
4.6
Northern Territory
58 248
9.0
147 327
23 257
228 833
25.5
Australian Capital Territory
6 508
1.0
370 748
20 143
397 397
1.6
Total Australia(b)
649 171
100.0
21 341 231
1 411 491
23 401 892
2.8
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors. b. Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.

Note: Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals. For further information see Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
 

Capital cities and rest of state

In the 2016 Census, just over one-third (35%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population lived in Capital City areas. States with relatively high proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Capital Cities include South Australia (54%) and Victoria (50%). In contrast, 78% of the population who identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the Northern Territory lived outside the Capital City area. Likewise, in Queensland, 71% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population lived outside of the Capital City area.

Census counts(a) by Indigenous status - capital city and rest of state, 2016

 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderNon-IndigenousNot statedTotalProportion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Persons
Capital City/Rest of State
Count of Persons
Count of Persons
Count of Persons
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
New South Wales (NSW)     
Greater Sydney
70 135
4 493 490
260 364
4 823 991
32.4
Rest of State
145 189
2 322 911
175 436
2 643 536
67.2
No Usual Address
839
9 528
1 916
12 288
0.4
Total NSW
216 176
6 826 286
437 762
7 480 228
100
Victoria (Vic)     
Greater Melbourne
24 062
4 215 761
245 390
4 485 211
50.4
Rest of State
23 444
1 310 270
100 103
1 433 818
49.1
No Usual Address
279
6 219
1 069
7 565
0.6
Total Vic
47 788
5 532 275
346 563
5 926 624
100
Queensland (Qld)     
Greater Brisbane
54 158
2 093 128
123 517
2 270 800
29.0
Rest of State
131 520
2 107 878
180 324
2 419 724
70.5
No Usual Address
799
9 886
1 827
12 510
0.4
Total Qld
186 482
4 211 020
305 685
4 703 193
100
South Australia (SA)     
Greater Adelaide
18 403
1 216 624
60 689
1 295 714
53.8
Rest of State
15 530
338 096
24 445
378 074
45.4
No Usual Address
249
2 279
328
2 863
0.7
Total SA
34 184
1 557 001
85 464
1 676 653
100
Western Australia (WA)     
Greater Perth
31 214
1 801 031
111 612
1 943 858
41.1
Rest of State
44 169
431 657
48 341
524 167
58.1
No Usual Address
587
4 497
867
5 950
0.8
Total WA
75 978
2 237 541
160 891
2 474 410
100
Tasmania (Tas)     
Greater Hobart
8 534
201 462
12 351
222 356
36.2
Rest of State
14 983
252 850
18 791
286 627
63.6
No Usual Address
55
755
104
912
0.2
Total Tas
23 572
455 137
31 255
509 965
100
Northern Territory (NT)     
Greater Darwin
11 960
110 004
14 862
136 828
20.5
Rest of Territory
45 590
35 862
7 998
89 443
78.3
No Usual Address
696
1 402
387
2 489
1.2
Total NT
58 248
147 327
23 257
228 833
100
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)     
Australian Capital Territory
6 476
370 297
20 084
396 857
99.5
No Usual Address
33
454
62
538
0.5
Total ACT
6 508
370 748
20 143
397 397
100
Total Australia(b)
649 171
21 341 231
1 411 491
23 401 892
 
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, and Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.

Note: Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals. For further information see Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
 

Age profile

In the 2016 Census, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population had a younger age distribution than the non-Indigenous population, reflecting higher fertility and lower life expectancy - a trend consistent with 2011 Census results. In 2016, the median age (the age at which half the population is older and half the population is younger) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 23 years (up from 21 years in 2011), compared with 38 years for non-Indigenous people (up from 37 years in 2011). The Northern Territory had the highest median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in both 2011 and 2016 (23 years and 25 years respectively). In 2016, New South Wales and Queensland had the lowest median age (22 years). For 2011 age profiles, see Census of Population and Housing - Counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2011 (cat. no. 2075.0).

