The statistical information on this site may not be the latest. For the most up to date information visit the ABS website abs.gov.au

Latest release

Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counts

This publication examines the increase in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the 2016 Census

Reference period
2016

Summary of key findings

Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia increased by 18.4% (100,803 people).

Large increases in the counts of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people have been observed over various periods since 1971. Particularly-large increases occurred between the 1991 and 1996 Censuses (33.0%) and the 2006 and 2011 Censuses (20.5%). Factors contributing to these intercensal increases were explored in Occasional Paper: Population Issues, Indigenous Australians, 1996 (cat. no. 4708.0) and in the previous release of this publication after the 2011 Census.

Growth in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 1971-2016(a)

Download
  1. Usual residence Census Counts. Includes Other Territories from 1996 onwards. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In 1986, Indigenous status was reported as 'Aboriginal origin'.  Between 1971 and 1981, Indigenous status was reported as 'Racial origin'.  
  3. The Standard Indigenous Question was introduced in 1996.
  4. In 2016, Other Territories includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1971-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census Counts. Includes Other Territories from 1996 onwards. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In 1986, Indigenous status was reported as 'Aboriginal origin'.  Between 1971 and 1981, Indigenous status was reported as 'Racial origin'.
  3. The Standard Indigenous Question was introduced in 1996.
  4. In 2016, Other Territories includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1971-2016

The purpose of this publication is to discuss factors contributing to the increase in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people observed between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses and their implications for interpreting and understanding Census data. This analysis is important because increases such as these have an impact on other statistics, such as population measures and/or performance indicators used for government reporting.

This analysis explores the components of the increase by breaking it down into its demographically-explainable and unexplainable components. Components including births and deaths, migration, a person’s propensity to identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person, and Census enumeration and response are all taken into account to help define and understand the intercensal increase.

Components of the Increase in Census Counts 2006 to 2016

Components of the Increase in Census Counts 2006 to 2016

Components of the Increase in Census Counts 2006 to 2016

Between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, there was a 20.5% increase in the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (equivalent to 93,340 people). 70.2% of the 2006 to 2011 increase was change explained by demographic factors (births, deaths and migration). The remaining 29.8% was change not explained by demographic factors.

Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, there was an 18.4% increase in the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (equivalent to 100,803 people). 78.6% of the 2011 to 2016 increase was change explained by demographic factors (births, deaths and migration). The remaining 21.4% was change not explained by demographic factors.

The chapter Overview of the Increase examines how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population changed during the intercensal period. It shows that births between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses (0-4 year olds) are driving the majority of the intercensal increase (72.7%). The intercensal growth in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 2011 and 2016 is not consistent across the country, with growth primarily occurring in Major cities and on the eastern coast of Australia. Population growth is significantly higher in Non-Remote areas (22.8%) than in Remote areas (2.0%).

The chapter Change Explained by Demographic Factors quantifies how much of the 100,803 increase in the Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016 can be explained by demographic factors. It finds that most (78.6%) of the increase can be accounted for by explainable demographic factors of population change – births, deaths and migration.

The remaining 21.4% of the increase cannot be explained by typical factors of population change and equates to 3.3% of the total 2016 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Change Not Explained by Demographic Factors). This increase did not occur consistently across the country and was primarily focused in Major Cities and Inner Regional areas, particularly in New South Wales.

Factors of unexplainable change in Census counts include: coverage, response rates and a changing propensity to identify. Analysis in this chapter shows that while the overall increase in Census counts is predominately composed of intercensal births (72.7%), other young children (5-14 year olds) were also a significant contributor (14.7%).

The chapter Changing Propensity to Identify examines peoples’ changing propensity to identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. It finds that there is a relationship between changes in parental identification and changes in the identification of children. Children of couples where both parents are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin – or children in lone parent families with an identifying parent – are more likely to be identified than children of couples where one person is of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin and the other is non-Indigenous.

The final chapter of this publication Impact of Intercensal Change on Selected Characteristics explores differences in the measures of socio-economic characteristics of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people counted in the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, particularly for characteristics used to monitor progress against Closing the Gap targets (Education, Labour Force and Income). The chapter finds that attempting to measure the impact of changing propensity to identify is complex. Across all characteristics analysed, intercensal improvements appear to be a result of a combination of the changing population distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Remoteness areas, persons who are socio-economically better off choosing to identify, and actual progress.

There are three technical notes attached to this publication to provide background and context to the analysis. Technical Note 1 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Status and the Census looks at the characteristics of people whose Indigenous Status is unknown. Technical Note 2 The undercount in the Census and the PES outlines Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undercount and overcount from the 2016 Post Enumeration Survey. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undercount increased slightly to 17.5% in 2016 (from 17.2%). Finally, the Technical Note 3 provides information on the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset. For more information, please see the technical note sections on the Methodology page.

Overview of the increase

Overview of the increase between 2011 and 2016

Key findings

  • Counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians increased by 18.4% between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. This increase is less than the increase between 2006 and 2011 (20.5%).
  • The growth in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 2011 and 2016 is not consistent across the country, with growth primarily occurring in Major Cities and on the Eastern coast of Australia.
     

There were 100,803 more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians counted in the 2016 Census compared to 2011, an 18.4% increase. Since the introduction of the Standard Indigenous Question (SIQ) in 1996, the Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians increased by 83.9%.

Factors that can have an impact on the intercensal increase are:

  • The fertility rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, which have traditionally been higher than other Australian women.
  • People entering and leaving the population through migration.
  • Variation in Census coverage and response rates.
  • People changing if they identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person between Census years.
     

This chapter will quantify the intercensal increase between 2011 and 2016. It will be examined by age, state and territory and Remoteness. Change Explained by Demographic Factors and Change Not Explained by Demographic Factors will then break that increase up into its demographically-explainable and unexplainable components.

Intercensal change by age

An age cohort is a group of people with the same age within a defined period. For example, persons aged 30-34 years in 2016 are the same five-year cohort as persons who were aged 25-29 years in 2011. An age cohort analysis is used to analyse changes for a chosen group of people at points in time and is a way of examining Census data longitudinally without linking. Utilising an age-cohort analysis to examine intercensal change between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses can provide further insights into how change has impacted the overall population.

Expressing the intercensal change in each age cohort as a proportion of the total population change allows analysis on how each age group contributed to overall population change. The majority (72.7%) of the 100,803 person increase between 2011 and 2016 can be attributed to intercensal births (0-4 year olds). In a population where people cannot migrate in or out, we would expect 0-4 year olds to be the only cohort to contribute to population growth. However, between 2011 and 2016 almost every five-year age cohort under 70 years old increased in size.

After 0-4 year olds, the biggest contributing age groups were 5-9 year olds (8.3%) and 10-14 year olds (6.4%). In total, children under 15 accounted for 87.4% of the increase. Most other age cohorts had minor contributions of up to 2.9%.

Counts in some age cohorts decreased between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, resulting in these cohorts making negative contributions to the population. These were primarily older age cohorts (70 years and over). The exception was the 20-24 years age cohort, which recorded a decrease of 1,748 in the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons. Falls in this age cohort were observed in previous Census cycles and possibly reflect a small number of people being missed by the Census, then being picked up in subsequent Censuses later in life.

1.1 Age cohort change, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 2011-2016(a)(b)

 2011 Census Count(c)2016 Census CountChange in CountsContribution to Increase in Census Counts(d)
Age in 2016 Censusno.no.no.%
0-4 years
. .
73 265
73 265
72.7
5-9 years
67 416
75 755
8 339
8.3
10-14 years
64 936
71 378
6 442
6.4
15-19 years
64 737
66 266
1 529
1.5
20-24 years
59 200
57 452
–1 748
–1.7
25-29 years
46 454
47 934
1 480
1.5
30-34 years
38 803
40 927
2 124
2.1
35-39 years
33 003
35 401
2 398
2.4
40-44 years
34 074
36 994
2 920
2.9
45-49 years
33 605
36 034
2 429
2.4
50-54 years
28 820
31 381
2 561
2.5
55-59 years
24 327
25 897
1 570
1.6
60-64 years
18 638
19 541
903
0.9
65-69 years
13 592
13 722
130
0.1
70-74 years
8 677
8 129
–548
–0.5
75-79 years
5 501
4 689
–812
–0.8
80-84 years
3 380
2 677
–703
–0.7
85 years and over
3 218
1 734
–1 484
–1.5
Total
548 368
649 171
100 803
100.0
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
c. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years. For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.
d. Calculated as a proportion of total 2011-2016 intercensal change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counts.
. . not applicable

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Data downloads Overview of the Increase, Table 1.3
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

Across all age cohorts, population changes were generally consistent for males and females. Slightly more males contributed to the increasing population in younger age groups and slightly more females in older age groups. Again, the exception was the 20-24 year old cohort where counts of males fell significantly more than counts of females, with males contributing approximately two thirds of the decrease in this cohort.

1.2 Intercensal change by age cohort and sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 2011-2016(a)(b)

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations.

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations.

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0)
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations.

Intercensal change by remoteness

The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Remoteness Structure is a geographic classification that divides Australia into broad regions that share common characteristics of Remoteness. Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations can vary significantly between different types of Remoteness areas making this classification very valuable for understanding the overall population.

Remoteness is associated with poorer outcomes on a range of Closing the Gap targets (see Closing the Gap targets: 2017 analysis of progress and key drivers of change released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). Consequentially, changes in the population distribution across Remoteness areas may impact on the progress towards meeting these targets (see Impact of Intercensal Change on Selected Characteristics).

Since the 2006 Census, the distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Remote and Non-Remote Australia has shifted. Proportionally, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are living in Major Cities and Inner Regional Areas and fewer people are living in Outer Regional Australia, Remote Australia and Very Remote Australia. These shifts are larger between the 2011 Census and the 2016 Census than they were between the 2006 Census and the 2011 Census.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Major Cities accounted for the greatest proportion (53.6% or 53,981 persons) of the additional 100,803 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons counted in the 2016 Census. Other major contributions came from Inner Regional areas (34.0% or 34,309 persons) and Outer Regional areas (9.3% or 9,391 persons). Remote and Very Remote areas contributed just 2.3% of the overall increase (2,351 persons).

In terms of population distribution, Outer Regional Australia and Very Remote Australia recorded the largest percentage point falls between 2011 and 2016 (1.9 percentage points each). Percentage growth fell in Outer Regional areas by 12.2 percentage points, and 10.3 percentage points in Very Remote areas.

Download
  1. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Data downloads Overview of the Increase, Table 1.2
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

All states and territories had significant population growth in Non-Remote areas between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. New South Wales (26.6%), Victoria (26.1%) and Queensland (23.2%) saw large increases in their Non-Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. The Northern Territory had the smallest (7.8%) increase, while the ACT’s seemingly-large increase was off a low base.

The Northern Territory had the largest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons living in Remote areas, which saw essentially no growth (0.1%) between 2011 and 2016. Queensland (5.3%), Tasmania (6.1%) and Western Australia (3.7%) were the only jurisdictions to record positive growth in Remote areas.

1.4 Intercensal change by state and territory remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 2011-2016(a)

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. There are no remote or very remote areas in the ACT. For further information see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2016 (ABS cat. no. 1270.0.55.005).
  3. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. There are no remote or very remote areas in the ACT. For further information see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2016 (ABS cat. no. 1270.0.55.005).
  3. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Intercensal change by remoteness and age

Intercensal births (age cohort 0-4) will always show the largest increase between Censuses. For cohorts aged 5 years and over, growth primarily occurred in Major Cities and Inner Regional areas. In Outer Regional, Remote and Very Remote areas there were declines in counts in almost every age cohort.

Considering growth was much higher in Non-Remote areas than in Remote areas, it is expected that there are very different patterns in their age cohort analyses. In Remote and Very Remote areas, almost every age cohort made a negative contribution to the area’s overall population change. This means that almost the entire population growth in these areas came from births (0-4 year olds) and that non-demographic factors such as changing propensity to identify are not a significant factor in these areas.

In Major Cities and Inner Regional areas, 0-4 year olds were much smaller contributors to the overall increase, contributing just over half of total population change in these areas. This is significantly lower than the contribution 0-4 year olds made to the national increase (72.7%) and suggests an increased propensity to identify has a significant influence on intercensal population change in these areas.

Children aged 5-14 were the second largest contributor to the national increase (14.7%). This can also be observed in Major Cities (17.5%), Inner Regional (19.1%) and Outer Regional areas (8.5%). However, in Remote areas only 5-9 years olds had a positive contribution.

1.5 Age cohort contributions to total increase by remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 2011-2016(a)(b)

 Major Cities of AustraliaInner Regional AustraliaOuter Regional AustraliaRemote AustraliaVery Remote AustraliaAustralia(b)
Age in 2016%%%%%%
0-4 years
50.9
54.4
153.5
932.3
438.9
72.7
5-9 years
8.9
9.8
5.2
5.3
–12.3
8.3
10-14 years
8.6
9.3
3.3
–74.7
–70.6
6.4
15-19 years
6.5
2.9
–18.5
–161.3
–34.7
1.5
20-24 years
3.5
–1.8
–25.7
–136.9
–4.2
–1.7
25-29 years
3.2
2.2
–3.7
–52.3
–25.1
1.5
30-34 years
3.1
3.3
–1.9
–38.7
–22.9
2.1
35-39 years
3.2
3.6
–0.3
–59.3
–19.1
2.4
40-44 years
3.8
3.9
–1.4
–41.5
–15.7
2.9
45-49 years
3.1
3.4
–0.6
–52.5
–12.5
2.4
50-54 years
2.7
3.3
0.6
–13.0
–5.6
2.5
55-59 years
2.0
2.9
0.3
–36.7
–19.1
1.6
60-64 years
1.1
2.1
0.1
–38.7
–14.9
0.9
65-69 years
0.5
1.2
0.0
–29.9
–22.9
0.1
70-74 years
–0.1
0.3
–2.3
–22.6
–14.0
–0.5
75-79 years
–0.1
–0.1
–3.3
–26.6
–14.9
–0.8
80-84 years
–0.3
–0.2
–2.5
–15.2
–9.1
–0.7
85 years and over
–0.8
–0.6
–3.0
–38.9
–20.0
–1.5
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes Migratory-offshore-shipping and Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Overview of the Increase, Table 1.4
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

Intercensal change by state and territory

New South Wales had the largest numerical increase (43,551) in its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population between 2011 and 2016, while Victoria had the highest percentage growth (25.8%). The Australian Capital Territory had the smallest numerical increase in population of all states and territories (1,324), but large percentage growth (25.5%).

