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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/04/2008   
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Contents >> Torres Strait Islander Peoples >> DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS

DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS

Estimated resident Indigenous population

The census count of Torres Strait Islander people, based on their place of usual residence, is used to generate a more reliable estimate of the size of this population by adjusting for net undercount and for instances in which Indigenous status is unknown. Births, deaths and migration are taken into account in calculating the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) which provides an estimate of the size of the Torres Strait Islander population, and the Aboriginal population, as well as the total Indigenous population.

The ERP for all people of Torres Strait Islander origin at 30 June 2006 was 53,300 (table 12.1). Torres Strait Islander people comprised around 10% of all Indigenous Australians, 23% of Indigenous people in Queensland and 0.3% of the total Australian population. Across Australia, 20,200 people were estimated to be of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin (38% of all Torres Strait Islander people).

In 2006, 62% of Torres Strait Islander people lived in Queensland (including 15% in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region) and a further 15% lived in New South Wales. There were an estimated 7,800 Torres Strait Islander people living in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region. This was 23% of all Torres Strait Islander people who usually live in Queensland, and 15% of all Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

12.1 ESTIMATED RESIDENT INDIGENOUS POPULATION, by state/territory of usual residence - 2006 (preliminary)

State/territory
Torres Strait Islander(a)
Aboriginal only
Total Indigenous

New South Wales %
15.4
30.2
28.7
Victoria %
5.8
6.0
6.0
Queensland %
62.2
24.4
28.3
South Australia %
2.8
5.3
5.0
Western Australia %
5.1
16.2
15.1
Tasmania %
3.6
3.2
3.3
Northern Territory %
4.7
13.8
12.9
Australian Capital Territory %
0.5
0.8
0.8
Australia(b) %
100.0
100.0
100.0
Population estimate(b) no.
53 300
463 900
517 200

(a) Includes persons who were of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
(b) Includes Other Territories, comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Source: ABS 2007f


The age distribution of Torres Strait Islander people was similar to that of the overall Indigenous population. In 2006, 71% of Torres Strait Islander people and the same proportion of the overall Indigenous population were less than 35 years of age. This compared with 47% of the non-Indigenous population who were in this younger age group. Only 10% of Torres Strait Islander people were aged 55 years or over compared with 8% of all Indigenous people and 24% of non-Indigenous people (table 12.2).

12.2 ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, by Indigenous status and age - 2006 (preliminary)

Torres Strait Islander(a)
Age group (years)
Torres Strait Indigenous Region
Balance of Australia
Total
Aboriginal only
Total Indigenous
Non-Indigenous

0-14 %
38.9
38.1
38.3
37.3
37.4
19.1
15-34 %
32.3
32.5
32.4
33.5
33.4
27.8
35-54 %
19.5
19.3
19.3
21.6
21.4
28.8
55 and over %
9.2
10.1
10.0
7.6
7.8
24.3
Total %
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
Population estimate no.
7 800
45 500
53 300
463 900
517 200
20 184 300

(a) Includes persons who were of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
Source: ABS Unpublished data, available on request



Births

A Torres Strait Islander birth is registered as such when at least one parent identifies as being of Torres Strait Islander origin or of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin. Indigenous births data are subject to under-identification and registrations do not always distinguish between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births. Identification of Indigenous births for the period 2002-2006 is estimated to be 95% for Australia and 98% for Queensland (ABS 2007a). Separate estimates of the level of identification of Torres Strait Islander births are not available.

Over the period 2004-2006, Torres Strait Islander births comprised 11% of all registered Indigenous births. In 2006, one-quarter (25%) of Indigenous births in Queensland were registered as being Torres Strait Islander births (table 12.3).

12.3 TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER REGISTERED BIRTHS - 2004-2006

Torres Strait Islander births(a)
Total Indigenous births
Torres Strait Islander births as a proportion of all Indigenous births
no.
no.
%

2004
1 296
12 006
10.8
2005
1 374
12 078
11.4
2006
1 378
12 496
11.0
2006
Queensland
864
3 463
24.9
Balance of Australia
514
9 033
5.7
Males
709
6 288
11.3
Females
669
6 208
10.8

(a) Includes births where mother or father was of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
Source: ABS Birth Registrations Collection


There were 4,048 births registered as Torres Strait Islander in the period 2004-2006, of which two-thirds (2,582) were to Torres Strait Islander mothers. The median age of Torres Strait Islander mothers was 25 years which was the same as for all Indigenous mothers (table 12.4). This was younger than the median age of non-Indigenous mothers (31 years).

