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4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/06/2004   
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05/04/2013 Note: 2002 and 2008 NATSISS alcohol data by risk level have been revised. For more information, see the Information Paper (Catalogue No. 4714.0.55.005).


SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

INTRODUCTION

The 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) is a multi-dimensional social survey of Australia's Indigenous population designed to enable analysis of the interrelationship of social circumstances and outcomes, including the exploration of multiple disadvantage, that may be experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The survey aims to:

  • provide broad information across key areas of social concern for Indigenous Australians aged 15 years or over, including information not previously available at the national, state/territory and broad regional levels
  • allow for inter-relationships between different areas of social concern to be explored and provide insight into the extent to which people face multiple social disadvantage
  • provide comparisons with results for the non-Indigenous population from the 2002 General Social Survey and other surveys
  • measure selected changes over the eight years between this survey and the first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey conducted in 1994.

The 2002 NATSISS is a large and rich source of social data on Indigenous people aged 15 years or over. Some basic information was also collected about the numbers of children under 15 years of age living in the same households as the survey respondents. Analysis of the household circumstances in which these children were living will be reported in future Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases.

This summary of findings, which focuses on geographic differentials, changes since 1994 and comparisons with the non-Indigenous population, represents only some of the insights that can be obtained from the survey. Readers interested in undertaking further analysis of the data are referred to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Data Reference Package, 2002 (cat. no. 4714.0.55.002) available on the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au> or on request from the contact officer listed at the front of this publication.


POPULATION CONTEXT

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples comprise 2.4% of the total Australian population. The estimated resident Indigenous population as at June 2001 was 458,500. Torres Strait Islanders comprised 11% of the Indigenous population of Australia.

A significant share of the Indigenous population (69%) lives outside the major urban centres. In 2001, around one in four Indigenous Australians lived in remote areas compared with only one in fifty non-Indigenous Australians. Two states, New South Wales (29%) and Queensland (27%), totalled over half of the Indigenous population. While 12% of all Indigenous people lived in the Northern Territory, it had the highest representation of Indigenous people in its total population (29%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are a young population with a median age of 20.5 years compared to 36.1 years for the non-Indigenous population. The 2002 NATSISS covers the Indigenous population aged 15 years or over, who were estimated to comprise 61% of the total Indigenous population as at 30 June 2001, compared to 80% for the non-Indigenous population in this age range.

As the Indigenous population is considerably younger than the non-Indigenous population it can be misleading to make comparisons of certain characteristics to populations with a different age structure, particularly where the characteristic is largely age-dependent e.g. health status. Comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians for selected characteristics are therefore presented using age-standardised rates to allow for the effect of age.


CHANGES SINCE 1994

The 1994 NATSIS was a ground-breaking survey which provided for the first time a broad and contemporary social picture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. However, the findings of that survey were limited to describing, in the main, the situation at that point in time. The results from the 2002 NATSISS allow for some broad measures of change to be made for those data items which are comparable to the data collected in 1994 (table 6). To account for the high growth in the Indigenous population between the 1991 Census (the basis for the 1994 survey's population benchmarks) and the 1996 Census, the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS) data file has been re-benchmarked based on 1996 Census-based population estimates, and survey data revised accordingly. (See also paragraphs 67-71 in the Explanatory Notes for more information on 1994 and 2002 comparisons).

Culture and language

Indicators of Indigenous cultural retention from the 2002 NATSISS do not show any decline in the maintenance of culture since 1994. A similar proportion (just over half) of Indigenous people continued to identify with a clan, tribal or language group, as was the case in 1994, despite there being a decline in the proportion (29% to 22%) of people who lived in homelands and traditional country. Almost seven out of ten Indigenous people aged 15 years or over had attended cultural events in the previous 12 months, similar to the situation in 1994.

In 2002, use of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language as the main language spoken at home remained at 1994 levels (about one in eight Indigenous people).

Removal from natural family

At the 1994 NATSIS, 10% of Indigenous people aged 25 years or over reported that they had been taken away from their natural family. The same result (10%) was recorded for the closest equivalent age cohort group (35 years or over) in 2002. Both the 1994 and 2002 surveys recorded that 8% of Indigenous people aged 15 years or over at the time of the surveys, had been taken away from their natural family.