Across all states and territories, percentage growth in the number of males (19.2%) was slightly greater than that for females (17.6%). The Australian Capital Territory was the only state or territory where there was greater growth in the number of females than males (27.9% compared to 23.0%).

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. 

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0). 
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016

New South Wales

New South Wales (NSW) recorded the largest count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2016 (216,176) and contributed almost half (43.2%) of the overall increase in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons.

The majority (57.3%) of population growth in NSW was attributable to 0-4 year olds with 5-14 year olds contributing a further 17.3% of growth. Persons aged 5 years and over contributed more to population growth in NSW (42.9%) than they did nationally (27.4%).

With the exception of intercensal births (0-4 year olds in 2016), there were falls across all age cohorts in Remote areas in NSW. There were increases in all age cohorts in Non-Remote areas.

1.7 Intercensal change by age cohort and remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, NSW, 2011-2016(a)

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Approximately two-thirds (71.9%) of population growth in NSW came from the two Indigenous Regions with the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, NSW Central and North Coast (40.1%) and Sydney-Wollongong (31.8%). Approximately a third of the increase in each of these two regions came from persons aged 15 years and over.

1.8 Age cohort change Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, New South Wales Indigenous Regions, 2011-2016(a)

 0-4 years5-9 years10-14 years15 years and olderTotal
New South Wales Indigenous Regionno.no.no.no.no.
Dubbo
1 602
–34
–20
–117
1 439
North-Eastern NSW
2 604
221
197
274
3 292
North-Western NSW
810
2
–110
–670
34
NSW Central and North Coast
8 103
1 890
1 650
5 817
17 452
Riverina - Orange
3 065
417
470
850
4 803
South-Eastern NSW
1 578
262
196
709
2 742
Sydney - Wollongong
7 160
1 232
1 207
4 247
13 852
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Overview of the Increase, Table 1.5
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

Victoria

Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in Victoria increased by 25.8% between 2011 and 2016. This increase contributed 9.7% of the national increase in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons.

Approximately half of population growth in Victoria was attributable to 0-4 year olds with 5-14 year olds contributing a further 14.7% to total state growth. Persons aged 0-4 years contributed less to Victoria’s population growth than they did nationally, while 44.0% of growth came from persons aged 5 years and over compared to 27.4% nationally.

Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, there were consistent increases in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in all five-year age groups up to 69 years, including those aged 20-24 in 2016. In this respect, Victoria’s population distribution differs from the national distribution, but is consistent with the 2011 Census where an increase was also recorded in Victoria for this age cohort.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

​​​​​​​Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

The overall increase in Victoria was divided fairly evenly across Victoria’s two Indigenous Regions with Melbourne contributing 58.3% of the total state increase and Victoria (exc. Melbourne) contributing the remaining 41.7%. However, the contribution by age cohort was different between the two regions with persons aged 15 years and over contributing 42.2% of the total increase in Melbourne but only 11.7% of the total increase in Victoria (exc. Melbourne).

1.10 Age cohort change Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Victoria Indigenous Regions, 2011-2016(a)

 0-4 years5-9 years10-14 years15 years and olderTotal
Victoria Indigenous Regionno.no.no.no.no.
Melbourne
2 395
437
474
2 409
5 712
Victoria exc. Melbourne
3 058
289
254
480
4 086
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Overview of the Increase, Table 1.5
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

Queensland

Queensland recorded the second-largest count (186,482) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2016, after NSW.

There was an increase of 21,857 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders aged 0-4 years counted in 2016, which accounted for nearly three-quarters of the overall increase in the state (71.3%). Children aged 5-14 years contributed a further 15.0%, meaning the increase in Queensland counts was driven almost entirely by children under 15.

As observed in NSW, the increase in Queensland was entirely focused in Non-Remote areas, where there were increases in almost every age cohort. With the exception of intercensal births (0-4 year olds in 2016), all age cohorts saw a decline in Remote areas.

The population of 20-24 years olds in Queensland decreased in both Remote and Non-Remote areas, although there was a small increase in Major Cities.

1.11 Intercensal change by age cohort and remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Queensland, 2011-2016(a)

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0). 
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Growth in Queensland was strongest in the Indigenous Region of Brisbane. Brisbane added 17,463 people between Census years and contributed 57.0% of the overall state increase. There was also modest growth on Queensland’s Eastern coast with Rockhampton and Townsville-Mackay contributing a further quarter of the state’s overall growth. Brisbane, Rockhampton and Toowoomba-Roma were the only Indigenous Regions in Queensland that recorded positive growth in persons 15 years and over.

1.12 Age cohort change Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Queensland Indigenous Regions, 2011-2016(a)

 0-4 years5-9 years10-14 years15 years and olderTotal
Queensland Indigenous Regionno.no.no.no.no.
Brisbane
8 143
1 587
1 592
6 141
17 463
Cairns - Atherton
2 628
–40
–29
–1 558
999
Cape York
1 123
77
–33
–284
888
Mount Isa
866
–76
–156
–693
–57
Rockhampton
2 753
366
272
404
3 791
Toowoomba - Roma
2 353
146
240
113
2 853
Torres Strait
756
59
–90
–13
703
Townsville - Mackay
3 197
412
341
–11
3 940
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Overview of the Increase, Table 1.5
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

South Australia

In the 2016 Census, South Australia’s (SA) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population increased by 3,752 persons (12.3%), mostly driven by growth in Non-Remote areas. Similarly to the pattern observed in Queensland, SA’s population growth was driven almost entirely by children under 15.

1.13 Intercensal change by age cohort and remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, South Australia, 2011-2016(a)

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Growth in SA was almost entirely attributed to the Indigenous Region of Adelaide, which grew by 3,535 people, contributing 94.2% of the overall state increase. The remaining population growth was in Port Augusta, with Port Lincoln-Ceduna recording small negative change. Population growth in both Adelaide and Port Augusta was primarily driven by 0-4 year olds.

1.14 Age cohort change, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, South Australia Indigenous Regions, 2011-2016(a)

 0-4 years5-9 years10-14 years15 years and olderTotal
South Australia Indigenous Regionno.no.no.no.no.
Adelaide
2 769
365
253
148
3 535
Port Augusta
776
23
–44
–485
268
Port Lincoln - Ceduna
238
–5
–17
–366
–145
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Overview of the Increase, Table 1.4
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

Western Australia

Western Australia’s (WA) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population had one of the smallest percentage increases between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses (9.1%). The state had the fourth-highest increase in counts, adding 6,314 persons. Similar to Queensland, all population growth in WA came from children aged 0-14 years with a decline across all other age cohorts.

Keeping with national trends, the increase in WA is focused in Non-Remote areas. With the exception of intercensal births (0-4 year olds in 2016), the only Remote age cohort that saw an increase was children 5-9 years. In contrast with other states and territories, there were decreases in counts recorded in many age cohorts in Non-Remote areas as well as in Remote areas.

1.15 Intercensal change by age cohort and remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, WA, 2011-2016(a)

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).

Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Growth in WA was driven by growth in the Indigenous Regions of Perth (56.8%), South-Western WA (19.7%), South Hedland (17.6%) and West Kimberley (14.5%). South Hedland and Western Kimberly were the only two Indigenous Regions in WA to record an increase in counts for persons 15 years and over.

1.16 Age cohort change Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Western Australia Indigenous Regions, 2011-2016(a)

 0-4 years5-9 years10-14 years15 years and olderTotal
Western Australia Indigenous Regionno.no.no.no.no.
Broome
525
36
1
–356
199
Geraldton
630
–39
–24
–725
–164
Kalgoorlie
630
–2
–74
–540
14
Kununurra
526
–127
–194
–944
–745
Perth
3 314
237
272
–236
3 584
South Hedland
902
139
16
49
1 110
South-Western WA
1 322
139
82
–297
1 247
West Kimberley
533
36
–3
351
914
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Overview of the Increase, Table 1.5
Source(s): AustralianCensus of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

Tasmania

In the 2016 Census, Tasmania’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population increased by 3,947 persons (20.1%). Due to the small size of the state’s population, the change in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over between 2006 and 2011 was minor for most five-year age cohorts.

The distribution of the population changes in Tasmania in 2016 is consistent with the national trend. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-4 years in 2016 accounted for the majority (61.8% or 2,439 people) of the total increase with other children aged 5-14 years contributing a further 19.6% of total population change.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Northern Territory

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the Northern Territory (NT) increased by 1,469 people between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. This increase was driven by births between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. Apart from a very small rise in the count of women in the 50-54 year cohort, there were population decreases in every other cohort (excluding intercensal births).

The decrease in the 5-9 and 10-14 year olds old cohorts is particularly notable, since these cohorts saw increases in every other jurisdiction. Decreases in most age cohorts occurred in the NT in 2011 as well.

A large proportion of the NT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population were living in Remote areas and it was Remote areas that made the major contribution to overall population change. Small growth in some age cohorts was observed in Non-Remote areas in the NT; however this was offset by larger declines in Remote areas.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Four of the Indigenous Regions in the NT recorded intercensal population growth with the Darwin region (63.2%) and Nhulunbuy (20.3%) the main contributors to the Territory’s population growth.

1.19 Age cohort change Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Northern Territory Indigenous Regions, 2011-2016(a)

 0-4 years5-9 years10-14 years15 years and olderTotal
Northern Territory Indigenous Regionno.no.no.no.no.
Alice Springs
427
–35
–75
–404
–93
Apatula
687
–27
–139
–426
89
Darwin
1 243
122
128
–562
928
Jabiru - Tiwi
1 068
–94
–286
–659
28
Katherine
951
–85
–123
–903
–166
Nhulunbuy
845
64
–115
–508
298
Tennant Creek
367
–49
–110
–391
–179
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Overview of the Increase, Table 1.5
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

​​​​​​​Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) recorded the smallest increase in person counts (1,324) of all states and territories reflecting the small total population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons. Small increases were recorded for people aged 15 years and over between 2016 and 2011 for most five-year age cohorts.

Children and youth under 25 years accounted for most of the population growth (83.9%) in the ACT, with growth primarily driven by children age 0-4 years. The ACT was the only jurisdiction other than Victoria to record growth in the 20-24 years old cohort.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Intercensal change by Indigenous Regions

Examining population change within Indigenous Regions shows significant variability across the country. The largest population increases occurred on Australia’s east coast with the Indigenous Regions of Brisbane (17,463 persons), NSW Central and North Coast (17,452 persons) and Sydney-Wollongong (13,852 persons) contributing 48.3% of the total national increase.

While most Indigenous Regions recorded population increases between 2011 and 2016, some did record small decreases. These regions were primarily in Remote Australia with the biggest decrease recorded in the Kununurra region (–745 persons), followed by Tennant Creek (–179 persons) and Katherine (–166 persons).

1.21 Intercensal change in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Indigenous Regions, 2011-2016(a)

Map: Intercensal change in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses in Indigenous Regions.

1.21 Intercensal change in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Indigenous Regions, 2011-2016(a)

This map shows the distribution of the 100,803 person intercensal increase across Indigenous Regions. The data is broken up into groups and is only shown for locations that can be mapped. The map does not include data for Other Territories or regions defined as no usual address or migratory, offshore, shipping. The data used to calculate intercensal growth can be found in table 1.5 of the data cube titled 'Overview of the Increase'.

Indigenous Regions with a contribution of -0.7 to -0.1% to intercensal growth include:
· Kununurra
· Geraldton
· Katherine
· Tennant Creek
· Mount Isa
· Port Lincoln - Ceduna
· Alice Springs

Indigenous Regions with a contribution of 0.0 to 1.0% to intercensal growth include:
· North-Western New South Wales
· Kalgoorlie
· Jabiru - Tiwi
· Apatula
· Broome
· Port Augusta
· Nhulunbuy
· Torres Strait
· Cape York
· West Kimberley
· Darwin
· Cairns - Atherton

Indigenous Regions with a contribution of 1.1 to 1.4% to intercensal growth include:
· South Hedland
· South-Western Western Australia
· ACT
· Dubbo

Indigenous Regions with a contribution of 1.5 to 5.7% to intercensal growth include:
· South-Eastern New South Wales
· Toowoomba - Roma
· North-Eastern New South Wales
· Adelaide
· Perth
· Rockhampton
· Townsville - Mackay
· Tasmania
· Victoria excluding Melbourne
· Riverina - Orange
· Melbourne

Indigenous Regions with a contribution of 5.8 to 17.3% to intercensal growth include:
· Sydney - Wollongong
· NSW Central and North Coast
· Brisbane
  1. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors. 

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0). 
See Data downloads Overview of the Increase, Table 1.
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Estimated Resident Population

The Estimated Resident Population (ERP), is the official population estimate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. It is calculated using the results of the 2016 Census as a base with adjustments applied during the intercensal period to account for births, deaths and overseas migration over time, together with an adjustment for the net Census undercount (as measured by the Census Post Enumeration Survey (PES) (see Technical Note 2 – The Undercount in the Census and the PES).

The final estimate of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population at 30 June 2016 was 798,365 people, up from 669,881 in 2011. Breaking this estimate down into age cohorts and by state/territory reveals how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is distributed once adjusting for the net Census undercount. By comparing this breakdown to Census counts, we can then see whether the age cohorts that are contributing to the increase in Census counts are consistent with the estimated number of people in that age cohort based on ERP.