12.4 AGE OF PARENTS, Torres Strait Islander registered births - 2004-2006

Age of mother (years)
Torres Strait Islander mothers(a)
Total Indigenous mothers
Non-Indigenous mothers

Less than 20 %
17.0
21.1
3.4
20-24 %
31.1
31.1
13.4
25-29 %
23.7
23.3
26.9
30-34 %
18.9
16.2
34.9
35-39 %
7.7
7.0
17.8
40 and over %
1.5
1.3
3.5
Total %
100.0
100.0
100.0
Median age of mother years
25.3
24.6
30.9
Median age of father years
28.2
27.7
33.1
All registered births no.
2 582
25 989
743 943

(a) Includes mothers who were of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
Source: ABS Birth Registrations Collection


Forty-one percent of babies registered as being of Torres Strait Islander origin in 2004-2006 had two Indigenous parents, compared with 30% of Indigenous babies overall (graph 12.5).

12.5 INDIGENOUS STATUS OF PARENTS, Torres Strait Islander(a) and all Indigenous births - 2004-2006
Graph: 12.5 Indigenous status of parents, Torres Strait Islander and all registered Indigenous births, 2004-2006



Babies

The AIHW National Perinatal Statistics Unit (NPSU) collects birth data from midwives and other health professionals who attend births. As birth registrations are based on information provided by parents to state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, different sources mean that statistics obtained vary. Only the Indigenous status of the mother is collected by the NPSU, while birth registrations collect the Indigenous status of both mother and father.

The AIHW National Perinatal Data Collection recorded an average of 1,041 liveborn babies with a Torres Strait Islander mother each year in the period 2003-2005. Of these babies, 96 each year, on average, were low birthweight babies (less than 2,500 grams at birth) including an average of 20 very low birthweight babies (less than 1,500 grams at birth) per year. With around one in ten liveborn babies (9%) recording a low birthweight, Torres Strait Islander mothers were less likely than Indigenous mothers overall (13%) but more likely than non-Indigenous mothers (6%) to have low birthweight babies.

Over the same period, the perinatal death rate was 17 per 1,000 births to Torres Strait Islander mothers. This was similar to the perinatal death rate for births to Indigenous mothers overall (18 per 1,000 births) but 70% higher than the perinatal death rate for births to non-Indigenous mothers (10 per 1,000 births).


Deaths

Undercounting of Indigenous deaths is likely to result from some Torres Strait Islander people not being identified as such when their death is registered. Although identification of Indigenous deaths is incomplete in all state and territory registration systems, the ABS has determined that data for Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory have sufficient coverage to enable the production of mortality statistics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In 2001-2005, the rate of coverage of Indigenous deaths was over 50% for each of these states and 92% in the Northern Territory. Deaths data presented in this chapter have been combined from these four jurisdictions and should be regarded as indicative only.

During 2001-2005, the median age at death was 55 years for Torres Strait Islander males and 62 years for Torres Strait Islander females (table 12.6).

12.6 INDIGENOUS DEATHS, by sex and median age at death(a) - 2001-2005

Torres Strait Islander(b)
Total Indigenous
Non-Indigenous

Deaths
Males no.
375
4 329
119 211
Females no.
263
3 215
108 185
Persons no.
638
7 544
227 396
Median age at death
Males years
55
49
76
Females years
62
55
82
Persons years
58
51
79

(a) Data are for Qld, WA, SA and NT combined, based on state/territory of usual residence. Deaths are based on year of registration of death for 2001-2005.
(b) Includes deaths where person was of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database



Cause of death

The most commonly recorded cause of death among Torres Strait Islander people in the period 2001-2005, accounting for 30% of registered deaths, were diseases of the circulatory system (e.g. heart diseases). Circulatory diseases were also the most common cause of death in the Indigenous population (accounting for 27% of registered deaths). Torres Strait Islander people were more likely than Indigenous people overall to die from cancer (malignant neoplasms) (21% compared with 15%), and were less likely to die as a result of external causes (including injury) (10% compared with 16%) (table 12.7).

12.7 UNDERLYING CAUSE OF DEATH(a), by Indigenous status - 2001-2006

Torres Strait Islander(b)
Total Indigenous
no.
%
no.
%

Malignant neoplasms (C00-C96)
132
20.7
1 113
14.8
Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases (E00-E90)
73
11.4
682
9.0
Diabetes (E10-E14)
63
9.9
600
8.0
Diseases of the circulatory system (I00-I99)
190
29.8
2 006
26.6
Diseases of the respiratory system (J00-J99)
40
6.3
659
8.7
Diseases of the digestive system (K00-K93)
25
3.9
433
5.7
External causes of morbidity and mortality (V01-Y98)
66
10.3
1 220
16.2
Other causes
112
17.6
1 431
19.0
All causes
638
100.0
7 544
100.0

(a) Data are for Qld, WA, SA and NT combined, based on state/territory of usual residence. Deaths are based on year of registration of death for 2001-2005.
(b) Includes deaths where person was of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database






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