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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1996  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/1996   
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Contents >> Income >> Income Distribution: Income of Indigenous people

Income Distribution: Income of Indigenous people

In 1994, 59% of Indigenous people received a gross annual income less than $12,000.

Traditional Indigenous culture places great importance on the sharing of resources among kin-groups. Therefore, the assumption that income is shared mainly among the family unit, as is common in non-Indigenous families, may not be true for Indigenous people. This means that an individual or household may receive a greater or lesser effective income than declared because they are supported by, or support, other members of their kin-group.

Income and location

Data in this review refer to Indigenous people aged 15 and over.

Personal income is the gross annual income a person reported receiving at the time of interview from wages and salaries and from government payments. It does not include income from investments or other sources.

CDEP income comes from community development employment projects. The projects operate through grants from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) to Indigenous community organisations to enable individuals to undertake community managed activities in return for wages.

Government payments include allowances, pensions, family payments, rent assistance, Abstudy and other government payments.

Main source of income is the single source from which the most income was received.

Capital city comprises all state and territory capital city statistical divisions.

Other urban comprises all centres with a total population of 1,000 and over, excluding capital cities.

Rural comprises rural areas and towns with a total population of less than 1,000 people. Most remote Indigenous communities are included in this category.


Average personal income
Overall, 88% of Indigenous people aged 15 and over reported receiving some personal income in 1994. 11% stated they received no personal income and 2% did not state their income. Among Indigenous people who received income, the average gross annual personal income was $15,400 for men and $12,700 for women. In general, men had greater incomes than women and Indigenous people living in capital cities had greater incomes than those living in rural areas. The highest average income was received by Indigenous men who lived in capital cities and worked full-time, $28,500. The lowest average income was received by Indigenous men who lived in rural areas and who were not in the labour force, $7,600.

The overall difference between the incomes of Indigenous people in capital cities and rural areas is related to the prevalence of part-time employment under the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) in rural areas. CDEP employment is particularly important in rural areas (see Work and Indigenous people). It was the main source of income for 53% of Indigenous people in rural areas who had income from employment. However, Indigenous people employed under this program earned less than those in non-CDEP employment.

AVERAGE GROSS ANNUAL PERSONAL INCOME OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE(a), 1994

Capital city
Other urban
Rural
Total




Men
Women
Men
Women
Men
Women
Men
Women
Labour force status
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$

Employed (non-CDEP)
27,629
21,701
26,739
21,022
23,978
20,676
26,482
21,216
    Employed full-time
28,451
26,945
28,373
25,869
25,509
24,435
27,814
26,088
    Employed part-time
20,377
14,073
16,243
15,684
17,401
17,729
17,766
15,642
Employed (CDEP)
14,589
* *
11,454
13,884
12,289
13,406
12,194
13,765
    Employed full-time
16,726*
* *
13,255
15,098*
17,611
20,569*
16,338
18,969
    Employed part-time
* *
* *
10,857
13,738
10,744
12,395
10,784
12,839
Unemployed
8,568
9,523
8,998
9,478
9,174
9,150
8,934
9,432
Not in the labour force
8,187
10,389
8,534
10,246
7,639
8,966
8,146
9,854
Total
18,469
14,106
15,189
12,614
13,298
11,540
15,448
12,702

(a) People who stated their income and had an income greater than zero.

Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey, 1994 (unpublished data)


Distribution of personal income
The majority of Indigenous people reported low incomes. In rural areas 65% of Indigenous people had gross annual incomes of $12,000 or less (including those with zero income). 4% had incomes greater than $30,000. In capital cities the spread of income was slightly greater with 53% of Indigenous people having incomes of $12,000 or less and 10% having an income greater than $30,000.

22% of Indigenous people in capital cities and 29% of those in rural areas had incomes that fell in the range $6,001-$9,000, a level that corresponds to the value of government payments in 1994 (for example, the single independent unemployment allowance in 1994 was $294 a fortnight or about $7,600 per year). Some Indigenous people receiving income from part-time CDEP employment would also fall into this income range although their average income was $11,500.

INCOME DISTRIBUTION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, 1994


Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey, 1994 (unpublished data).


Source of personal income
Overall, government payments were the main source of income for 55% of Indigenous people. 24% of Indigenous people had non-CDEP earned income as their main source of income with a further 9% having CDEP earnings as their main source of income. 12% either had no income or did not state their income.

Across the broad locations the main differences were in the proportions receiving government payments and earned income. Government payments were the main source of income for 51% of Indigenous people in capital cities, 52% in rural areas and 60% in other urban areas. In all three broad locations women were more likely than men to have had government payments as their main source of income. Conversely, men were more likely than women to have earned income as their main source of income. For example, in rural areas government payments were the main source of income for 40% of men and 65% of women, and earned income was the main source for 45% of men and 23% of women.