Health

The proportion of Indigenous people age 15 years or over who reported their health as excellent or very good was about the same as in 1994 (approximately 45%). There has been some shift in reporting health status from 'good' to 'fair/poor' since 1994 with a higher proportion of people assessing their health as fair/poor in 2002 (up from 17% to 23%). These proportions, while useful for considering changes between 1994 and 2002 for the same population, are not suitable for making comparisons with the non-Indigenous population (see table 5 for age-standardised comparisons).

The proportion of cigarette smokers has stayed at 1994 levels (at just over 50% of Indigenous people aged 15 years or over).

Education

The proportion of Indigenous people reporting a non-school qualification of Bachelor degree or above, while small at just over 3%, has progressed significantly since 1994 (just over 1%). Significant gains also occurred in the number of people reporting other non-school qualifications such as certificates and diplomas. The proportion of Indigenous people with a non-school qualification increased from around 12% in 1994 to 26% in 2002, although this level still remained well below that for non-Indigenous people (tables 6 and 4).

Work

While the total proportion of Indigenous people in the labour force remained constant at around 60% in both 1994 and 2002, there were marked changes in employment status at time of interview, with the proportion of employed people increasing from 36% to 46% over that period. The Community Development and Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme increasingly contributed to Indigenous employment, accounting for one in four jobs held by Indigenous people in 2002, and the proportion of Indigenous people employed in mainstream (non-CDEP) jobs also increased (from 28% to 34%).

Between 1994 and 2002, the proportion of unemployed Indigenous people at time of interview fell from 22% to 14%. These proportions translate to unemployment rates of 38% in 1994 and 23% in 2002. This downward trend is consistent with the general decline in national unemployment from 10% in June 1994 to 6% in December 2002. Improvements in long-term unemployment were also evident. In 1994, about half of all unemployed Indigenous people had been unemployed for one year or longer. By 2002 this proportion had reduced to one-quarter (table 6).

Labour force characteristics, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over: 1994 and 2002
Graph: Labour force characteristics, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over: 1994 and 2002


Income

Data on income source at time of interview for the total Indigenous population 15 years or over echo the changes in employment status. CDEP and non-CDEP wages and salaries combined accounted for a larger proportion of Indigenous peoples' main income source in 2002 (39% compared to 33% in 1994). Government pensions and allowances was the main income source for 50% of Indigenous people in 2002 (compared to 55% in 1994).

Mean equivalised gross household income for Indigenous persons 15 years or over has risen from $345 per week in 1994 to $387 per week in 2002. When 2002 data are recalculated for the population aged 18 years or over (the GSS population range) this is 59% of the relevant income level for non-Indigenous persons ($665 per week) (table 4). Income data from the 2001 and 1996 Population Censuses in Population Characteristics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 (cat. no. 4713.0) confirms that while Indigenous mean equivalised gross household income has increased, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous incomes has not narrowed.

Housing

The majority (70%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons lived in rented accommodation in 2002. This has not changed significantly since 1994 (71%). There has, however, been an apparent decline in the proportion of Indigenous people living in accommodation rented from state/territory housing authorities, from 33% in 1994 to 22% in 2002. Proportionally more people (about two-thirds in rental accommodation in 2002) are now living in accommodation rented through Indigenous Housing Organisations, community housing or other private rental providers (up from one-half in 1994).

In 2002, those living in dwellings either owned or being purchased was 27%, up from 22% in 1994.

Refer to the housing section of this summary (page 12) for information on housing tenure in remote and non-remote areas.

Law and justice

One-quarter of Indigenous people in 2002 reported that they had been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the previous 12 months, nearly double the rate reported in 1994 (13%). Some of this increase may reflect under-reporting by respondents to the 1994 NATSIS.

The proportion of Indigenous people in 2002 who reported using legal services in the last 12 months had increased to 20%, up from 15% in 1994. Those who needed legal services but did not use them increased slightly to 3% from 2% in 1994. In 2002 about 75% of those who used legal services used an Aboriginal Legal Service or Legal Aid, down from 87% in 1994.

The proportion of Indigenous people who reported having been arrested at least once in the previous five years declined by about one-fifth between 1994 (20%) and 2002 (16%). The proportion who reported being arrested once only in the previous five years was also down in 2002 (7% compared to 9% in 1994), contributing to the overall improved outcome.


FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ATTACHMENTS

Strong family life and involvement with the wider community are important for the functioning of any society. Participation in social activities and voluntary work, availability of community support, and the presence of stressors can provide some insight into the resilience of Indigenous communities.