1.22 Population change by age cohort and sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 2011(a)-2016(b)(c)(d)

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years. For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.
  4. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years. For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.
  4. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years. For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.
  4. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

The majority of age cohorts made similar contributions to changes in ERP as they did to the change in Census counts. In both datasets, intercensal births, or young children aged 0-4 ,were the main source of intercensal population change, contributing 73.0% of the increase in ERP and 72.7% of the increase in Census counts.

There was a noticeable change between Census counts and ERP for young adults aged 20-24 years. This cohort made a negative contribution to the overall Census difference (–1.7%) but a positive contribution to the overall ERP difference (1.0%). Because the ERP adjusts for undercount, this suggests the difference may be attributable to undercount for this age cohort in the Census rather than a change in identification.

1.23 Contribution of age cohort to population increases, ERP and Census, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Australia, 2011-2016

 A - Contribution to ERP Increase 2011-2016(a)B - Contribution to Census Count Increase 2011-2016(b)Difference (A-B)
Age in 2016 Census%%% points
0-4 years
73.0
72.7
0.3
5-9 years
8.6
8.3
0.3
10-14 years
5.5
6.4
–0.9
15-19 years
2.2
1.5
0.7
20-24 years
1.0
–1.7
2.7
25-29 years
1.1
1.5
–0.4
30-34 years
0.6
2.1
–1.5
35-39 years
1.7
2.4
–0.7
40-44 years
2.8
2.9
–0.1
45-49 years
2.1
2.4
–0.3
50-54 years
2.4
2.5
–0.1
55-59 years
1.2
1.6
–0.4
60-64 years
0.7
0.9
–0.2
65-69 years
0.2
0.1
0.1
70-74 years
-0.6
–0.5
–0.1
75-79 years
-0.7
–0.8
0.1
80-84 years
-0.6
–0.7
0.1
85 years and over
-1.2
–1.5
0.3
a. 2016 Estimated Resident Population. See Australian Demographic Statistics, March 2017 (ABS cat. no. 3101.0).
b. Usual Residence Census counts calculated as a proportion of total intercensal change. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Overview of the Increase, Table 1.5
Sources: ERP; Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016.
 

Estimated Resident Population by state and territory

When comparing ERP and Census counts by State and Territory, Australia’s larger States – NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA and SA – showed a similar distribution across age cohorts to that observed nationally, with the majority of population growth from intercensal births (0-4 year olds) and young children (5-14 year olds).

The most notable exception could be seen in Victoria where 25-29 year olds contributed much less to changes in ERP estimates than changes in Census counts (3.0% compared to 0.2%).

In NSW, the contribution of age cohorts 15 years and over to population change was 26.9% - higher than all other states and territories and the national contribution (13.0%).

1.24 Population change by age cohort and state and territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 2011(a)-2016(b)(c)

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population.  See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years.  For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.
  4. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population.  See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years.  For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population.  See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years.  For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population.  See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years.  For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population.  See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years.  For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population.  See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years.  For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population.  See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years.  For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population.  See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years.  For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Download
  1. 2011 Final Estimated Resident Population.  See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  2. 2016 Final Estimated Resident Population. See Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).
  3. 2011 age groups have been adjusted up 5 years.  For example, a person who was aged 0-4 in 2011 would be aged 5-9 years in 2016.

Source(s): Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001). Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (ABS cat no. 3238.0.55.001).

Comparing population projections and Estimated Resident Population

Following the 2011 Census, the ABS projected that Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population would grow to 744,956 people in 2016. The 2016 Estimated Resident Population (ERP) shows the population is 7.2% bigger than the projected population at 798,365 persons.

Comparing ERP to the population projections, we can see the difference in the projected and actual 2016 populations has primarily been driven by children under 15, with 5-9 year olds making up 20.8% of the difference and 10-14 year olds contributing 13.4%. The large contribution of 5-14 year olds appears to be driven mainly by the unexplained increase in the Census counts for children in these age groups as, outside of new births, they were the largest contributors to intercensal growth.

Download
  1. Projection Series B. See Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (ABS cat. no. 3238.0) for further information.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Source(s): Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (ABS cat. no. 3238.0). Australian Demographic Statistics, March 2017(ABS cat no. 3101.0).

Change explained by demographic factors

​​​​​​​Key findings

  • Most (79,272 or 78.6%) of the 100,803 increase in the Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016 can be explained by demographic factors. That is, births, deaths and overseas migration.
  • The proportion of the increase that is explainable is greater than it was between 2006 and 2011 (70.2%).
  • The remaining 21.4% (21,531) of the increase in Census counts is unexplainable change; that is change that is not explained by demographic factors of births, deaths and overseas migration.
     

As outlined in Overview of the Increase, there was an increase of 100,803 persons (18.4%) between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. There are components of this increase that can be explained by demographic factors of births, deaths and overseas migration (referred to as demographically-explainable change) and a component that cannot (referred to as unexplainable change). The proportion of the increase that can be attributed to each component can be quantified by comparing Census data with administrative datasets of births and deaths where Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status is collected and is considered of acceptable quality. This chapter will:

  • Quantify the explainable change due to the demographic factors of births, deaths and migration between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses.
  • Explore the relative contribution of those factors.
  • Compare the explainable changes with those observed between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses for states and territories, Remoteness Areas and Indigenous Regions.
     

The analysis presented in this chapter is based on the 649,171 people who identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the 2016 Census. This analysis does not consider Census records where a person did not provide their Indigenous status.

Framework for measuring change

In order to measure explainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to produce an expected 2016 count.

If it were possible to achieve complete coverage in Census enumeration, and consistency in the reporting and recording of each person's Indigenous status, change in Census counts between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses would be entirely attributable to births, deaths and migration combined. In reality there will always be an element of the total change in counts between Censuses that cannot be explained, such as the change that occurs as a result of individuals identifying, or who are identified, as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person in one Census but not in another, as well as errors in the measurement of births, deaths and migration.

The framework for measuring explainable change can be represented as:

Change explained by demographic factors

Changes explained by demographic factors

Change explained by demographic factors

The image shows that change explained by demographic factors is equal to natural increase (intercensal births minus intercensal deaths) plus intercensal net migration (includes migration to/from overseas).

The proportion of intercensal change attributable to explainable change is calculated on the difference between 2011 and 2016 Census counts.

Change explained by demographic factors by state and territory

Natural increase

Natural increase is the net effect of deaths minus births between two Census periods. At the national level, 76.7% of the increase in Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016 can be attributed to natural increase. In comparison, 58.7% of the increase between 2006 and 2011 was attributable to natural increase.

Measuring natural increase using Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status in birth and death registrations

Birth and death registrations are important components of many demographic statistics, such as population estimates and calculations of life expectancy at birth. The ABS and the state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages are committed to improving the identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and also the completeness and accuracy of the recording of Indigenous status on birth and death registration forms. However, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not correctly identified or recorded as such when their birth or death is registered.

It is generally assumed that the number of registered births and deaths understates the level of fertility and mortality in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and so projected births would normally be used in this analysis, given they take into account this under-identification. However, the quality of Indigenous identification in registration data continues to improve. Consistent with this, between 2011 and 2016, the number of registered births exceeded the number of projected births in most jurisdictions. This increase in births registrations is consistent with the increase in the Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For this reason, births and deaths registrations rather than projections have been used.

Between states and territories, there is variation in the contribution to the intercensal change in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that can be attributed to natural increase. In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, just over half of the increase can be attributed to natural increase (57.0% and 58.7% respectively), while in Queensland, natural increase accounted for three-quarters of the increase (75.1%). In contrast, natural increase was greater than the overall increase in Census counts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia with the population growth among 0-4 year olds offsetting declines in numbers for all other age cohorts.

2.1 Change due to natural increase by state and territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)

 Census countIntercensal changeBirths(b)Deaths(b)Change due to Natural Increase(c)
 201120162011-20162011-20162011-20162011-2016
 no.no.no.%no.no.no.%
New South Wales
172 625
216 176
43 551
25.2
28 652
3 838
24 814
57.0
Victoria
37 992
47 788
9 796
25.8
6 801
635
6 166
62.9
Queensland
155 826
186 482
30 656
19.7
26 776
3 762
23 014
75.1
South Australia
30 432
34 184
3 752
12.3
4 692
823
3 869
103.1
Western Australia
69 664
75 978
6 314
9.1
13 915
2 435
11 480
181.8
Tasmania
19 625
23 572
3 947
20.1
2 656
194
2 462
62.4
Northern Territory
56 779
58 248
1 469
2.6
7 242
2 543
4 699
319.9
Australia Capital Territory
5 184
6 508
1 324
25.5
848
71
777
58.7
Australia(d)
548 368
649 171
100 803
18.4
91 608
14 305
77 303
76.7
a. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
b. Registered births and deaths.
c. Registered births minus registered deaths.
d. Includes Other Territories. Please note, in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.1
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016; ABS Birth Registrations; ABS Death Registrations
 

Births and fertility

There were 5,849 more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 0-4 year olds counted in the 2016 Census than in the 2011 Census (73,265 compared to 67,416). One possible explanation for this increase would be a higher fertility rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women between 2011 and 2016 than that observed between 2006 and 2011. However, the average number of children ever born across all age groups decreased slightly between these periods. This suggests that the increase may be a result of increased propensity for parents to identify their children as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the 2016 Census than in the 2011 Census. For more detailed analysis of fertility rates and parent/child identification please see Changing Propensity to Identify.

Overseas migration

Some information about overseas migration is collected in the Census, in response to the question "What was your place of usual residence five years ago?" People who answer this question by stating they were overseas are assumed to have migrated to Australia after the last Census and before the current Census. Persons who were overseas at the time of the 2016 Census will not have a Census record for 2016 so these will be an unquantifiable net loss between the two Censuses.

In the 2016 Census, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who indicated that they had been living overseas at the time of the 2011 Census accounted for 2.0% (1,969 persons) of the increase in Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during this period (compared with 1.5% or 1,375 persons between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses).

Administrative data sources of overseas migration (arrival and departure information from the Department of Home Affairs) do not collect the Indigenous status of persons arriving to or departing from Australia, so it is not possible to compare Census migration information to administrative records to explore possible differences.

2.2 Change due to overseas migration by state/territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)

 Census countIntercensal changeOverseas migration(b)Change due to overseas migration
 201120162011-20162011-20162011-2016
 no.no.no.%no.%
New South Wales
172 625
216 176
43 551
25.2
655
1.5
Victoria
37 992
47 788
9 796
25.8
278
2.8
Queensland
155 826
186 482
30 656
19.7
573
1.9
South Australia
30 432
34 184
3 752
12.3
92
2.5
Western Australia
69 664
75 978
6 314
9.1
197
3.1
Tasmania
19 625
23 572
3 947
20.1
52
1.3
Northern Territory
56 779
58 248
1 469
2.6
48
3.3
Australia Capital Territory
5 184
6 508
1 324
25.5
65
4.9
Australia(c)
548 368
649 171
100 803
18.4
1 969
2.0
a. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
b. People who migrated to or returned to Australia from overseas.
c. Includes Other Territories. Please note, in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.1
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

Interstate migration

Within Australia, migration between the states and territories provides an important insight into population changes at the jurisdictional level. Information on internal migration is collected in the Census, in response to the question "What was your place of usual residence five years ago?"

Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia recorded a net gain in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents from interstate migration. While most rates of net gain remained largely similar for these states and territories over the 2006 to 2011 intercensal period, the Australian Capital Territory recorded a net gain of 19.9% between 2011 and 2016 compared with 11.4% between 2006 and 2011.

The Northern Territory, Tasmania and New South Wales experienced net loss from interstate migration between 2011 and 2016. The net loss was highest in New South Wales (2,012 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people).

2.3 Change due to interstate migration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)

 Census countIntercensal changeMovers in(b)Movers out(c)Change due to interstate migration(d)
 201120162011-20162011-20162011-20162011-2016
 no.no.no.%no.no.no.%
New South Wales
172 625
216 176
43 551
25.2
5 824
7 836
–2,012
–4.6
Victoria
37 992
47 788
9 796
25.8
3 583
2 675
908
9.3
Queensland
155 826
186 482
30 656
19.7
8 184
6 659
1,525
5.0
South Australia
30 432
34 184
3 752
12.3
1 771
1 489
282
7.5
Western Australia
69 664
75 978
6 314
9.1
2 494
2 281
213
3.4
Tasmania
19 625
23 572
3 947
20.1
890
1 090
–200
–5.1
Northern Territory
56 779
58 248
1 469
2.6
2 094
3 055
–961
-65.4
Australian Capital Territory
5 184
6 508
1 324
25.5
1 128
865
263
19.9
Australia(e)
548 368
649 171
100 803
18.4
. .
. .
. .
a. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
b. People who migrated into that state/territory from another state/territory.
c. People who migrated out of that state/territory to another state/territory.
d. Movers in minus movers out. (e) Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
. . not applicable — nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.1
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

Change explained by demographic factors by remoteness

Natural increase

In Major Cities and Inner Regional areas, natural increase was substantially lower than relative change between Censuses and accounted for a smaller proportion of the overall increase in these areas compared to other parts of Australia.

Overseas migration

Whilst the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who migrated to, or returned to, Australia between 2011 and 2016 is small (1,969 persons), these persons were most likely to be returning to Major Cities. The number of people returning to Major Cities from overseas between 2011 and 2016 was more than double the number returning to Regional areas and significantly higher than Remote and Very Remote areas.

Inter-regional migration

Major Cities and Inner Regional areas were the main beneficiaries of inter-regional migration between 2011 and 2016 with the vast majority of movements into these areas.