Nationally, just over one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people counted in the 2016 Census were under 15 years of age (34%), while 5% were aged 65 years and over. The age profile of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait population varied only slightly between the states and territories. Queensland had the highest proportion of children aged under 15 years (35%). Tasmania had the highest proportion of older persons aged 65 years and over (6%).

Census counts(a) - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by state/territory and age, 2016

 Total PersonsPersons aged 0-14 yearsPersons aged 15-64 yearsPersons aged 65 years and overMedian age
State/Territory
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
Proportion of Persons (%)
Proportion of Persons (%)
Years
New South Wales
216 176
34.4
60.3
5.4
22
Victoria
47 788
33.3
61.5
5.3
23
Queensland
186 482
35.4
60.2
4.4
22
South Australia
34 184
33.4
62.0
4.6
23
Western Australia
75 978
33.4
62.4
4.2
23
Tasmania
23 572
33.0
60.8
6.2
24
Northern Territory
58 248
30.0
66.2
3.8
25
Australian Capital Territory
6 508
31.2
65.5
3.1
23
Total Australia(b)
649 171
34.0
61.3
4.8
23
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, and Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.

Note: Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals. For further information see Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).

Counts by Indigenous Region

The Indigenous Structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) provides a geographical standard for the publication of statistics about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia. Indigenous Regions (IREGs) are the highest level of the Indigenous Structure. IREGs are divided into Indigenous Areas (IAREs) (the second level of the Indigenous Structure) and these are then divided into smaller units known as Indigenous Locations (ILOCs), the third and lowest level of the Indigenous Structure.

In the 2016 Census, over half (59%) of the people who identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin lived in 10 of the 58 Indigenous Regions. The three largest regions were located on the Eastern seaboard of Australia: Brisbane (70,734 people), NSW Central and North Coast (69,772 people) and Sydney - Wollongong (66,023 people). These three regions accounted for 32% (206,529 out of 649,171 people) of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander count for Australia.

Census counts(a) - Indigenous regions with the highest counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2016

Indigenous Region(b)
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
Brisbane
70 734
10.9
NSW Central and North Coast
69 772
10.7
Sydney - Wollongong
66 023
10.2
Perth
29 118
4.5
Townsville - Mackay
26 478
4.1
Riverina - Orange
24 975
3.8
Cairns - Atherton
24 465
3.8
Adelaide
24 297
3.7
Victoria (exc. Melbourne)
24 208
3.7
Tasmania
23 521
3.6
Total Australia(c)
649 171
2.8
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors. b. For information about Indigenous Regions, see the Indigenous Structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard. c. Includes all Indigenous Regions, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, No Usual Address and Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island.

Note: Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals. For further information see Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
 

Map of Indigenous Regions

Map of Australia showing Indigenous Region boundaries, including insets of islands including Norfolk Island, Torres Strait Islands, Lord Howe Island, Jervis Bay, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Map of Indigenous Regions

Map of Australia showing indigenous region boundaries presented by state and territory, including insets of islands including Norfolk Island, Torres Strait Islands, Lord Howe Island, Jervis Bay, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

State and territory Indigenous Region boundaries:

New South Wales
· Sydney - Wollongong
· Riverina – Orange
· Dubbo
· North-Western NSW
· NSW Central and North Coast
· North Eastern NSW
· South Eastern NSW

Victoria
· Melbourne
· Victoria exc. Melbourne

Queensland
· Brisbane
· Toowoomba – Roma
· Rockhampton
· Mount Isa
· Townsville – Mackay
· Cairns-Atherton
· Cape York
· Torres Strait

South Australia
· Adelaide
· Port Augusta
· Point Lincoln Ceduna

Western Australia
· Perth
· South Western WA
· Geraldton
· Kalgoorlie
· South Headland
· Broome
· West Kimberly
· Kununurra

Tasmania
· Tasmania

Northern Territory
· Darwin
· Alice Springs
· Katherine
· Jabiru Tiwi
· Nhulumby
· Tenant Creek
· Apatula

Australian Capital Territory
· ACT

Indigenous Regions outside of Australia's major population centres had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Of the Indigenous Regions with the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, all Regions except for Jervis Bay were located in Northern Australia (including the Torres Strait).