Participation in community activities

In 2002, 90% of Indigenous people reported that they had been involved in social activities in the last three months, 49% had participated in sport or physical recreation activities in the last 12 months and 28% had undertaken voluntary work in the last 12 months. The level of participation in these activities increased with income (table 9). Participation in social activities and sport or physical recreation activities both declined steadily with age while voluntary work peaked among those aged 35-44 years (at 35%). Indigenous people living in non-remote areas (32%) were twice as likely as those in remote areas (16%) to report that they had undertaken voluntary work.

Participation in sport or physical recreation activities in last 12 months, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Participation in sport or physical recreation activities in last 12 months, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over


Support

The overwhelming majority of Indigenous people (90%) reported that, in a time of crisis, they could get support from outside their household. Those in the two highest income quintiles were more likely (96%) than those in the lowest quintile (89%) to report that they could get support (table 9). Availability of support was higher for Indigenous people living in non-remote areas (92%) than those in remote areas (87%).

Stressors

Overall, 82% of Indigenous people reported that they had experienced at least one stressor in the last 12 months. The most frequently reported stressors were the death of a family member or close friend (46%), serious illness or disability (31%) and inability to get a job (27%) (see table 12 for a detailed list of stressors). However, for those living in remote areas, the most frequently reported stressors, after death of a family member or close friend (55%), were overcrowding at home (42%) and alcohol and drug-related problems (37%). Indigenous people in remote areas were slightly more likely than those living in non-remote areas to report experiencing a stressor (85% compared with 81%) (table 12). Among those aged 18 years or over, Indigenous people were almost one-and-a-half times more likely than non-Indigenous people to report experiencing at least one stressor (83% compared with 57%) (table 4).

Selected reported stressors(a) in the past 12 months, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Selected reported stressors(a) in the past 12 months, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over


Removal from natural family

To measure the number of Indigenous people potentially impacted by the removal of children from their families, the 2002 NATSISS asked Indigenous people aged 15 years or over whether they or any of their relatives had been removed from their natural families. Thirty-eight percent (38%) reported that they had either been removed themselves and/or had relatives who, as a child, had been removed from their natural family. About 8% of Indigenous people reported that they themselves had been removed from their natural family (tables 1 and 12). The most frequently reported relatives removed were grandparents (15%), aunts or uncles (11%), and parents (9%).

Cultural attachment

In 2002, 22% of Indigenous people were living in their homelands/traditional country; 54% reported that they identified with a clan, tribal or language group; 68% had attended a cultural event in the last 12 months; and 21% spoke an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language. For each of these measures of cultural attachment, higher rates were reported in remote areas. While 21% of Aboriginal people and 23% of Torres Strait Islander people spoke an Indigenous language, the proportions for whom this was the main language spoken at home were lower (12% and 11% respectively) (table 1).

Cultural attachment by remoteness, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Cultural attachment by remoteness, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over



HEALTH AND DISABILITY

Previous reports have detailed a number of health concerns among the Indigenous population including high rates of diabetes, heart disease and respiratory conditions. For more information, see National Health Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 4715.0). For remote communities, isolation and limited access to health services may exacerbate these problems. While the 2002 NATSISS did not collect detailed information about the health status of individuals, the survey did include a number of health indicators such as self-assessed health status, smoker status, alcohol consumption and disability status.

Health status

In 2002, Indigenous people reported their health as either excellent/very good (44%), good (32%) or fair/poor (23%) (table 1). While the proportion of people who reported excellent/very good health was similar in remote and non-remote areas, those in remote areas were less likely to rate their health as fair/poor (20% compared with 25%).

Self-reported health status steadily declined with age. In 2002, 64% of males and 53% of females aged 15-24 years reported excellent/very good health, falling to 16% of males and 18% of females aged 55 years or over. In general, those with higher incomes had better self-reported health status, with 57% of people in the two highest income quintiles reporting excellent/very good health compared with 38% in the lowest quintile (table 9).

Overall differences in health status between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations may be affected by differences in the age structure of the two populations. Age is an important determinant of health, with consistently higher rates of disability and ill-health reported among older age groups. Once results have been standardised to remove the effects of age differences in the populations, Indigenous people reported lower levels of self-assessed health status than non-Indigenous people. In 2002, Indigenous people aged 18 years or over were less likely than non-Indigenous people to report their health as excellent or very good (35% compared with 59%) and twice as likely to rate their health as fair or poor (33% compared with 16%) (table 5).