MAIN SOURCE OF PERSONAL INCOME OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, 1994

Capital city
Other urban
Rural
Total




Men
Women
Men
Women
Men
Women
Men
Women
Main source of income
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Earned income (non-CDEP)
43.6
27.1
29.5
17.4
19.9
12.0
30.1
18.5
Earned income (CDEP)
2.4*
* *
8.4
3.4
25.5
10.8
12.5
4.7
Government payments
41.4
59.5
52.0
66.5
40.1
64.8
45.3
64.1
No income
11.6
11.2
8.5
11.2
11.6
10.7
10.3
11.0
Not stated
0.9*
1.9
1.6
1.5
2.9
1.8
1.9
1.7
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total
23.5
25.5
35.9
39.8
29.2
27.6
88.5
92.9

Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey, 1994 (unpublished data)


The main government payments
42% of Indigenous men and 47% of Indigenous women received payments from the main government pensions and allowances (newstart, jobsearch and sickness allowances, and the age, disability and sole parent pensions). 27% of Indigenous men were receiving newstart or jobsearch allowance. Among Indigenous women, 18% were receiving the sole parent pension.

PROPORTION OF INDIGENOUS MEN AND WOMEN RECEIVING MAIN GOVERNMENT PAYMENTS, 1994


Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey, 1994: Detailed findings (cat. no. 4190.0).


Household income
Household income is derived by adding the personal gross annual income of all individuals aged 15 and over in the household. If people who usually lived in the household were absent then the household income was classified as not stated. Overall, 18% of households were classified as income not stated. The highest level of household income not stated occurred in rural areas, 23% compared to 16% in capital cities. This is related to differences in average household size and differences in people's mobility in the different areas. The larger the household the more likely it was that someone was absent. For example, 32% of households with 6 or more people were classified as income not stated. This means that income from larger households was under-represented. This influences the pattern of household income distribution.

Overall, 20% of households had gross annual incomes less than $16,000 and 22% had gross incomes over $40,000. The patterns of gross household income were similar across the broad locations. This pattern was different from that for personal income which is highest in capital cities and lowest in rural areas. The difference is related to the larger household sizes in rural areas (see Housing conditions of Indigenous people).

INCOME OF INDIGENOUS HOUSEHOLDS, 1994

Capital city
Other urban
Rural
Total
Household gross income
%
%
%
%

$12,000 or less (includes zero)
11.7
10.3
10.6
10.8
$12,001-16,000
7.7
10.3
7.3
8.7
$16,001-20,000
6.6
8.5
8.5
7.9
$20,001-24,000
8.3
8.1
6.0
7.7
$24,001-28,000
5.9
7.3
6.9
6.8
$28,001-32,000
6.8
7.7
6.3
7.0
$32,001-36,000
4.9
5.5
5.9
5.4
$36,001-40,000
7.2
4.4
4.2
5.3
Greater than $40,000
24.7
20.4
21.6
22.1
Household income not stated
16.3
17.4
22.6
18.3
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey, 1994 (unpublished data)

INCOME DISTRIBUTION OF THE INDIGENOUS POPULATION, 1994 AND THE TOTAL POPULATION, 1993-94


Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey 1994: Detailed findings (cat. no. 4190.0); Household Expenditure Survey, 1993-94 (unpublished data).


Income comparison
In general, Indigenous people have less income than the total population. A greater proportion of Indigenous people than of the total population had incomes less than $12,000 (59% compared to 46%). Conversely, a greater proportion of the total population had incomes over $25,000 (28% compared to 11% for Indigenous people). The overall average income for Indigenous people was $14,000, 30% less than the average of $20,000 for the total population. The average income for Indigenous people who were in full-time non-CDEP employment was $27,300, 13% less than the average income of all full-time employed people.

There was a higher percentage of households with incomes below $16,000 in the total population than among Indigenous households, 25% compared to 20%. However, this is probably related to the larger average size of Indigenous households (see Housing conditions of Indigenous people) and the younger age structure of the Indigenous population.

SELECTED COMPARISONS OF GROSS ANNUAL INCOME BETWEEN THE INDIGENOUS POPULATION AND THE TOTAL POPULATION

1994 Indigenous population
1993-94 total population
Indicator
%
%

Proportion of people with an annual income less than $12,000
59.4
45.8
Proportion of people with an annual income greater than $25,000
11.3
28.1
Proportion of households with an annual income less than $16,000
19.6
25.3
Proportion of households with an annual income greater than $40,000
22.1
38.7
$
$
Average personal annual income of people who received income
14,046
19,958
Average income of full-time employed person (Indigenous figure excludes CDEP income)
27,295
31,280
Average income of people whose main income source was government payments
9,576
8,310

Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey 1994 (unpublished data); Household Expenditure Survey 1993-94 (unpublished data)


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