2007.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Topics, 2021  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/04/2018   
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ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES

The ABS is consulting to seek views on the information to be collected in the next Census and this topic brief provides detail about what has been previously included on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The opportunity to participate in the consultation will be available from 3 April to 30 June 2018 via consult.abs.gov.au


THE QUESTIONS ASKED ON THE 2016 CENSUS

Respondents can identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in the Census by how they answer the question:

  • Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

There are further opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to share their cultural background through responses to the following questions:
  • Does the person speak a language other than English at home?
  • What is the person’s ancestry?


HOW IS THIS INFORMATION USED?

The Census is the key data source for the determination of estimates and projections of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. There are no other data sources that provide a picture of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over time for this purpose. Census data is also used in conjunction with deaths data to provide a high quality measure of Indigenous life expectancy. A sample of records is linked between Censuses to produce the Australian Longitudinal Census Dataset. Commencing with the 2006 Census, the Australian Longitudinal Census Dataset is providing new insights into the dynamics and transitions that drive social and economic change over time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Census remains the only comprehensive source of local area data for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. As one of the most widely used statistical sources for this population group the data produced from the Census guides the allocation of government funding and planning both nationally and for targeted services and programs.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use the information from the Census to shape the decisions for their community. The information is used to plan what services are needed, strengthen business cases to secure financial support, or reflect changes within the community such as increases in educational achievement.

The 2021 Census will mark 50 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples being included in the official estimates of the Australian population, following the amendments to the Constitution Act after the 1967 referendum. Since the 1971 Census, there has been a clear upward trend in the number of people identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. The 2016 count of 649,171 represented an increase of 18% from the 2011 Census.


DATA PRODUCED FROM THE 2016 CENSUS

Questions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin provide data on:

CENSUS DATA QUALITY AND THE UNDERCOUNT

While every effort is made to count everybody in the Census, some people are missed. The number of those missed is measured by the net undercount. Consistent with the pattern in previous Censuses, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people missed in the 2016 Census was considerably higher than the rest of the population. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the net undercount in 2016 was 17.5% (137,750 persons) compared to 1.0% for the whole population.

The ABS is committed to improving participation in the 2021 Census and ensuring the Census better reflects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. We will build stronger partnerships and work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in urban, rural and discrete communities, to identify ways to improve participation and coverage.


HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2016 CENSUS ON ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES
Source: 2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016

Shape of Australia showing 649,171 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, 2.8% of population.
Infographic showing 649,171 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, 2.8% of the total population

Number and proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within each capital city in 2016
Infographic showing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within each capital city and as a proportion of the state/territory total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in 2016

Infographic showing the top five Indigenous language groups spoken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 2016
Infographic showing the top five Indigenous language groups spoken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 2016

Infographic comparing composition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous households in 2016
Infographic showing the composition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous households in 2016


STANDARDS

A number of standards are used by the ABS to classify statistics relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples:
1200.00 - Indigenous Status Standard, 2014
1200.0.55.005 - Language Standards, 2016
1200.0.55.009 - Ancestry Standard, 2014, Version 2.1


WHAT HAVE WE HEARD FROM YOU ABOUT THE 2021 CENSUS?

The ABS has undertaken initial discussions and reviewed feedback from the 2016 Census in preparation for this consultation.

The existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status question will continue to be collected on the 2021 Census.

The ABS is actively speaking with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and representatives on how Census participation can be improved for the 2021 Census.

We have heard that increasing the relevance of what is asked in the Census may encourage greater participation. One suggestion has been to recognise the connection with culture, language and country by enabling respondents to provide more information about their identification with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups. The ABS is keen to hear suggestions from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and data users on whether this would improve participation in the Census, and whether this would provide valuable information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION ON THIS TOPIC

All ABS household surveys ask the question, ‘Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?’ Listed below is a selection of ABS publications that focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data as well as other relevant sources. For the comprehensive list of ABS products, please visit the ABS website.

4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) is run every six years. The NATSISS collects information from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in non-remote and remote areas, including discrete communities. It covers a broad range of social subject matter including culture and cultural identity, social networks, housing, health-related topics, employment and education.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities maintain their cultural heritage by passing on their knowledge, arts, rituals and performances from one generation to another, speaking and teaching languages, protecting cultural materials, and protecting sacred and significant sites. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can identify themselves through land areas, their relationship to others and their language and stories, which may be expressed through ceremony, the arts, family, religion, and sport.

4727.0.55.001 -Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2012-13
As part of the Australian Health Survey, the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS) collects information from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in non-remote and remote areas, including discrete communities.

It combines the existing ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) together with two new elements - a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS) and a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS).

Topics covered include long-term health conditions; health risk factors; and selected social and emotional wellbeing indicators and health measurements.

3238.0 - Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026
This publication contains estimates and projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing for Australia and the states and territories, by sex and five-year age groups, for the period 2001 to 2026. The projections are based on assumptions on past and future fertility, mortality and migration. It is also includes summary measures such as projected births and deaths, as well as detailed notes on the assumptions used.

4433.0.55.005 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with a Disability, 2012
This article compares the prevalence of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people, using data from the 2012 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.


NON ABS SOURCES

There are also a number of external sources to the ABS where information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people is collected. Below is one example.

Footprints in time - The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children
‘Footprints in Time’ is the name given to the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children, which is conducted by the Department of Social Services. It follows the development of around 1,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families across urban, regional and remote Australia. It is one of the largest longitudinal studies of Indigenous people worldwide.

What are your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data needs? Share your views with us on the most useful information we should collect in the 2021 Census. Make your submission to our review of 2021 Census topics at the ABS Consultation Hub.