Self-assessed health status, Age-standardised rates(a) - Persons aged 18 years or over
Graph: Self-assessed health status, Age-standardised rates(a)—Persons aged 18 years or over


Disability

Among Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over in 2002, just over one-third reported a disability or long-term health condition. Those with a reported disability or long-term health condition were less likely than those without to have participated in social activities (86% compared with 92%), more likely to have experienced at least one stressor in the last 12 months (86% compared with 80%), and more likely to have had transport difficulties. In 2002, 16% of Indigenous people with a disability or long-term health condition said they could not get to, or often had difficulty getting to, the places needed, compared with 9% of Indigenous people who did not have a disability (table 10).

Due to differences in the way disability data were collected in remote and non-remote areas, comparisons with the non-Indigenous population are limited to those Indigenous people living in non-remote areas. When the effects of age differences were removed, the disability rate among Indigenous people was 1.4 times higher than among the non-Indigenous population (57% compared with 40%) (table 5).

Smoking

In 2002, just over half (51%) of the Indigenous population aged 15 years or over were cigarette smokers, similar to the rate in 1994 (52%). Similar rates of men and women were current daily (or regular) smokers (51% and 47%). For both men and women, the highest rates were reported for those aged 25-44 years (table 3).

Current daily smokers, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Current daily smokers, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over


Alcohol consumption

In 2002, around one-sixth (15%) of Indigenous people aged 15 years or over reported risky/high risk alcohol consumption in the last 12 months. The rate was higher for Indigenous males than females (17% compared with 13%) and peaked for males aged 45-54 years (22%) and for females aged 35-44 years (19%) (table 3). The level of risky/high risk alcohol consumption in the last 12 months was similar for Indigenous people in non-remote and remote areas. People with a non-school qualification reported risky/high risk alcohol consumption at a lower rate (14%) than did people whose highest educational attainment was Year 9 or below (18%) (table 7).

risky/high risk alcohol consumption(a) in last 12 months, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: risky/high risk alcohol consumption(a) in last 12 months, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over



EDUCATION

For some Indigenous people, participation in education may be affected by economic disadvantage, social marginalisation, health problems and geographical isolation. A lack of formal education has implications for future employment prospects and hence economic independence.

In 2002, 26% of Indigenous people had completed a non-school qualification, with higher rates among those living in non-remote areas (29%) than remote areas (17%). Similar proportions of Indigenous people in non-remote and remote areas had completed Years 10-12 (39% compared with 37%), though a higher proportion of those living in remote areas had not completed schooling to Year 10 (46% compared with 31%).

Between 1994 and 2002, the proportion of Indigenous people with a certificate or diploma doubled from 11% to 22%, bringing the overall proportion with a non-school qualification to 26% (table 6). Despite these gains in educational attainment, Indigenous people were still far less likely than non-Indigenous people to have a non-school qualification in 2002 (29% compared with 50%) (table 4).

Educational attainment, Persons aged 18 years or over(a)
Graph: Educational attainment, Persons aged 18 years or over(a)



WORK

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people generally experience higher levels of unemployment and lower levels of labour force participation than the non-Indigenous population. Limited employment opportunities in remote areas where many Indigenous people live, and lower levels of educational qualification both contribute to this. In recognition of the particular difficulties faced by people living in remote areas, the CDEP scheme was established in the late 1970s. The scheme has since extended into non-remote areas. By providing Indigenous community organisations with funds to pay participants working on community projects, the scheme provides jobs for people who agree to forego an unemployment allowance.

In 2002, 46% of Indigenous people aged 15 years or over were employed at the time of interview, including those participating in the CDEP scheme. In non-remote areas, nine out of ten employed Indigenous people were in mainstream (non-CDEP) employment. In contrast, the majority in remote areas (six out of ten) were CDEP participants, reflecting the location of projects and lack of mainstream employment opportunities in remote areas.

Labour force characteristics by remoteness, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Labour force characteristics by remoteness, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over


Between 1994 and 2002, the proportion of Indigenous people in employment at the time of interview rose from 36% to 46%, with increases in both mainstream and CDEP employment. The proportion of unemployed Indigenous people fell from 22% to 14%. These proportions translate to unemployment rates of 38% in 1994 and 23% in 2002. This downward trend is consistent with the general decline in national unemployment from 10% in June 1994 to 6% in December 2002. Improvements in long-term unemployment were also evident. In 1994, about half of all unemployed Indigenous people had been unemployed for one year or longer. By 2002 this proportion had reduced to one-quarter (table 6).