2.4 Change explained by demographic factors, by Remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)

 Intercensal change 2011-2016BirthsDeathsNatural increase(b)Overseas migrationNet inter-regional migrationTotal change explained by demographic factors
 no.no.no.no.no.no.no.%
Major Cities
53 981
33 110
3 677
29 433
1 313
9 379
40 125
74.3
Inner Regional
34 309
20 902
2 351
18 551
351
4 459
23 361
68.1
Outer Regional
9 391
19 170
3 325
15 845
236
1 545
17 626
187.7
Remote
455
6 695
1 748
4 947
38
–473
4 512
991.6
Very Remote
1 894
9 906
2 967
6 939
19
183
7 141
377.0
Australia(c)
100 803
91 608
14 305
77 303
1 969
. .
79 272
78.6
a. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
b. Registered births minus registered deaths. (c) Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
. . not applicable

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.2
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016; ABS Birth Registrations; ABS Death Registrations
 

Change explained by demographic factors by Indigenous Regions

Natural increase

Across the 37 Indigenous Regions (IREGs) in Australia, 21 had natural increases greater than the overall increase in Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016. Kalgoorlie, Jabiru-Tiwi and North-Western New South Wales had the highest proportion of intercensal change due to natural increase.

There were four IREGs where less than half of their increase in Census counts between 2011 and 2016 was attributable to natural increase:

  • New South Wales Central and North Coast (42.3%)
  • West Kimberley (45.6%)
  • Melbourne (46.3%)
  • Brisbane (46.4%)


When natural increase is calculated as a proportion of the 2016 Census count in each IREG, Perth (16.1%), Geraldton (15.2%) and Cairns-Atherton (14.7%) had the highest proportion of the 2016 Census count attributable to natural increase. In contrast, the contribution of natural increase to the 2016 Census count was lowest in Apatula (4.5%), Nhulunbuy (5.0%) and Torres Strait (5.9%).

Overseas migration

Small changes in the number of persons migrating to an IREG in 2016 from overseas can appear as large proportional changes in IREGs with small population change. As such, for overseas migration, we’ve looked at overall numbers rather than proportional change or contribution. In 2016, the IREGs with the highest numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons migrating to Australia from overseas between 2011 and 2016 were all IREGs within close proximity to Australia’s three largest capital cities: Brisbane (377), Sydney-Wollongong (348) and Melbourne (216).

Inter-regional migration

As was the case with overseas migration, the proportional change due to inter-regional migration appears greater in IREGs where there was small change in counts between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses.

In the IREG of Brisbane, which had the largest count of net inter-regional migration (3,305 persons), also had the highest proportion of positive change due to inter-regional migration (18.9% of relative change between 2011 and 2016). Apatula recorded the highest proportion of relative change attributable to inter-regional migration however the actual increases in counts in Apatula as a result of net inter-regional migration are relatively small (108 persons).

As can be expected, IREGs recording a decline in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016 (i.e. negative growth) were more likely to record a loss in population due to inter-regional migration than IREGs where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population increased. This was particularly the case in Mount Isa where net inter-regional migration saw an intercensal loss of 565 persons, far greater than Mount Isa’s overall change (a loss of 57 persons). Similarly, in North-Western NSW net inter-regional migration contributed a loss of 546 persons, far greater than North-Western NSW’s overall absolute change (an intercensal gain of 34 persons).

Change not explained by demographic factors

​​​​​​​Key findings

  • After accounting for births, deaths and net migration, 21.4% of the 100,803 increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons counted in the 2016 Census could not be explained by demographic factors (referred to as unexplainable change).
  • 5-14 year olds contributed the most to the unexplainable change.
  • Growth in rates of unexplainable change is primarily occurring in Major Cities and Inner Regional areas. There is negative unexplainable change in Outer Regional, Remote and Very Remote areas.
  • Across states and territories, unexplainable change is being driven by changes in New South Wales and Queensland. Australia’s two most populous states had age cohort patterns of unexplainable change that closely matched the national distribution.
     

Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, there was change that could not be explained by demographic factors. This is referred to in this chapter as unexplainable change. The factors that may contribute to the unexplainable change are discussed in Changing Propensity to Identify, where we explore identification- particularly of children and families where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons have partnered with non-Indigenous persons. There are a number of other factors in how Censuses are enumerated that can contribute to unexplainable change. These include coverage and response rates. Technical Note 1 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Status and the Census and Technical Note 2 – The Undercount in the Census and the PES for a discussion of these factors, including the Census undercount for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons.

At the national level, the proportion of the unexplainable change as a percentage of the 2016 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was 3.3% between 2011 and 2016, slightly lower than between 2006 and 2011 (5.1%).

This chapter will:

  • Examine key components of the unexplainable change between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses by accounting for measurable demographic factors of population change.
  • Investigate the impact of the 2011-2016 intercensal change on the final Estimated Resident Population (ERP) figures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
     

Framework for measuring unexplainable change

The unexplainable change is the difference between the observed intercensal increase and the proportion of that increase that can be explained by demographic factors.

Change not explained by demographic factors

Change not explained by demographic factors

Change not explained by demographic factors

Change not explained by demographic factors or unexplainable change equals the 2016 Census count minus the 2011 Census count minus explainable change.

The proportion of intercensal change attributable to unexplainable change is expressed in two ways:

  • As a proportion of the 2016 Census count
  • As a proportion of the difference between 2011 and 2016 Census counts


It is possible for the unexplainable change to be negative if the explainable components of the increase are larger than the total intercensal difference. For example, we may expect to see a certain population in an area based on the previous Census counts, natural increase and migration but actual counted less people than this in 2016. This will result in a negative unexplainable change.

As discussed in the Change Explained by Demographic Factors, 78.6% of the intercensal increase can be explained by demographic factors. The analysis in this chapter utilises Census data and ABS Registered Births and Deaths data to approximate unexplainable change for each age cohort. To do this, an expected 2016 population has been calculated based on the 2011 Census counts adjusted for births, deaths and migration. The expected 2016 population has then been compared to the actual 2016 Census population to provide a measure of unexplainable change. This approach, known as the Framework for Measuring Unexplainable Change, is outlined in detail in the Methodology of this publication.

Unexplainable change by age

3.1 Unexplainable change by age cohort, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 2016

 2016 Census Count(a)(b)Expected Count(c)Unexplained Change(d)Contribution to Overall Unexplained Change(e)
Age in 2016 Censusno.no.no.%
0-4 years
73 265
91 092
–17 827
–82.8
5-9 years
75 755
67 478
8 277
38.4
10-14 years
71 378
64 995
6 383
29.6
15-19 years
66 266
64 723
1 543
7.2
20-24 years
57 452
59 028
–1 576
–7.3
25-29 years
47 934
46 336
1 598
7.4
30-34 years
40 927
38 650
2 277
10.6
35-39 years
35 401
32 692
2 709
12.6
40-44 years
36 994
33 411
3 583
16.6
45-49 years
36 034
32 695
3 339
15.5
50-54 years
31 381
27 676
3 705
17.2
55-59 years
25 897
23 058
2 839
13.2
60-64 years
19 541
17 316
2 225
10.3
65-69 years
13 722
12 254
1 468
6.8
70-74 years
8 129
7 498
631
2.9
75-79 years
4 689
4 385
304
1.4
80-84 years
2 677
2 481
196
0.9
85 years and over
1 734
1 900
–166
–0.8
Total
649 171
627 640
21 531
100.0
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
c. In order to measure the unexplained change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas immigration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count.
d. The expected 2016 count is compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
e. Calculated as a proportion of total 2011-2016 unexplained change. Negative unexplainable change occurs when the explainable components of the increase are larger than the total intercensal difference.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0)
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016; ABS Birth Registrations; ABS Death Registrations
 

The age cohort analysis discussed in Overview of the Increase demonstrated that 0-4 year olds were the group that contributed most to the overall intercensal increase between 2011 and 2016.

The framework for measuring unexplainable change allows for a comparison of the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged from 0-4 as counted by the 2016 Census with registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births as recorded in the intercensal period. There was a noticeable difference in the 2016 Census count in 0-4 year olds compared to ABS Registered Births (ABS cat. no. 3301.0). Refer to this publication for information on the collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status in births data.

Traditionally a net undercount (5.1% in 2016) of 0-4 year olds has been observed in the overall Australian population. One known reason for this is young children being mistakenly omitted from Census forms in responding households. However, it is also possible that we are observing the effects of delayed identification of children. When examining unexplainable change by age cohort, we see fewer 0-4 year olds than expected but also many more 5-14 year olds than expected. How parents and children in the same family identify is explored in depth in Changing Propensity to Identify.

Unexplainable change by remoteness

Major Cities and Inner Regional areas recorded positive rates of unexplainable change between 2011 and 2016.

Conversely between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses there was negative unexplainable change in Outer Regional, Remote and Very Remote areas. This means that there were less people counted in these areas than we would expect based on natural increase and migration.

3.2 Unexplainable change by remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)(b)(c)

 no.%
Major Cities13 8565.7
Inner Regional10 9487.0
Outer Regional-8 235-6.4
Remote-4 057-10.1
Very Remote-5 231-6.6
Australia(d)21 5313.3
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Unexplainable change is the difference between two Census counts that cannot be explained by demographic factors of population change. Negative unexplainable change occurs when the explainable components of the increase are larger than the total intercensal difference.
c. Proportions calculated based on the 2016 Census count.
d. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0)
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.2
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

​​​​​​​Major cities

Major Cities have the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and are the major driver of unexplainable change at the national level, contributing close to or more than half of national cohort growth in 13 of the 18 age cohorts.

Whilst there was a small increase in total counts of persons in the 20-24 year age cohort between 2011 and 2016, once factors of explainable change are incorporated this changes to a small decrease. This main driver of the change in this cohort was positive net-migration suggesting that migration is the main influence on the growth in Census counts in this age cohort rather than changes in identification.

3.3 Unexplainable change(a) by age cohort as a contribution to total increase population, major cities, 2011-2016

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations

Inner Regional areas

Inner Regional areas also made a large contribution to the overall unexplainable increase. The age cohort distribution of unexplainable change is similar to that observed for Major Cities. There are however, some key differences when analysing the size and overall contribution of the cohorts.

While there were still less 0-4 year olds in the Census than in the registered births data, the difference was proportionally much smaller than in other remoteness areas. The deficit in Inner Regional areas contributed only 12.0% of the total national unexplainable change for this cohort, which is much lower than the proportion of the overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population that live in Inner Regional areas (24.0%).

3.4 Unexplainable change(a) by age cohort as a contribution to total increase population, Inner Regional, 2011-2016

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count.  The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count.  The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations

Outer Regional areas

Despite recording a growth in Census counts of 7.9% between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, there is negative unexplainable change in Outer Regional Areas. The large unexplainable increase in 5-14 year olds observed nationally and in both Major Cities and Inner Regional areas is negligible in Outer Regional areas. While growth can be observed in the actual Census counts, once net gains in inter-regional migration are accounted for there is almost no change.

3.5 Unexplainable change(a) by age cohort as a contribution to total increase population, Outer Regional, 2011-2016

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations

Remote and very remote areas

Remote and Very Remote areas recorded a small increase in counts between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses (2.0%), and a negative unexplainable change is observed in most age cohorts in both Remoteness areas.

Remote areas recorded a negative unexplainable change of 4,057 persons. This was mostly due to less 0-4 year olds than expected due to demographic factors. In older age groups there was very little intercensal movement, with negligible differences for persons 50 years and older.

Very Remote areas recorded a negative unexplainable change of 5,231 persons. Unlike Remote areas this was spread across almost all age cohorts, with negative unexplainable change observed in 16 of the 18 cohorts.

One potential explanation for low population growth in Remote and Very Remote areas is inter-regional migration. However, an analysis of inter-regional migration from the Census 2016 shows that this is not a factor in the population change in these areas. The net migration impact (including overseas migration) on Remote areas was a decrease of 435 persons. In Very Remote areas the migration impact was positive with a net inflow of 202 persons from 2011.

3.6 Unexplainable change by age cohort , Remote and Very Remote, 2011-2016(a)

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations

Download
  1. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  2. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was not in scope for 2011.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016, ABS Birth Registrations, ABS Death Registrations

Unexplainable change in states and territories

At the national level, the proportion of the unexplainable change as a percentage of the total 2016 census count for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was 3.3% between 2011 and 2016, slightly lower than between 2006 and 2011 (5.1%). This proportion varied by jurisdiction, with proportions higher than the national rate observed in New South Wales (9.3%), Tasmania (6.9%) and Victoria (5.1%).

3.7 Unexplainable change by state and territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)

 Census countIntercensal changeDemographically explainable changeUnexplainable change(b)
 201120162011-20162011-20162011-2016(d)
 Natural increase(c)Overseas migrationInterstate migrationTotal demographically explainable change
 no.no.no.%no.no.no.no.%no.%
New South Wales
172 625
216 176
43 551
25.2
24 814
655
–2 012
23 457
53.9
20 094
9.3
Victoria
37 992
47 788
9 796
25.8
6 166
278
908
7 352
75.1
2 444
5.1
Queensland
155 826
186 482
30 656
19.7
23 014
573
1 525
25 112
81.9
5 544
3.0
South Australia
30 432
34 184
3 752
12.3
3 869
92
282
4 243
113.1
–491
–1.4
Western Australia
69 664
75 978
6 314
9.1
11 480
197
213
11 890
188.3
–5 576
–7.3
Tasmania
19 625
23 572
3 947
20.1
2 462
52
–200
2 314
58.6
1 633
6.9
Northern Territory
56 779
58 248
1 469
2.6
4 699
48
–961
3 786
257.7
–2 317
–4.0
Australian Capital Territory
5 184
6 508
1 324
25.5
777
65
263
1 105
83.5
219
3.4
Australia(e)
548 368
649 171
100 803
18.4
77 303
1 969
. .
79 272
78.6
21 531
3.3
a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Unexplainable change is the difference between two Census counts that cannot be explained by demographic factors of population change. Negative unexplainable change occurs when the explainable components of the increase are larger than the total intercensal difference.
c. Registered births minus registered deaths.
d. Unexplainable change as a proportion of the 2016 Census counts.
e. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
. . not applicable

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0)
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.1
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

The increase in the Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia between 2011 and 2016 was lower than expected. Once measureable change was factored in, unexplainable change was negative in these regions.