Census counts(a) - Indigenous regions with the highest proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2016

Indigenous Region(b)
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
Torres Strait
6 626
81.8
Jabiru - Tiwi
10 408
76.9
Apatula
8 699
76.8
Nhulunbuy
9 557
69.5
West Kimberley
4 959
64.4
Tennant Creek
3 505
63.3
Cape York
9 453
55.8
Jervis Bay
207
52.9
Katherine
8 471
47.1
Kununurra
4 761
45.7
Total Australia(c)
649 171
2.8
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors. b. For information about Indigenous Regions, see the Indigenous Structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard. c. Includes all Indigenous Regions, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, No Usual Address and Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island.

Note: Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals. For further information see Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
 

Indigenous areas

In the 2016 Census, the Indigenous Areas with the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were in the Northern Territory and Queensland. Cherbourg in Queensland had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (98%), followed by Laynhapuy - Gumatj Homelands in Eastern Arnhem Land and Yarrabah in Queensland (both 97%).

Census counts(a) - Indigenous areas with the highest proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2016

Indigenous Area(b)
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
Cherbourg
1 249
98.4
Laynhapuy - Gumatj Homelands
450
97.4
Yarrabah
2 491
97.3
Kulkalgal - Central Islands
946
95.6
Gapuwiyak and Outstations
941
94.3
Ramingining - Milingimbi and Outstations
2 180
94.2
Alice Springs Town Camps
964
94.2
Meriam - Eastern Islands
812
94.1
Marthakal Homelands - Galiwinku
2 315
94.1
Palm Island
2 298
93.9
Ngukurr
1 079
93.9
Total Australia(c)
649 171
2.8
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors. b. For information about Indigenous Areas, see the Indigenous Structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard. c. Includes all Indigenous Areas, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, No Usual Address and Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island.

Note: Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals. For further information see Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).

Counts by state/territory and Indigenous location

In the 2016 Census, 59,116 people identified as being of Torres Strait Islander origin (including people identified as being both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin). Of these, almost two-thirds (64%) lived in Queensland. All states, with the exception of South Australia, experienced a growth in the number of persons identifying as Torres Strait Islander. Western Australia experienced the greatest growth - up from 2,608 persons in 2011 to 3,055 in 2016, representing a 17% increase. As a proportion of total State/Territory populations, the distribution of people who identified as Torres Strait Islander has remained stable in all of the States/Territories except for the Northern Territory, where the proportion has increased from 1.0% to 1.1%.

Census counts(a) - Torres Strait Islander persons(b) by state/territory, 2011 and 2016

 20112016
State/Territory
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
Proportion of State/Territory (%)
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
Proportion of State/Territory (%)
New South Wales
8 011
15.2
0.1
8 923
15.1
0.1
Victoria
3 044
5.8
0.1
3 197
5.4
0.1
Queensland
32 929
62.6
0.8
37 540
63.5
0.8
South Australia
1 599
3.0
0.1
1 570
2.7
0.1
Western Australia
2 608
5.0
0.1
3 055
5.2
0.1
Tasmania
1 886
3.6
0.4
2 004
3.4
0.4
Northern Territory
2 206
4.2
1.0
2 441
4.1
1.1
Australian Capital Territory
326
0.6
0.1
365
0.6
0.1
Total Australia(c)
52 616
100.0
0.2
59 116
100.0
0.3
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Comprises people who are Torres Strait Islander and both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in origin.
c. Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.

Note: Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals. For further information see Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).


The Indigenous Regions with the largest count of people identifying as being of Torres Strait Islander origin were Cairns–Atherton (8,644 people or 15% of the Torres Strait Islander population), Brisbane (7,573 people or 13%) and Townsville–Mackay (7,122 people or 12%).