In 2002, once the effects of age differences between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations have been removed, Indigenous people aged 18 years or over were less likely to be employed than non-Indigenous people (43% compared with 63%). They were also more than twice as likely to be unemployed (9% compared with 4%) and more likely to not be in the labour force (48% compared with 33%). On an age-standardised basis, the unemployment rate for Indigenous people (18%) was three times that for non-Indigenous people (6%) (table 5).


INCOME AND FINANCIAL STRESS

Income

In 2002, the mean equivalised gross household income of Indigenous people aged 15 years or over was $387 per week, with incomes 12% lower in remote areas than in non-remote areas ($350 compared with $399). The mean equivalised gross household income of Indigenous people aged 18 years or over was $394 per week, equal to 59% of the corresponding income of non-Indigenous people (tables 1 and 4).

People with low income can be defined as those with mean equivalised gross household incomes in the second and third deciles (see paragraphs 56-58 in the Explanatory Notes). Whereas 20% of non-Indigenous people aged 18 years or over were in the low-income group, almost double this proportion (37%) of Indigenous people were in this group, including almost half (48%) of those living in remote areas (table 4). Those without a non-school qualification were more likely to be in the low income group than were those with a non-school qualification (42% compared with 26%) (table 7). Almost half of all Indigenous people in CDEP employment were in the low income group compared to 17% of those in non-CDEP employment (table 8).

Low income(a) Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over, Labour force characteristics
Graph: Low income(a) Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over, Labour force characteristics


In 2002, Indigenous people were less likely than non-Indigenous people to report their main source of income at time of interview as wages and salaries (42% compared with 57%). Of all Indigenous wage and salary earners, one in four reported CDEP as their main source of income. Indigenous people were twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to report government pensions and allowances as their main source of income (52% compared with 27%) (table 4).

Financial stress

In 2002, just over half (54%) of all Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over were living in households in which the household spokesperson reported that they could not raise $2,000 within a week in a time of crisis. Around one-third (37%) of these Indigenous persons were living in households with Indigenous children under five years of age, and almost two-thirds (64%) were living in households with Indigenous children under 15 years of age. A higher proportion of people in remote areas reported that, in a time of crisis, they could not raise $2,000 within a week (73% compared with 47% in non-remote areas). In remote areas, 77% of these people were living in households with Indigenous children under 15 years of age.

Among people aged 18 years or over, Indigenous people were about four times as likely as non-Indigenous people to report that they were unable to raise $2,000 within a week, in a time of crisis.


HOUSING

Discussions about the housing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often focus on the quality of the dwelling and its size in relation to the number of occupants. Overcrowding and lack of adequate facilities such as a clean water supply and sewerage disposal are particularly problematic in remote areas. For more information, see Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 4710.0).

In 2002, the majority of Indigenous people (70%) were living in rented dwellings, a further 17% in dwellings that were being purchased and 10% in dwellings that were owned outright. The proportion renting was higher in remote areas (86%) where the majority of people (64%) were living in accommodation provided by Indigenous Housing Organisations or in other community housing.

Overall, 40% of Indigenous people reported that they were living in a dwelling which had structural problems (32% in non-remote areas and 58% in remote areas), and 63% were living in dwellings where repairs and maintenance had been carried out in the previous year (67% in non-remote areas and 52% in remote areas). Overcrowding was much more prevalent in remote areas, with 52% of people living in dwellings that required at least one extra bedroom, compared with 16% of people in non-remote areas (table 1).

Dwelling problems, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Dwelling problems, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over


Between 1994 and 2002, the proportion of Indigenous people living in dwellings that were being purchased rose (from 11% to 17%), while the proportion living in dwellings that were owned outright remained stable (around 10%). Among people aged 18 years or over, Indigenous people were far less likely than non-Indigenous people to be living in dwellings that were being purchased (16% compared with 35%) or in dwellings that were owned outright (10% compared with 39%). Indigenous people were far more likely to be in rented accommodation (70% compared with 24%) (table 4).


LAW AND JUSTICE

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tend to have relatively high rates of contact with the criminal justice system (for example as victims or offenders) and are over-represented in the prison system. These high rates may be both a contributing factor to, and an outcome of, the disadvantage that Indigenous people experience across a range of social dimensions.