The possible reasons for Census counts being lower than expected in some geographic areas include:

  • Parents may have identified their children as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in birth registrations but not in the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, or have moved interstate after their child's birth was registered
  • A person may have moved between Indigenous Regions between the 2011 and 2016 Census and did not record their previous address in the 2016 Census
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander persons may have been missed from being counted in the Census due to variation in Census coverage and response rates.
     

New South Wales

New South Wales has a similar pattern of unexplainable change by age cohort to that observed nationally. It also has the largest population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians of the states and territories.

Minor differences can be observed in the 0-4 year age group with a relatively smaller difference in numbers of 0-4 year olds between the Census and ABS Registered Birth data in NSW. NSW contributed only 20.0% of the national difference in 0-4 year olds whereas NSW contributes 33.3% of the national population.

New South Wales also saw a small positive unexplainable change for the 20-24 year old cohort. This was driven by negative net intercensal migration in this age group which acted to counter the national trend in this cohort towards reduced rates of identification.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  3. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Victoria

There was a small negative unexplainable change observed for 20-24 year olds in Victoria. This is the result of adjustments for positive net interstate migration. All other age cohorts exhibited a similar pattern to that observed nationally.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  3. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Queensland

Queensland is home to almost a third of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Like NSW, it exhibits an almost identical unexplainable change pattern across all age cohorts to that observed nationally.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.
  3. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

South Australia

South Australia had almost no unexplainable change between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses (a decrease of 1.5%). Young children (0-4 year olds) were the main contributors to the state’s unexplainable change. Overall, there is very little evidence increased propensity to identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander is affecting population growth in SA.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Western Australia

Western Australia had the largest negative unexplainable change (a decrease of 7.3%). This was almost entirely a result of the difference in counts of 0-4 year olds in the Census in comparison with ABS Registered Births data.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Tasmania

Tasmania had the second highest rate of unexplainable change (6.9%) of the jurisdictions. The pattern of unexplainable change in Tasmania is in line with the national trend, with unexplainable increases in adults aged 30 years and over and children aged 5-14 years. This suggests that a changing propensity to identify may be impacting population change in Tasmania.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory recorded a small negative unexplainable change (a decrease of 4.0%). The impact of migration on the NT is notable, with the state losing a net 961 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016. Net migration loses were highest amongst persons aged 5-19 years.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT had a rate of unexplainable change of 3.4%. Considering its relatively small population, the impact of migration on the ACT is notable, with net migration (including overseas migration) adding 327 people to the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Net migration was highest amongst persons aged 15-24 years.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. In order to measure the unexplainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to produce an expected 2016 count. The expected 2016 count is then compared to the actual 2016 Census count.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Unexplainable change by Indigenous regions

The IREGs with the highest rate of unexplainable change were NSW Central and North Coast (12.3%) followed by Sydney-Wollongong (10.4%) and West Kimberley (10.2%).

Where natural increase was higher than the overall increase in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, it resulted in a negative unexplainable change. This negative unexplained change was greatest in Kununurra (-21.3), Geraldton (-14.3) and Port Lincoln-Ceduna (-14.1).

3.16 Unexplainable change by Indigenous Regions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 2011-2016(a)(b)(c)

Map: Unexplainable change in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Indigenous Regions between 2011 and 2016

3.16 Unexplainable change by Indigenous Regions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 2011-2016(a)(b)(c)

This map shows the proportion of intercensal change that cannot be explained by demographic factors for Indigenous Regions. The data is broken up into groups and is only shown for locations that can be mapped. The map does not include data for Other Territories or regions defined as no usual address or migratory, offshore, shipping. This data can be found in table 2.3 of the data cube titled 'Explainable and unexplainable change’.

Indigenous Regions with -21.3 to -11.0% of intercensal change that cannot be explained by demographic factors include:
· Kununurra
· Geraldton
· Port Lincoln - Ceduna
· Alice Springs
· Tennant Creek
· Kalgoorlie

Indigenous Regions with -10.9 to -2.0% of intercensal change that cannot be explained by demographic factors include:
· Cairns - Atherton
· Broome
· Katherine
· Jabiru - Tiwi
· Mount Isa
· Perth
· South-Western Western Australia
· Darwin
· Port Augusta
· Apatula
· South Hedland

Indigenous Regions with -1.9 to 0.0% of intercensal change that cannot be explained by demographic factors include:
· Cape York
· North-Western New South Wales
· Townsville - Mackay
· Adelaide
· Nhulunbuy

Indigenous Regions with 0.1 to 4.7% of intercensal change that cannot be explained by demographic factors include:
· Victoria excluding Melbourne
· Dubbo
· Toowoomba - Roma
· ACT
· Rockhampton
· North-Eastern New South Wales

Indigenous Regions with 4.8 to 12.3% of intercensal change that cannot be explained by demographic factors include:
· Tasmania
· Riverina - Orange
· Brisbane
· South-Eastern New South Wales
· Melbourne
· Torres Strait
· West Kimberley
· Sydney - Wollongong
· New South Wales Central and North Coast

a. Usual Residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Unexplainable change is the difference between two Census counts that cannot be explained by demographic factors of population change. Negative unexplainable change occurs when the explainable components of the increase are larger than the total intercensal difference.
c. Proportions calculated as a proportion of the 2016 Census counts.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0)
See Data downloads Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.3
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016; ABS Registered Births; ABS Registered Deaths.

Changing propensity to identify

Key findings

  • Children of couples where both parents are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin are more likely to be identified than children of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person. The number of children in these families has increased significantly between 2006 and 2016.
  • In families with a couple consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person, children are more likely to be identified if the mother identifies than if the father does.
  • Data suggests that changing propensity to identify may be related to key life events. Specifically, there is a trend of young adults (20-29 years old) no longer identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.


The chapters Change Explained by Demographic Factors and Change Not Explained by Demographic Factors found that 21.4% of the 100,803 person increase in Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016 cannot be accounted for by demographic factors such as births, deaths and overseas migration.

This component of the increase represents population change that may be explained by factors such as: changing fertility rates; the impact on child identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons partnering with non-Indigenous persons; and changes in the propensity of people to identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin between Censuses.

This chapter will:

  • Explore the impact of changing family structures and changing fertility rates across Census cycles.
  • Analyse changing propensity to identify by looking at family dynamics, changes in the Indigenous status of children, and whether a person's propensity to identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin varies across life stages.
     

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couple families

Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, the number of couples where one or both partners identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander increased by 34.8%, from 67,288 in 2011 to 90,682 in 2016.

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples where both partners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander has fallen to 21.8% in 2016 with couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person at 78.2%.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couple families

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couple family is one where one or both partners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

A family is defined in the Census as two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who are usually present in the same household. Each separately identified couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship forms the basis of a family.

A couple is defined as two people who were present on Census night who have a relationship of husband, wife, or partner.

An Indigenous and non-Indigenous Partnership Couple is a family where only one partner identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and the other partner is non-Indigenous.

Persons who did not answer the Indigenous status question are excluded from this analysis which means this analysis will under-represent the true numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couple families.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous partnership couples

In 1996, 64.3% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples were couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person.

In the 20 years since 1996, these couples have made up an ever-increasing proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples. Over this period, in both the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania, couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person have accounted for a consistently high proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples. In the Northern Territory, the proportion of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person has remained consistently low. In all other jurisdictions, couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person have accounted for a growing share of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.

4.1 Indigenous and non-Indigenous partnership couples by state and territory(a), 1996-2016(b)

Download
  1. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  3. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016

Download
  1. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016

Download
  1. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016

Download
  1. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016

Download
  1. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016

Download
  1. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016

Download
  1. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016

Download
  1. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016

Download
  1. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016

In 2016, couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person made up 87.1% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples in Non-Remote areas and just 26.8% of couples in Remote areas. Couples residing in more Remote areas were more likely to have both partners identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person made up only 14.3% of couples in Very Remote areas compared to 91.6% of couples in Major Cities.

There is a relationship between areas with high rates of couples with one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person and areas with high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander intercensal population growth. Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, Non-Remote areas saw significant growth (22.8%) while Remote areas only grew slightly (2.0%). Over the same period, the number of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person increased much faster in Non-Remote areas than Remote areas (36.5% compared to 8.9%).

4.2 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples(a)(b), by remoteness, 2016

 RemoteNon-RemoteAustralia(c)
Indigenous status of coupleno.%no.%no.%
Both partners of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
12 548
73.3
12 764
12.9
25 311
21.8
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Partnership Couples(d)
4 587
26.8
86 100
87.1
90 682
78.2
Only male partner of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
2 097
12.2
41 622
42.1
43 728
37.7
Only female partner of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
2 486
14.5
44 472
45.0
46 956
40.5
Total Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander couples
17 130
100.0
98 861
100.0
115 992
100.0
a. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes couples who are married or in a de facto relationship. Excludes same-sex couples, lone parents and couples in which one partner was absent on Census night.
c. Includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address.
d. Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.2
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016
 

Fertility rates

As discussed in Change Explained by Demographic Factors, 0-4 year olds made up the majority of the intercensal increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses (72.7%). They also contributed 10.4% of the difference between the 2016 Estimated Resident Population and the 2016 Population Projections (Change Explained by Demographic Factors).

Possible explanations for this increase include:

  • A higher fertility rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females between 2011 and 2016 than observed between 2006 and 2011.
  • An increased propensity for parents to identify their children as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the 2016 Census than in the 2011 Census.


To determine whether the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fertility rate was higher in 2011-2016 than in 2006-2011, we can examine estimated fertility rates using data on children ever born from the Census.

The number of children ever born to a female is a measure of her lifetime fertility experience up to the point at which the Census was collected. Whilst this is not an indicator of current levels of fertility, it is a reliable measure of completed fertility of women between 40 and 49 years as we assume that almost all women have had all of their children by the time they reach that age range.

There were no significant changes in the fertility levels for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the older age groups (40-44 and 45-49 years) between the intercensal periods 2006-2011 and 2011-2016. In fact, the average number of children ever born across all age groups decreased during these periods.

4.3 Average number of children ever born, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females(a), 2006-2016

 200620112016
Age group (years)Average no. per female
15-19
0.16
0.13
0.09
20-24
0.85
0.76
0.61
25-29
1.73
1.59
1.38
30-34
2.38
2.33
2.08
35-39
2.74
2.73
2.59
40-44
2.84
2.82
2.77
45-49
2.92
2.84
2.79
15-49 years
1.78
1.70
1.57
a. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.3
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016
 

The average number of children ever born to females in couples varies according to couple type. Females in couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person reported having fewer children on average than females in couples where both partners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. This data should be interpreted with caution as it is not possible to be certain that a female’s partner on Census night is the partner with which they had their children.

4.4 Average number of children ever born, females in couple families, 2016(a)

 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Partnership CouplesBoth Partners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderBoth Partners Identify as Non-Indigenous(b)
Age group (years)Average no. per female
15-19
0.33
0.59
0.22
20-24
0.67
1.26
0.38
25-29
1.24
2.06
0.70
30-34
1.91
2.78
1.32
35-39
2.40
3.28
1.88
40-44
2.55
3.38
2.11
45-49
2.53
3.37
2.15
15-49 years
1.91
2.64
1.60
a. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Excludes persons who did not answer the Indigenous status question

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.4
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

Parent-child identification

The Census Household Form is usually completed by a parent/guardian on behalf of a child and hence making decisions about how their children respond to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander question. This may mean that a child is identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or non-Indigenous depending on which parent or guardian completed the form in each Census.

Changing custodial relationships and significant life course events such as leaving the parental home may also have an impact on how parents of children respond to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin question.

In 2016, most (92.5%) children with at least one parent who identified as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person were also identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. There were 12,854 (7.5%) children with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent that were identified as non-Indigenous.

It is notable that 14.5% of children with only an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander father and 6.1% of children with only an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mother were identified as non-Indigenous persons in 2016.

While families where both parents identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander are more likely to identify their children, the number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children living in those families has decreased by 5.7% since 2006. Notably, over the same time period, the number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children with only a father of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin increased by 48.4%. Since children with male parents who identified seem less likely to be identified than female parents, this may contribute to variability in the rates of identification.

In families with couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person and with children, identification rates of children with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mother or father only were 90.2% and 84.1% respectively. Children of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander fathers remain less likely to be identified than the children of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mothers, but the gap is much narrower than that observed for all children. This could be a result of the larger number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with one female parent.

4.5 Indigenous status of children aged 0-14 years, by Indigenous status of parent, 2006-2016(a)

 200620112016Intercensal change in Census Counts 2006-2016
ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILD
 %%%%
One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin (b)
91.2
91.0
91.3
34.6
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
84.8
85.2
85.5
48.4
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
93.8
93.5
93.9
29.6
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
98.3
98.2
99.0
-5.7
Total
92.8
92.5
92.5
25.1
NON-INDIGENOUS CHILD(c)
 %%%%
One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin (b)
8.8
9.0
8.7
33.5
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
15.2
14.8
14.5
40.8
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
6.3
6.5
6.1
26.0
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
1.7
1.8
1.0
-41.5
Total
7.2
7.5
7.5
29.5
Total children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent
137 304
156 378
172 190
25.4
a. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes lone parents.
c. Includes Indigenous status not stated.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.5
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016
 

Parent-child identification in couple and lone parent families

Analysing identification patterns by family composition shows that lone parents identify their children at similar rates to couples where both partners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. In 2016, 96.6% of children in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander one parent families identified their children. In couple families with children, nearly all children with two Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parents were also identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin (99.0%).

4.6 Indigenous status of children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent(a)(b), by family composition, 2016

 Couple family with childrenOne parent familyTotal
ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILD
 %%%
One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
87.2
. .
91.3
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
84.1
94.9
85.5
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
90.2
96.7
93.9
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
99.0
. .
99.0
Total
90.3
96.6
92.5
NON-INDIGENOUS CHILD(c)
 %%%
One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
12.8
. .
8.7
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
15.9
5.1
14.5
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
9.8
3.3
6.1
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
1.0
. .
1.0
Total
9.7
3.5
7.5
Total children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent
110 171
62 016
172 190
a. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes lone parents.
c. Includes Indigenous status not stated.
. . not applicable

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.6
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

Parent-child identification by age of child

Older children of mixed-parent couples are less likely to be identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander than younger children. Notably, this is only for children of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person where the father identifies as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. For children of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person where the mother identifies as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rates are fairly consistent over the three age groups. This pattern was also observed in the 2011 Census.