Census counts(a) - Indigenous regions with the highest counts of Torres Strait Islander persons(b), 2016

Indigenous Region(c)
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
Cairns - Atherton
8 644
14.6
Brisbane
7 573
12.8
Townsville - Mackay
7 122
12.0
Torres Strait
6 489
11.0
Cape York
3 692
6.2
NSW Central and North Coast
3 322
5.6
Sydney - Wollongong
2 993
5.1
Rockhampton
2 491
4.2
Tasmania
2 001
3.4
Melbourne
1 713
2.9
Total Australia(d)
59 116
100.0
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Comprises people who are Torres Strait Islander and both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in origin.
c. For information about Indigenous Regions, see the Indigenous Structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard.
d. Includes all Indigenous Regions, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, No Usual Address and Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island.

Note: Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals. For further information see Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).


In the Torres Strait Indigenous Region there were 6,489 people of Torres Strait Islander origin, representing 80% of the population for the region. Within this region, the Indigenous Locations with the largest populations of Torres Strait Islander people were Port Kennedy and TRAWQ (Tamoi, Rose Hill, Applin, Wyborn and Quarantine) (1,123 and 826 people respectively), followed by Badu Island (697 people) and Mer (Murray) Island (429 people). See Data Cube 13, Table 13b for further information.

The Indigenous Location of Manunda - Portsmith in Cairns had the largest number of Torres Strait Islander people (2,355 people), followed by Mackay (1,817 people) and Townsville (1,668 people). The 20 most populous Indigenous Locations for Torres Strait Islander people were all within Queensland.

Census counts(a) - Indigenous locations with the highest counts of Torres Strait Islander persons(b), 2016

Indigenous Location(c)
Count of Persons
Proportion of Persons (%)
Manunda - Portsmith
2 355
10.2
Mackay
1 817
2.2
Townsville
1 668
1.7
Thuringowa
1 613
2.2
Port Kennedy (Thursday Island)
1 123
56.9
Edmonton
1 082
6.0
Bamaga and Surrounds
933
78.5
TRAWQ (Thursday Island)
826
85.9
Gold Coast
795
0.1
Cairns – White Rock – Mt Sheridan
791
5.9
Total Australia(d)
59 116
0.3
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Comprises people who are Torres Strait Islander and both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in origin.
c. For information about Indigenous Locations, see the Indigenous Structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard.
d. Includes all Indigenous Locations, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, No Usual Address and Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island.
 
Note: Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals. For further information see Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).

Counts by remoteness area

In the 2016 Census, there were 649,171 people across Australia who identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin, the majority (81%) of whom lived in non-remote areas of Australia.

Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to be living in non-remote areas, they made up a greater proportion of the remote (25%) than non-remote (2%) population.

Indigenous status by remoteness area, 2016 (a)

 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderNon-Indigenous
Remoteness Area
Count of Persons (no.)
Proportion of Persons (%)
Count of Persons (no.)
Proportion of Persons (%)
Non-Remote
526 009
81.0
21 000 766
98.4
Remote
119 595
18.4
304 394
1.4
Total Australia (b)
649 171
100.0
21 341 231
100.0
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

Remoteness area by Indigenous status, 2016 (a)

 Non-remoteRemote
 
Count of Persons (no.)
Proportion of Persons (%)
Count of Persons (no.)
Proportion of Persons (%)
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
526 009
2.3
119 595
25.3
Non-Indigenous
21 000 766
91.8
304 394
64.3
Total Australia (b)(c)
22 882 169
100.0
473 356
100.0
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.
c. Includes Indigenous status Not Stated.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

Remoteness area

The Remoteness Area structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) provides a geographical standard for the publication of statistics about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia. This structure is produced by dividing each state and territory into five classes of remoteness based on relative access to services. The five classes of remoteness for each state and territory can be aggregated to produce non-remote and remote areas of Australia.