The 2002 NATSISS collected information about the prevalence of victimisation, and the level of involvement of Indigenous persons with the criminal justice system in terms of arrests and incarceration in the five years prior to interview. Information was also collected on the age at which Indigenous persons first came into contact with the criminal justice system, in terms of their first formal charge.

Victimisation

One-quarter of Indigenous people in 2002 reported that they had been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the previous 12 months, nearly double the rate reported in 1994 (13%). Rates of victimisation were similar for people living in remote and non-remote areas (23% compared with 25%) and for men and women overall (26% compared with 23%) (table 6). Rates of reported victimisation were higher among younger people, with young men aged 15-24 years having the highest reported victimisation rate (36%) (table 3). Unemployed persons (38%) and those who reported that they had first been formally charged before the age of 17 years (44%) also reported high levels of victimisation (tables 8 and 11).

Victims of physical or threatened violence in last 12 months, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Victims of physical or threatened violence in last 12 months, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over


Of the 24% of Indigenous people aged 15 years or over who reported that they had been the victim of physical or threatened violence in the past 12 months, around one-third (32%) were living in households with Indigenous children under five years of age, and 60% were living in households with Indigenous children under 15 years of age.

After adjusting for age differences between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, Indigenous persons aged 18 years or over experienced double the victimisation rate of non-Indigenous persons (table 5). These data are consistent with the very much higher rates in the Indigenous population of both hospitalisation and mortality due to assault. For more information, see The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2003 (cat. no. 4704.0).

Involvement in the criminal justice system

Between 1994 and 2002, the proportion of Indigenous people who reported that they had been arrested in the previous five years fell from 20% to 16%. In 2002, 7% of Indigenous persons reported that they had been incarcerated in the last five years. Males, in comparison with females, were far more likely to report that they had been arrested (24% compared with 9%) and incarcerated (11% compared with 3%) in the last five years (table 3). Of those who had been arrested in the last five years, around seven out of ten were male, and of those who had been incarcerated, nearly eight out of ten were male.

Of the 16% of Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over who reported that they had been arrested by police in the last five years, 38% were living in households with Indigenous children under five years of age, and 63% were living in households with Indigenous children under 15 years of age.

Indigenous people who had ever been charged by police (35%) were around twice as likely to be unemployed as the rest of the Indigenous population. In 2002, 21% of males and 19% of females who had ever been charged were unemployed compared with 12% of males and 9% of females in the remainder of the Indigenous population. Similarly, those ever charged were more likely to have ceased formal schooling before Year 10, although the difference primarily occurred among males. Of Indigenous males aged 15 years or over, 42% of those who had ever been charged had ceased formal schooling before Year 10 compared with 32% of other Indigenous males (tables 19 and 11).

Of those Indigenous people who had ever been charged by police, those first charged before the age of 17 years were more likely to have been arrested and/or incarcerated in the last five years than those first charged when they were older. In 2002, over half (54%) of those first charged before the age of 17 years had been arrested by police in the last five years and 29% had been incarcerated in that period. Comparative figures for those first formally charged when they were 25 years or over were 31% and 14% (table 11).

Arrest and incarceration rates by age first formally charged, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Arrest and incarceration rates by age first formally charged, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over



TRANSPORT

In 2002, 55% of Indigenous people reported that they had access to a motor vehicle to drive and 70% said that they could easily get to the places needed. Those living in remote areas were more likely to have limited access to transport with 55% not having access to a motor vehicle to drive and 13% reporting they could not get to the places needed (compared with 41% and 5% respectively for Indigenous people in non-remote areas). Twenty-two percent (22%) of Indigenous people reported that they had some difficulty getting to the places needed.

Transport difficulties by remoteness, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Transport difficulties by remoteness, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over



INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

In 2002, 56% of Indigenous people reported that they had used a computer in the last 12 months and 41% reported that they had accessed the Internet in the last 12 months. Use of information technology (IT) was much higher in non-remote areas with computer usage and Internet access rates roughly double those for remote areas. Those living in non-remote areas were also much more likely to have a working telephone in the home (82% compared with 43%) (table 22).

Telephone access and information technology use by remoteness, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over
Graph: Telephone access and information technology use by remoteness, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over


When the effects of age differences between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations have been removed, Indigenous people had lower levels of IT use than the non-Indigenous population. Indigenous people aged 18 years or over were two-thirds as likely to have used a computer and around half as likely to have accessed the Internet in the last 12 months as non-Indigenous people (table 5).

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