As children aged 5-14 are the age-cohort with the largest contribution to the unexplained increase Change Not Explained by Demographic Factors, this suggests that unexplained growth in these age groups is not being caused by delayed identification of younger children.

4.7 Children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent (a)(b), by Indigenous status and age of child, 2016

 0-4 years5-9 years10-14 years
ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILD
 %%%
One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
92.1
91.1
90.5
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
89.2
84.7
82.2
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
93.4
93.9
94.4
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
98.9
99.0
99.0
Total
93.2
92.4
91.9
NON-INDIGENOUS CHILD(c)
 %%%
One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
7.9
8.9
9.5
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
10.8
15.3
17.8
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
6.5
6.1
5.6
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
1.2
1.0
0.9
Total
6.8
7.6
8.1
Total children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent
58 528
59 916
53 573
a. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes lone parents.
c. Includes Indigenous status not stated.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.7
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

​​​​​​​Parent-child identification by remoteness

Children in Remote areas were more likely to be identified as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander child. While Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander fathers were less likely to identify their children than Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mothers in both Remote and Non-Remote areas, this difference is smaller in Remote areas.

While 84.9% of children in Non-Remote areas with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander father were identified as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin in the Census, this increased to 92.9% in Remote areas.

4.8 Children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent (a)(b), by remoteness, family composition and Indigenous status of child, 2016

 Non-remoteRemoteAustralia(c)
ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILD
 %%%
One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
90.6
96.7
91.3
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
84.9
92.9
85.5
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
93.4
97.7
93.9
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
98.1
99.7
99.0
Total
91.3
98.2
92.5
NON-INDIGENOUS CHILD(d)
 %%%
One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
9.4
3.3
8.7
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
15.1
7.2
14.5
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
6.6
2.3
6.1
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
1.9
0.3
1.0
Total
8.7
1.8
7.5
Total children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent
141 480
30 712
172 190
a. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Includes lone parents.
c. Includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address.
d. Includes Indigenous status not stated.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.8
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016
 

Changing propensity to identify over time

Using the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD), we are able to see how peoples’ responses change to the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander question between the 2011 and 2016 Census.

Identification in the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD)

For this analysis, three identification groups have been created:
 

  • Newly-identified – persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016 and non-Indigenous in 2011
  • Consistently-identified – persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in both 2011 and 2016
  • Previously-identified - persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011 and non-Indigenous in 2016

Excluded from the ACLD for the purposes of this analysis are persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2011, and persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2016. These two groups account for a relatively small number of ACLD records (13,882 in total).

For further information on the ACLD, see Technical Note 3 – Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD) on the Methodology page.

4.9 Indigenous status identification change, Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016

Identification Group2011 Indigenous Status2016 Indigenous StatusACLD Person CountsACLD Person Estimates
Consistently identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderAboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderAboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
18 606
572 375
Previously identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderAboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderNon-Indigenous
1 710
40 456
Newly identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderNon-IndigenousAboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
4 146
120 461
Consistently identified as non-IndigenousNon-IndigenousNon-Indigenous
886 024
19 928 611
OtherAboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderNot Stated
176
4 586
 Not StatedAboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
308
9 188
 Non-IndigenousNot Stated
6 901
179 543
 Not StatedNon-Indigenous
9 201
213 330
 Not StatedNot Stated
440
11 478
Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.9
Source: Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016.
 

There are two types of persons with a response of ‘not stated’ to the Indigenous status question on the ACLD file: persons who did not answer the Indigenous status question and persons whose records were imputed because of dwelling non-response.

For the purposes of this analysis, records with an unknown Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status in either year have been excluded. This includes persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2011, and persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2016. For detailed analysis of persons with an unknown Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status see Technical Note 1 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Status and the Census.

There are 17,026 linked records with at least one non-response to the Indigenous status question, either in 2011, 2016 or both. The majority of these (54.0%) were non-Indigenous people in 2016 while a further 2.6% were consistently ‘not stated’.

Identification change by remoteness

The chapter Change Not Explained by Demographic Factors, showed the unexplained increase was almost exclusively occurring in Non-Remote Australia. This is supported by the ACLD analysis, which showed that 96.3% of people who newly identified lived in Non-Remote Australia in 2016. Previously identifying persons also primarily lived in Non-Remote Australia (94.9%). This reinforces that changing propensity to identify has a very small impact in Remote Australia.

Although the proportional changes in the newly identified and previously identified populations are broadly similar, the numbers of newly-identified persons are much higher than the numbers of previously identified persons.

Download
  1. Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2011 and identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016.
  2. Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2016 and previously identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011.

Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016

Life course identification

While a person can start, stop or continue to identify at any age, it is reasonable to expect that changes in propensity to identify could be affected by major life events. One way to explore this further is to examine the age distribution of the three identification groups. While the age distribution of the consistently identified and newly identified population is similar there are observable differences for the previously-identified population. Persons who previously identified are more likely to be aged 20-24 and 25-29 years old in 2016. This age group coincides with the age that many young people leave the parental home and may suggest that, as these persons are completing their own Census forms for the first time, they are identifying differently. This may be a factor in the negative unexplained change observed in the 20-24 year age group in Overview of the Increase.

Download
  1. Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2011 and identfied as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016.
  2. Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2016 and previously identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011.

Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016

Parent-child identification

Parental characteristics on a child’s Census record are taken from family information reported by people in the household on Census night. This means that in cases of separation, re-marriage, divorce, adoption or fostering, the parental relationships captured by the Census are not necessarily biological relationships. In these situations, we can expect differences between how children and parents identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander persons.

Children aged 0-4 in 2016 were born in the intercensal period and, as such, they do not have a 2011 record to be linked to their 2016 Census record. Accordingly, the analysis in this section concentrates on children who were aged 5-14 years in 2016.

In the 2011-2016 ACLD, most (93.9%) children aged 5-14 years whose parents both identified as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin in 2016, consistently identified between the two Censuses. Almost all the remaining children whose parents were both Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, newly identified in 2016 (4.5%). This suggests that the presence of two Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parents in the family is related to children identifying or being identified. Similar trends were also observed in the 2006-2011 ACLD.

Children who have identifying mothers are more likely to be identified than child with identifying fathers. Over three-quarters (76.6%) of children with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mother were consistently identified compared to 66.2% of children with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander father. One in ten (10.3%) children with only an identifying father were non-Indigenous in both 2011 or 2016.

One in five children with only an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mother (18.0%) or only an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander father (20.7%) were newly identified in 2016. The vast majority of children (95.8%) with no identifying parent were consistently non-Indigenous. Approximately 30,500 children (1.1%) were consistently identified as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child despite having no identifying parent in 2016.

4.12 Indigenous status of children aged 5-14 years by Indigenous status of parents, Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016

 Consistently identifyingNewly identifying(a)Previously identifying(b)Consistently non-IndigenousTotal children aged 5-14 years(c)
Indigenous status of parent/guardian%%%%%
Father identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
66.2
20.7
0.6
10.3
100.0
Mother identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
76.6
18.0
0.4
2.7
100.0
Both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
93.9
4.5
100.0
No identifying parent
1.1
0.3
0.2
95.8
100.0
Total children aged 5-14 years(c)
147 446
31 454
6 210
2 566 620
2 819 334
a. Excludes children who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2011 and identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016.
b. Excludes children who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2016 and previously identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011.
c. Includes children whose Indigenous status was not provided in both ACLD datasets, persons whose Indigenous status has changed from non-Indigenous to not provided, and persons whose Indigenous status was previously not provided and has changed to non-Indigenous.
— nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.12
Source: Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016.
 

Analysis of the changing identification of parents in the 2011-2016 ACLD reveals that there is consistency between how parents identify themselves and how they identify their children.

Generally, a child’s Indigenous status changes or stays the same depending on changes in their parents’ status. This trend is stronger for female parents than for male parents, although the number of applicable female parents on the ACLD for identifying children was almost twice the number of applicable male parents.

The majority of consistently-identified children in 2016 had consistently identifying female (65.6%) or male (59.1%) parents. A newly identified child is also more likely to have a newly-identified female parent (51.2%)

Children who were newly or previously identified were just as likely to have a non-Indigenous male parent (53.6% and 51.5%) than an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander male parent. While the majority of newly identified children have newly identified mothers (51.2%), the previously identified children were more likely to have a non-Indigenous female parent (49.2%) than a previously identified female parent (41.6%).

4.13 Indigenous status of children aged 5-14 years by Indigenous status of parents, Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016

 Consistently identifyingNewly identifying(a)Previously identifying(b)
 EstimateEstimateEstimate
Female parent consistently identified
83 688
1 542
281
Female parent newly identified(a)
2 457
14 184
Female parent previously identified(b)
2 199
2 092
Female parent consistently non-Indigenous
38 341
11 721
2 473
Total children aged 5-14 years with an applicable female parent(c)
127 604
27 731
5 027
Male parent consistently identified
38 281
917
218
Male parent newly identified(a)
1 070
6,459
58
Male parent previously identified(b)
1 242
1 160
Male parent consistently non-Indigenous
23 690
9,083
1 418
Total children aged 5-14 years with an applicable male parent(c)(d)
64 777
16 945
2 756
 %%%
Female parent consistently identified
65.6
5.6
5.6
Female parent newly identified(a)
1.9
51.2
Female parent previously identified(b)
1.7
41.6
Female parent consistently non-Indigenous
30.0
42.3
49.2
Total children aged 5-14 years with an applicable female parent(c)
100.0
100.0
100.0
Male parent consistently identified
59.1
5.4
7.9
Male parent newly identified(a)
1.7
38.1
2.1
Male parent previously identified(b)
1.9
42.1
Male parent consistently non-Indigenous
36.6
53.6
51.5
Total children aged 5-14 years with an applicable male parent(c)(d)
100.0
100.0
100.0
a. Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2011 and identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016.
.b. Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2016 and previously identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011.
c. Excludes children with a male or female parent who were not applicable. A parent who was not present at the time of the Census is not considered an applicable parent and is excluded from this analysis. This includes children of single parents, as their second parent will be coded as not applicable.
d. Includes children with applicable parents who did not respond to the Indigenous status question in either 2011, 2016 or both.
— nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.13
Source: Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016.

Impact of intercensal change on selected characteristics

Key findings

  • Analysis of changes in population characteristics demonstrates the complexity of attempting to control for changing propensity to identify on the measurement of population characteristics. There appears to be some impact of changing propensity to identify on some population characteristics presented in this chapter.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Major Cities (where most of the 2011-2016 population increase occurs) are the main contributors to intercensal increases in year 12 attainment, non-school qualifications, labour force status and personal weekly income.


As discussed in Overview of the Increase, the growth in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population between 2011 and 2016 is not solely attributable to demographic factors such as births, deaths and migration. This complicates analysis of changing socio-economic characteristics for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, particularly for characteristics used to monitor progress against Closing the Gap targets. The following analysis uses the Census and the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD) to consider whether changes in identification are impacting outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in the following key characteristics:

Identification in the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD)

For this analysis, three identification groups have been created:

  • Newly identified – persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016 and non-Indigenous in 2011
  • Consistently identified – persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in both 2011 and 2016
  • Previously identified – persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011 and non-Indigenous in 2016

Excluded from the ACLD for the purposes of this analysis are persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2011, and persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2016. These two groups account for a relatively small number of ACLD records (13,882 in total). For detailed analysis on changing propensity to identify in the ACLD please see Changing Propensity to Identify.

The Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD) uses a five per cent sample of records from the three most recent Censuses – 2006, 2011 and 2016 – to create a representative longitudinal sample for 2006-2011 and 2011-2016. A three wave release of the ACLD is planned for the future, combining data from the 2006, 2011 and 2016 Censuses to enable analysis of longer-term transitions. Once this dataset is available, it is possible that the characteristics of the three identification groups will change. The ABS intends to expand on the ACLD analysis presented in this chapter when the three wave release is available.

For further information on the ACLD, see Technical Note 3 – Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset on the Methodology page.

Year 12 educational attainment

Year 12 (or equivalent) attainment is used in measuring the Closing the Gap target to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment for 20-24 year olds by 2020¹.

Between 2006 and 2016, there has been a steady rise in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with Year 12 or equivalent as their highest year of school completed. In 2006, 20.1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 15 years and over had completed Year 12 or equivalent. This rose to 25.0% in 2011 and 31.3% in 2016.

Attainment of Year 12 or equivalent varies with remoteness, with lower attainment rates observed in more remote areas. The largest percentage increase between 2006 and 2016 of 12.1 percentage points was observed in Major Cities (from 27.4% to 39.5%). Rates of increase for other remoteness areas rose between 9 and 10 percentage points over the same period. Major Cities have consistently recorded higher rates of Year 12 attainment than the rest of Australia between 2006 and 2016.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Excludes persons still in secondary school.
  3. Includes Remote and Very Remote Australia.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

Intercensal changes in Year 12 attainment

In 2016, there were an additional 42,321 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reporting Year 12 or equivalent attainment compared to 2011, just over half of whom were female (54.4%). Females in Major Cities were the main contributor to the increase in Year 12 attainment with 28.3% of the growth in Year 12 attainment coming from this group.

Major Cities across Australia accounted for just over half (52.1%) of the increase in Year 12 attainment between 2011 and 2016. In particular, people living in Major Cities aged 15-24 years accounted for over a third (35.5%) of the overall increase in Year 12 attainment in the same period. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of persons living in Major Cities who had completed Year 12 has increased by 148.1%. This was significantly higher than the rate of growth in Remote Australia (98.4%).