The five classes of remoteness are:

  • Major Cities of Australia
  • Inner Regional Australia
  • Outer Regional Australia
  • Remote Australia
  • Very Remote Australia
     

In general, regions become less remote when urban centres increase in size and when the road networks between regions improve. Between 2011 and 2016, Major Cities have expanded to encapsulate regions that were initially inner regional in 2011, with these areas containing just over 100,000 people in 2016. For example, Wallacia was part of inner regional New South Wales in 2011, however in 2016 Wallacia is one of the major cities in New South Wales.

Changes between censuses

Looking at the distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across remoteness areas in 2016 compared to 2011, we can see how people have moved between the areas. In 2016, there was an increase in people living in major cities and inner regional areas and an associated reduction in people living in outer regional and remote areas.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons by remoteness area, 2006-2016 (a)

 200620112016Difference between 2016 and 2011
Remoteness Area (b)
Proportion of Persons (%)
Per cent (%)
Major Cities of Australia
32.4
34.4
37.4
3.0
Inner Regional Australia
21.8
22.1
24.0
1.9
Outer Regional Australia
21.7
21.6
19.7
-1.9
Remote Australia
8.7
7.2
6.2
-1.0
Very Remote Australia
15.1
14.1
12.2
-1.9
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Excludes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

Over the last 10 years, the number of Australians identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander has increased by 43 per cent. Growth in major cities and inner regional areas (29% and 28% respectively) was higher than the growth in remote and very remote areas (1% and 2% respectively).

Intercensal change (%) by remoteness area, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2006-2016 (a)(b)

 
2006 to 2011
2011 to 2016
Remoteness Area
Intercensal Change (%)
Major Cities of Australia
28.0
28.6
Inner Regional Australia
22.1
28.3
Outer Regional Australia
20.1
7.9
Remote Australia
0.9
1.1
Very Remote Australia
12.7
2.4
Total Australia (c)
20.5
18.4
a. Intercensal change is calculated using the change in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over the Census periods.
b. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
c. Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

Remoteness

As seen above, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has shifted toward urban areas over the last ten years. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still more likely than other Australians to live outside of major cities.

In 2016, almost 4 in 10 (37%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities in 2016 compared to 72 per cent of other Australians. A further 24 per cent and 20 per cent lived in inner or outer regional areas respectively.

Almost 1 in 5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in remote (6%) and very remote (12%) areas while around 1 in 100 non-Indigenous Australians lived in these areas (1% and 0.4% respectively).

Indigenous status by remoteness area, 2016 (a)

 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderNon-Indigenous
Remoteness Area
Count of Persons (no.)
Proportion of Persons (%)
Count of Persons (no.)
Proportion of Persons (%)
Major Cities of Australia
242 529
37.4
15 495 768
72.6
Inner Regional Australia
155 602
24.0
3 809 569
17.9
Outer Regional Australia
127 874
19.7
1 695 430
7.9
Remote Australia
40 210
6.2
211 269
1.0
Very Remote Australia
79 383
12.2
93 127
0.4
Total Australia (b)
649 171
100.0
21 341 231
100.0
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

States and territories

Across most states and territories, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population were less likely to live in major cities and inner regional areas than other Australians and more likely to live in remote or very remote areas.

In New South Wales and Queensland, where most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live, most people lived in major cities or regional areas. However, the remote and very remote population for both states was larger for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than other Australians (3% for New South Wales and 17% for Queensland).

More than half (58%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of the Northern Territory lived in very remote areas compared to 6 per cent of the non-Indigenous population.

While a quarter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Western Australia lived in very remote areas, most (40%) lived in major cities. In contrast, 80 per cent of the non-Indigenous population lived in major cities and 2 per cent lived in very remote areas.