Increases in Year 12 attainment were lower in Outer Regional than Inner Regional Australia (37.3% compared to 63.0%) between 2011 and 2016. These differences suggest that growth in Year 12 attainment in Outer Regional Australia is reflecting actual increases in Year 12 attainment whereas in Inner Regional Australia, where there was positive unexplainable growth, changes in Year 12 attainment may be attributable a combination of intercensal population growth and actual attainment.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Excludes persons still in secondary school.
  3. Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
  4. Includes Remote and Very Remote Australia.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016.
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

Most (71.5%) of the increase in Year 12 attainment between 2011 and 2016 came from people aged 15-24. This is not unexpected as this age group are most likely to be completing secondary school in the intercensal years.

To address the impact of natural attainment on analysis of increases in Year 12 attainment by age, the following analysis removes the 15-24 year age cohort. Once this cohort is removed, analysis reveals that the majority (70.3% or 12,065 persons) of the increase in Year 12 attainment for persons aged 25 years and over is driven by the 25-44 year age cohort, and tapers off with age.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Excludes persons still in secondary school.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

Year 12 attainment in the ACLD

Young people aged 15-24 years recorded the highest rate of Year 12 attainment across all three identification groups, the highest being for previously-identified persons aged 20-24 years (61.1%).

The Closing the Gap target for Year 12 or equivalent attainment focuses on the completion of Year 12 or an equivalent attainment amongst 20-24 year olds. Comparing Year 12 attainment for this age group in the consistently-identified population in the 2006-2011 and 2011-2016 ACLD is the most accurate way of determining whether there are actual improvements occurring in Year 12 or equivalent attainment.

The Year 12 attainment rate for consistently-identified 20-24 years olds in the 2011-2016 ACLD was substantially higher than in the 2006-2011 ACLD (52.4% compared to 41.4%). Over the same period, Year 12 attainment for previously-identified 20-24 years olds also increased (from 55.0% to 61.1%). The newly-identified population however shows a different trend.

Year 12 attainment for newly-identified 20-24 year olds was lower in the 2011-2016 ACLD (55.4%) than the 2006-2011 ACLD (58.9%). This may be influenced by changes in propensity to identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and would benefit from further analysis on the 2006-2016 linked ACLD file when it is available. Refer to Changing Propensity to Identify for a discussion on the propensity of young adults to identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

Year 12 attainment for the consistently-identified population in both the 2006-2011 and 2011-2016 ACLD suggests that improvements in Year 12 attainment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people observed in the Census are occurring, particularly in the target 20-24 year age group. These improvements may be influenced by the intercensal increase in Major Cities and the higher rates of Year 12 attainment in Major Cities compared with other parts of Australia.

5.4 Year 12 or equivalent attainment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 years and over(a), 2006-2016

 2006-2011 ACLD(b)2011-2016 ACLD(c) 
 Newly-identifiedConsistently-identifiedPreviously-identifiedNewly-identifiedConsistently-identifiedPreviously-identified2016 Census(d)
 %%%%%%%
15-19 years
35.6
28.1
45.8
48.0
41.2
53.3
36.8
20-24 years
58.9
41.4
55.0
55.4
52.4
61.1
46.9
25-29 years
47.1
35.2
49.7
50.4
41.6
58.7
40.1
30-34 years
48.8
33.1
64.6
46.5
39.0
49.0
37.4
35-39 years
42.4
30.9
55.8
43.0
34.9
50.5
35.3
40-44 years
30.8
23.2
30.8
48.2
34.1
49.1
33.5
45-49 years
23.5
15.8
26.1
30.6
24.6
29.4
24.5
50-54 years
19.1
15.1
31.0
20.5
16.8
20.3
18.0
55-59 years
25.4
12.5
19.9
27.8
13.9
33.8
17.0
60-64 years
21.8
9.4
24.8
20.0
15.9
22.5
15.1
65+
12.9
7.3
17.0
14.1
9.3
17.1
10.3
Total
32.4
26.6
39.0
39.4
32.7
45.0
31.3
Total number of persons aged 15 years and over(e)
33 448
354 584
17 561
80 495
391 250
32 491
265 820
a. Excludes persons still in secondary school.
b. Based on highest year of school completed in 2011.
c. Based on highest year of school completed in 2016.
d. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
e. Includes persons who did not go to school and persons whose highest year of school completed was not stated.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016. ACLD cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Impact of Intercensal Change on Selected Characteristics, Table 4.3
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016; Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2006-2011; 2011-2016.
 

Attainment of a non-school qualification

The Census collects information about a person’s highest completed non-school qualification². This includes Certificate and Diploma level qualifications as well as tertiary qualifications (Bachelor degree and above). The analysis below refers to a person’s highest level of non-school qualification.

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25 years and over with a non-school qualification has risen steadily from 78,875 in 2006 to 108,118 in 2011 and 152,245 in 2016. Over this period, the age and remoteness distribution of people with a non-school qualification has remained consistent, with young people aged 25-29 years old contributing most to the observed increases.

Across all remoteness areas, more people had Certificate III level qualifications than any other non-school qualification – a trend that has remained consistent across the 2006, 2011 and 2016 Censuses. Nearly all Remoteness areas recorded a percentage point increase across all types of non-school qualifications over 2011-2016. The largest percentage point increases were in Major Cities and Inner Regional Australia.

Intercensal change in attainment of non-school qualifications

It is possible that identification is having an impact on the 2011-2016 increase in non-school qualifications. That Major Cities continue to be the main source of increases in non-school qualifications is most likely a combination of the concentration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population growth in Major Cities and the location of vocational and tertiary institutions.

The distribution of the increase in non-school qualifications across males and females in 2011-2016 is similar to the increase observed in 2006-2011. Females continue to have higher completion rates across all levels of non-school qualification than males except for Certificate III level, and are obtaining non-school qualifications at a faster rate than males (see Educational Attendance and Attainment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Persons in: Census of Population and Housing: Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2016 [cat. no. 2076.0]).

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Includes Postgraduate degrees and Graduate Certificate/Diploma.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016.
Source(s): Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

As was observed for Year 12 attainment, when the increase in non-school qualification attainment of 25 year olds and above is distributed across ages, the youngest cohort, persons aged 25-29, are the largest source of the increase (56.9%) across every qualification. This was also observed between 2006 and 2011 and is influenced by the natural progression of this age cohort through the education system.

When persons aged 25-29 years are removed from the age cohort analysis, a clearer picture of the increases in non-school qualification attainment by age emerges. As people age, they move into higher levels of education. This is particularly prevalent at the Postgraduate and Bachelor degree level suggesting that part of the increases in non-school qualification attainment between 2011 and 2016 may be partially driven by people completing their non-school qualifications and moving onto further study.

5.6 Non-school qualification by age cohort, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 30 years and over, 2011-2016(a)(b)

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated as a proportion across age groups.
  3. Includes graduate diploma and graduate certificate.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated as a proportion across age groups.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated as a proportion across age groups.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated as a proportion across age groups.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated as a proportion across age groups.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated as a proportion across age groups.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Attainment of non-school qualifications in the ACLD

Between the 2006-2011 ACLD and 2011-2016 ACLD there were observed improvements in non-school qualification attainment in both the consistently and newly-identified populations. However, the newly-identified population has a higher rate of non-school qualification attainment than the consistently-identified population. This is likely influenced by the greater proportion of newly-identified persons with a non-school qualification who were living in Major Cities (54.6%) and is consistent with the overall distribution of non-school qualifications across remoteness areas between the 2011 and 2016 Census.

5.7 Highest level of non-school qualification, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 25 years and over, Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2006-2016

 Newly-identifiedConsistently-identified
 2006-11(a)2011-16(b)Percentage point difference2006-11(a)2011-16(b)Percentage point difference
 %%Difference%%Difference
Postgraduate Level(c)
4.2
6.0
1.8
3.8
4.4
0.6
Bachelor Degree Level
10.9
14.7
3.8
13.0
11.9
–1.1
Advanced Diploma/ Diploma Level
12.8
15.8
3.0
12.5
14.7
2.2
Certificate IV
6.7
9.5
2.8
7.3
9.1
1.8
Certificate III
39.6
34.7
–4.9
29.9
29.8
–0.1
Certificate I/II
1.9
3.8
1.9
5.9
5.7
–0.2
Total persons aged 25 years and over with a non-school qualification(d)
12 853
35 606
. .
104 200
144 897
. .
a. Based on highest level of non-school qualification in 2011.
b. Includes graduate diploma and graduate certificate.
c. Based on highest level of non-school qualification in 2016.
d. Includes level of education not stated, certificate not further defined and inadequately described.
. . Not applicable

Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Impact of Intercensal Change on Selected Characteristics, Table 4.6
Source: Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2006-2011; 2011-2016.
 

Intercensal changes in Certificate and Diploma level qualifications

There was an 80.0% increase between 2011 and 2016 in the number of persons with Certificate IV level qualifications, and a 73.4% increase in the number of persons with an Advanced Diploma/Diploma level qualification (73.4%).

The contribution of Advanced Diploma/Diploma level studies to the overall increase in non-school qualifications was up by 5.7 percentage points from 15.0% over 2006-2011 to 20.7% over 2011-2016.

The growth in Certificate IV and Advanced Diploma/Diploma studies coincides with a reduction in the rate of growth of persons with Certificate III and Certificate II level qualifications. This suggests that more people are completing higher levels of non-school qualifications. For example, persons who may have completed a Certificate III at the time of the 2011 Census may have since completed a Diploma or Advanced Diploma.

Major Cities were the greatest contributor to increases across all Certificate and Diploma level qualifications. This is most apparent at the Advanced Diploma and Diploma level where Major Cities accounted for 52.1% of the increase between 2011 and 2016.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Includes Remote and Very Remote Australia.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016.
Source(s): Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Attainment of Certificate and Diploma level qualifications in the ACLD

In the ACLD, between 2006 and 2016, the consistently-identified population recorded increases in attainment at the Certificate IV level (up 1.8 percentage points) and Advanced Diploma/Diploma level (up 2.2 percentage points). The newly-identified population recorded increases in attainment across all non-school qualification levels between 2006 and 2016 except for Certificate III (down from 39.6% in 2006-2011 to 34.7% in 2011-2016). There was a substantial increase in attainment of qualifications at the Diploma level and above, rising from 27.9% to 36.5%.

Intercensal changes in tertiary qualifications

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25 years and over with tertiary qualifications has risen between 2011 and 2016. There was a 46.9% increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 25 years and over with a Bachelor degree and a 76.5% increase in the number of people with a Postgraduate degree.

The effect of remoteness is particularly pronounced at the Bachelor and Postgraduate degree level. As with Certificate and Diploma level studies, Major Cities were the biggest contributor to increases in university level qualifications between 2011 and 2016. This may be a side effect of the concentration of Australia’s university campuses in Major City areas combined with overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population growth in Major Cities.

Females in Major Cities accounted for over a third of the increases in Bachelor Degree and Postgraduate Degree level qualifications – outpacing their male counterparts. As population growth in Major Cities between 2011 and 2016 was fairly similar for males and females, this is likely reflecting an actual increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females in Major Cities undertaking and completing non-school qualifications.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Remote includes Remote and Very Remote Australia.
  3. Includes Postgraduate degrees and Graduate Certificate/Diploma.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016.
Source(s): Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Attainment of tertiary qualifications in the ACLD

There was a small increase in the number of consistently-identified people with a Bachelor degree (up 3,624 people) however the proportion of consistently-identified people with a Bachelor degree in the 2011-2016 ACLD was lower than the 2006-2011 ACLD (11.9% compared to 13.0%). This change coincides with an increase in the proportion of consistently-identified people with a Postgraduate qualification (3.8% in 2006-2011 to 4.4% in 2011-2016).

Labour force status

The Closing the Gap employment related target aims to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade (by 2018)³.

In the Census, respondents are asked questions about: whether they worked last week; the hours worked; whether they were looking for work; and their availability to start work. These responses were used to determine if a person was employed, unemployed or not in the labour force.

The Census and the Labour Force Survey both collect information about labour market activity of persons aged 15 years and over. While both collections measure concepts related to employment, unemployment and being outside of the labour force, there are a number of differences between them. The fact sheet The 2016 Census and the Labour Force Survey outlines the key uses of each collection, how the collections differ, and why the statistics produced in each of these two collections are not directly comparable.

Labour force status and the Community Development Programme

In the 2006 and 2011 Census, participants in the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) were classified as employed. This scheme has since been replaced by the Community Development Programme (CDP). People participating only in this programme are not considered to be employed for the 2016 Census. For more information on this change please see the Community Development Programme Participation (CDPP) Data Quality Statement.

For the purposes of the 2006 and 2011 Census analysis presented below, CDP participants have had their labour force status updated to unemployed. This change most impacts data for Remote and Very Remote Australia.

It is not currently possible to make the same adjustments to ACLD data. As a result, ACLD analysis in this section has been limited to the 2011-2016 ACLD dataset and has been derived based on a person’s labour force status in 2016.

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who were in the labour force increased by 44,464 people or 25.0%. Over half (58.6%) of this increase came from people living in Major Cities. During the same period, the number of people not in the labour force also increased (up 34,247 people).

Changes in the labour force population have translated to small percentage point changes in labour force status in the Census between 2011 and 2016.

5.10 Labour force status and selected labour market indicators by sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 years and over, 2011-2016(a)

 MalesFemalesPersons
 201120162011201620112016
 %%%%%%
Employed
43.6
44.5
37.9
40.6
40.7
42.5
Unemployed
11.8
10.7
8.4
8.2
10.0
9.4
Not in the labour force
39.4
40.9
49.0
47.6
44.4
44.3
Labour force participation rate(b)
55.4
55.2
46.3
48.8
50.7
51.9
Unemployment rate(c)
21.4
19.4
18.1
16.9
19.8
18.2
 no.no.no.no.no.no.
Total number of persons in the labour force
94 160
115 422
84 009
107 216
178 172
222 636
Total number of persons not in the labour force
66 971
85 550
88 920
104 587
155 885
190 132
Total number of persons aged 15 years and over(d)
169 813
209 112
181 470
219 663
351 281
428 777
a. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Labour force participation rate is the number of employed and unemployed persons as a proportion of the total population aged 15 years and over.
c. Unemployment rate is the number of unemployed persons as a proportion of the total labour force population.
d. Includes labour force status not stated.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Impact of Intercensal Change on Selected Characteristics, Table 4.8
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016
 

Intercensal changes in labour force composition

Young people aged 15-19 in 2011 who entered the workforce between 2011 and 2016 were the major contributor to changes in labour force status for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. This age group accounted for half of the increase in persons not in the labour force (49.7%) with over three-quarters of 15-19 year olds who were not in the labour force attending some form of educational institution (77.3%).

When the 15-19 year age group is removed from age cohort analysis, the youngest age group – persons aged 20-24 years become the major contributor to changes in labour force status between 2011 and 2016. The number of persons in the labour force after the age of 55 years drops, together with their contribution to overall increases in labour force status.

Employment to population ratio

The employment to population ratio is the number of employed persons aged 15 years and over expressed as a proportion of the total population aged 15 years and over.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment to population ratio has risen slightly from 38.2% in 2006 to 40.7% in 2011 and 42.5% in 2016. Whilst females have a lower employment to population ratio than males, females are increasingly participating in the labour force.

Remoteness plays a significant role in the proportion of people aged 15 years and over who are employed. Whilst the employment to population ratio has increased for all remoteness areas between 2006 and 2016, persons in Remote areas remain far less likely to be employed. In Major Cities, the employment to population ratio was 50.4% in 2016, whereas in Very Remote areas, it was 27.0%.

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. For the purposes of time series, 2006 and 2011 Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) participants have had their labour force status updated to unemployed.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing 2006-2016

Employment to population ratio in the ACLD

Of all three identification groups in the 2011-2016 ACLD, the employment to population ratio was significantly lower for consistently-identified persons (43.3%) compared to newly and previously-identified persons (54.3% and 55.8% respectively).

5.12 Employment to population ratio, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 years and over, 2011-2016(a)

 2011-2016 ACLD(b)Census
 Consistently-identifiedNewly-identifiedPreviously-identified2011(c)2011(d)2016
 %%%%%%
Employment to population ratio
43.3
54.3
55.8
42.0(c)
40.7(d)
42.5
Total number of persons aged 15 years and over(e)
424 990
88 832
34 314
351 281
351 281
428 777
a. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
b. Based on labour force status in 2016.
c. Not adjusted to account for changes to the labour force status of CDEP participants.
d. Adjusted to account for changes to the labour force status of CDEP participants.
e. Includes labour force status not stated.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016. ACLD cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Impact of Intercensal Change on Selected Characteristics, Table 4.8 and 4.10
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016; Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016.
 

Labour force participation rate

The labour force participation rate is the number of people who are in the labour force (either employed or unemployed) aged 15 years and over expressed as a proportion of the total population aged 15 years and over. The labour force participation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has remained relatively stable between 2006 and 2016 (51.2% in 2006 to 51.9% in 2016).

There is significant variability in labour force participation rates (and the rate at which is changes between Censuses) across Remoteness areas between 2006 and 2016. In Very Remote Australia, the labour force participation rate has fluctuated significantly – peaking at 46.2% in 2006 and dropping to 38.1% in 2016.

Download
  1. Labour force participation rate is the number of employed and unemployed persons as a proportion of the total population aged 15 years and over.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016.
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

The labour force participation rate for females rose 2.5 percentage points between 2011 and 2016, whilst for males it remained relatively stable (down 0.2 percentage points). Looking at the contribution of males compared to females to the increase in the labour force population, it appears as though more women are moving into the labour force.

Labour force participation rate in the ACLD

The labour force participation rate was nearly 10 percentage points higher than the consistently-identified population and similar to that of newly-identified persons.

5.14 Labour force participation rate(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 years and over, 2011-2016(b)

 2011-2016 ACLD(b)Census
 Consistently-identifiedNewly-identifiedPreviously-identified2011(d)2011(e)2016
 %%%%%%
Labour force participation rate
53.7
62.7
63.1
50.7(d)
50.7(e)
51.9
Total number of persons aged 15 years and over(e)
424 990
88 832
34 314
351 281
351 281
428 777
a. Labour force participation rate is the number of employed and unemployed persons as a proportion of the total population aged 15 years and over.
b. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
c. Based on labour force status in 2016.
d. Not adjusted to account for changes to the labour force status of CDEP participants.
e. Adjusted to account for changes to the labour force status of CDEP participants.
f. Includes labour force status not stated.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016. ACLD cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Impact of Intercensal Change on Selected Characteristics, Table 4.8 and 4.10
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016; Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset,-2016.
 

Unemployment rate

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed persons (who are looking for work) aged 15 years and over expressed as a proportion of the total labour force.

The national unemployment rate from the Census for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2016 was 18.2%. This compares with 19.8% in 2011 and 25.3% in 2006. The 2016 unemployment rate was higher for males (19.4%) than females (16.9%) with males recording a higher unemployment rate across all remoteness areas.

As with the employment to population ratio and the labour force participation rate, there are substantial differences in the unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Major Cities compared to those living in Remote and Very Remote Australia. The unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Very Remote Australia (29.1%) in 2016 was double that of Major Cities (14.6%).

Download
  1. Unemployment rate is the number of unemployed persons as a proportion of the total labour force population.
  2. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  3. For the purposes of time series, 2006 and 2011 Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) participants have had their labour force status updated to unemployed.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

Unemployment rate in the ACLD

In the 2011-2016 ACLD, the unemployment rates for the newly and previously-identified population were similar (13.2% compared to 11.8%). Both rates were significantly lower than the unemployment rate in the consistently-identified population (19.4%).

5.16 Unemployment rate(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 years and over, 2011-2016(b)

 2011-2016 ACLD(b)Census
 Consistently-identifiedNewly-identifiedPreviously-identified2011(d)2011(e)2016
 %%%%%%
Unemployment Rate
19.4
13.2
11.8
17.1(d)
19.8(e)
18.2
Total number of persons aged 15 years and over(f)
424 990
88 832
34 314
351 281
351 281
428 777
a. Unemployment rate is the number of unemployed persons as a proportion of the total labour force population.
b. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
c. Based on labour force status in 2016.
d. Not adjusted to account for changes to the labour force status of CDEP participants.
e. Adjusted to account for changes to the labour force status of CDEP participants.
f. Includes labour force status not stated.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016.
See Datacube Impact of Intercensal Change on Selected Characteristics, Table 4.8 and 4.10
ACLD cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016; Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset,-2016.
 

The labour force composition of all three ACLD population groups in the 2011-2016 ACLD dataset reveals differences in the labour force outcomes of consistently-identified persons compared to newly and previously-identified persons. The better labour force outcomes for newly and previously-identified persons is potentially influencing changes in labour force status for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between the 2011 and 2016 Census. However, given that the number of newly and previously-identified persons in the 2011-2016 ACLD is substantially smaller than the number of consistently-identified persons, their degree of influence on changes in labour force status observed in the Census may only be minor.

Personal income

Personal income is closely associated with a person’s engagement in education and training and overall socio-economic living conditions. This analysis will cover two measures of personal income – median personal weekly income and ranged personal weekly income.

Personal weekly income in the Census

Personal weekly income is the total income a person usually receives each week and is collected for all persons aged 15 years and over.

In addition to the Census, data on personal income is available from other ABS sources, such as the Survey of Income and Housing (cat. no. 6553.0) and Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, 2011-2015 (cat. no. 6524.0.55.002). Personal income reported through these sources is not directly comparable with the Census measure.

For detailed information on the differences between income data from the Census, Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, and the Survey of Income and Housing, please see the Total Personal Income (weekly) (INCP) data quality statement.

Personal weekly income

The following analysis has not been adjusted to account for inflation.

Intercensal changes in personal weekly income

The personal weekly income brackets with the greatest increases between 2011 and 2016 were all in the top three income brackets:

  • $2 000 or more (up 105.9%)
  • $1 500-$1 999 (up 82.2%)
  • $1 250-$1 499 (up 50.6%)


This coincides with a decline of 13.0% in the $1-$299 per week income bracket and minimal growth in the $300-$399 per week bracket (up 4.4%).

Noting significant intercensal growth in personal income is a result of inflation, observing the distribution of the increase in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population across all income brackets provides a rich picture of the distribution in changes in personal weekly income.

The personal weekly income bracket with the biggest proportion (38.3%) of the 2011-2016 intercensal increase was $400-$799. A further 18.1% of the intercensal increase contributed to the nil income bracket, mainly driven by young people aged 15-19 years (noting an increase in educational qualifications over the intercensal period means the number of persons in school or studying in this age range is increasing).

When the intercensal increase for each income bracket is distributed across remoteness areas, almost all of the increase in each income bracket came from Major Cities or Inner Regional areas. Major Cities accounted for almost of half of the increases in the three highest income brackets. This partly explains the continued growth in median personal weekly income in Major Cities.

Changes in personal weekly income between 2011 and 2016 were driven by the two Remoteness areas where unexplainable change was greatest – Major Cities and Inner Regional areas. It is therefore likely that in addition to factors such as inflation and labour markets, Remoteness is influencing the changes in personal weekly income observed between 2011 and 2016.

5.17 Distribution of increases in income by remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders 15 and over, 2011-2016(a)(b)

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated including persons who did not state their personal weekly income.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated including persons who did not state their personal weekly income.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated including persons who did not state their personal weekly income.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated including persons who did not state their personal weekly income.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Proportions calculated including persons who did not state their personal weekly income.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Young people aged 15-19 years are responsible for a substantial amount of the population increase across most income brackets, particularly at for the nil (194.4%) and negative income (175.8%) cohorts. In the $400-$799 income bracket, the largest increase in counts came from the 20-24 year old age cohort (44.2% of the overall increase in this bracket). This is most likely a result of this cohort moving into the labour force or transitioning from part time to full time work.

Personal weekly income in the ACLD

The distribution of income in the 2016 Census closely mirrored the distribution for the 2011-2016 consistently-identified population. The distribution of all three ACLD populations was relatively similar, suggesting that identification change does not have a substantial impact on personal weekly income.

5.18 Personal weekly income, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 years and over, 2011-2016

 2011-2016 ACLD(a) 
 Consistently-identifiedNewly-identifiedPreviously-identified2016 Census(b)
 %%%%
Negative income
0.6
1.0
0.6
0.8
Nil income
10.3
10.6
10.0
10.0
$1-$299
21.7
16.4
12.3
20.1
$300-$399
10.8
10.0
9.1
10.4
$400-$799
24.5
26.3
27.2
24.3
$800-$999
6.9
7.9
10.4
6.8
$1,000-$1,249
6.4
7.5
7.1
6.0
$1,250-$1,499
3.5
4.0
4.4
3.7
$1,500-$1,999
4.6
6.2
6.7
4.5
$2,000 or more
3.4
5.1
5.1
3.4
Total(c)
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
a. Based on personal weekly income in 2016.
b. Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
c. Includes not stated.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016.
ACLD cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Impact of Intercensal Change on Selected Characteristics, Table 4.11 and 4.13
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing 2016; Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016.
 

Median personal weekly income

Part of the analysis below includes adjustments to account for inflation.

Median personal weekly income for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over is on the rise. In 2006, median personal weekly income was $278. This rose to $362 in 2011 and $441 in 2016. When indexed to 2016 annual Consumer Price Index to account for inflation, median personal weekly income was $353 for 2006 and $398 for 2011.

Remoteness has a substantial impact on median personal weekly income for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Major Cities had consistently higher personal weekly incomes than Regional and Remote Australia between 2006 and 2016; this remains the case when median personal weekly income from the 2006 Census is indexed to account for inflation using the 2016 annual Consumer Price Index.

5.19 Actual median personal weekly income by remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 and over, 2006-2016(a)

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

Download
  1. Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Census median personal weekly income indexed to annual 2016 Consumer Price Index. For further information see Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator. See Consumer Price Index: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2017 (ABS cat. no. 6461.0)

Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

Whilst labour market conditions undoubtedly account for a substantial part of the changes in median personal weekly income, it is also possible that some change is being driven by changes in identification. This could partly account for the disproportionately higher median personal incomes in Major Cities – the main source of increases in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population between 2011 and 2016.

Endnotes

  1. For further information and detailed analysis on education Closing Gap Targets, see: https://closingthegap.pmc.gov.au/education
  2. Excludes persons with a qualification that is out of scope of the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001(cat. no. 1272.0) and persons currently studying toward their first non-school qualification. For further information, see QALLP Non-School Qualification: Level of Education in Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary (ABS cat. no. 2901.0).
  3. For further information see: https://closingthegap.pmc.gov.au/employment

Acknowledgement

This paper was prepared by the ABS’ Centre of Excellence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics with assistance from an external Advisory Group.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics gratefully acknowledges and thanks the following people for their review of the analysis and insightful comments on the publication.

  • Professor Maggie Walter (Pro Vice-Chancellor Aboriginal Research and Leadership, University of Tasmania)
  • Dr Andrew Taylor (Senior Research Fellow, Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University)
  • Francis Markham (Research Fellow, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University)
  • Joanna Abhayaratna (Senior Advisor, Indigenous Affairs Group, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet)

Data downloads

Overview of the increase

Explainable and unexplainable components

Changing propensity to identify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Impact of intercensal change on selected characteristics

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and the Census

History of changes

Show all

06/11/2018 - Births data for Major Cities published in 'Change Explained by Demographic Factors' and in the data cube 'Explainable and Unexplainable Components' (table 2.2) has been corrected. Table 2.2 in the data cube 'Explainable and Unexplainable Components' has also been corrected and additional footnotes have been added to table 2.5.

Hyperlinks have been repaired in the data cube 'Overview of the Increase' and the heading in 'Technical Note 1 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Status and the Census' has been updated.