Remoteness Area (b)Major Cities of AustraliaInner Regional AustraliaOuter Regional AustraliaRemote AustraliaVery Remote Australia
 
ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER
 
Proportion of Persons (%)
New South Wales
46.4
34.5
15.3
2.6
0.9
Victoria
51.8
34.9
12.6
0.1
. .
Queensland
33.8
22.2
26.5
5.9
11.1
South Australia
51.9
10.7
22.0
3.8
10.8
Western Australia
39.8
7.7
13.7
12.7
25.3
Tasmania
. .
56.2
40.7
2.1
0.8
Northern Territory
. .
. .
20.5
20.7
57.5
Australian Capital Territory
99.3
0.2
. .
. .
. .
Total Australia (b)
37.4
24.0
19.7
6.2
12.2
 
NON-INDIGENOUS
 
Proportion of Persons (%)
New South Wales
75.9
18.3
5.3
0.3
0.0
Victoria
77.4
18.5
3.9
0.1
. .
Queensland
64.7
19.8
13.3
1.2
0.7
South Australia
74.2
12.8
9.9
2.5
0.5
Western Australia
79.4
8.7
7.0
2.9
1.7
Tasmania
. .
68.3
29.6
1.4
0.5
Northern Territory
. .
. .
74.7
18.2
6.1
Australian Capital Territory
99.7
0.2
. .
. .
. .
Total Australia (b)
72.6
17.9
7.9
1.0
0.4
a. Usual residence, excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, Migratory-Offshore-Shipping, and No Usual Address.
. . Not Applicable

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016

Data downloads

Table 01: Census counts and intercensal change, Indigenous status, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016

Table 02: Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in local government areas, 2016

05/12/2018 - The datacube containing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Census Counts by Local Government Area (LGA) has been updated to reflect minor boundary changes to five LGAs in Queensland and New South Wales.

Table 03: 2016 Census counts by state and territory, by Indigenous status 2016

Table 04: Census counts by Indigenous region, 2011 and 2016

Table 05: Census counts, Indigenous regions - New South Wales, 2016

Table 06: Census counts, Indigenous regions - Victoria, 2016

Table 07: Census counts, Indigenous regions - Queensland, 2016

Table 08: Census counts, Indigenous regions - South Australia, 2016

Table 09: Census counts, Indigenous regions - Western Australia, 2016

Table 10: Census counts, Indigenous regions - Tasmania, 2016

Table 11: Census counts, Indigenous regions - Northern Territory, 2016

Table 12: Census counts, Indigenous regions - Australian Capital Territory, 2016

Table 13: Census counts of Torres Strait Islander persons, 2006, 2011 and 2016

Table 14: Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in commonwealth electoral divisions, 2016

Table 15: Census counts by Indigenous status - section of state 2016

12/01/2018 - This new datacube provides population counts and proportions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people broken down by state and section of state (urban and non-urban areas). A non-Indigenous comparison is also provided as well as data for the entire Australian population.

Table 16: Census counts by Indigenous status, remoteness, 2016

03/04/2018 - This new datacube provides population counts and proportions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people broken down by remoteness regions. A non-Indigenous comparison is also provided as well as data for the entire Australian population.

Table 17: Census counts by SEIFA index of advantage and disadvantage - state and territory and remoteness 2016

04/12/2018 - This new datacube provides population counts and proportions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by the SEIFA Index of Advantage and Disadvantage, broken down by Remoteness areas and State and Territory.

History of changes

Show all

05/12/2018 - The datacube containing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Census Counts by Local Government Area (LGA) was updated to reflect minor boundary changes to five LGAs in Queensland and New South Wales.

04/12/2018 - Publication was updated with an additional datacube providing population counts and proportions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by the SEIFA Index of Advantage and Disadvantage, broken down by Remoteness areas and State and Territory.

29/08/2018 - The feature article for remoteness was updated to correct the figures for the proportion of non-Indigenous Australians in the Major Cities of Victoria and for the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in non-remote areas

03/04/2018 - Publication was updated with an additional datacube and feature article containing information on remoteness.

12/01/2018 - Publication was updated with an additional datacube containing information on section of state.