Australian Bureau of Statistics
2901.0 - Census Dictionary, 2006 (Reissue)
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/11/2006 Reissue
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3. Torres Strait Islander
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More Detailed Description
Quality Statement - Indigenous Status (INGP)
There are many aspects which can affect the quality of Census data; the following information should be considered when viewing data on Indigenous Status (INGP).
This data was captured automatically from check box responses on the form so the risk of processing error is minimal. Sample checks of the data are undertaken to ensure an acceptable level of quality.
In order to achieve the most accurate count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in both nominated discrete communities and elsewhere, the ABS put in place an Indigenous Enumeration Strategy as part of the collection of the 2006 Census. This strategy was developed to have sufficient flexibility to allow for the unique cultural aspects of Indigenous society which could affect the enumeration and to raise the quality of the count of this small but significant population group. In many nominated discrete communities, collection of Census information was undertaken by an interviewer, using a tailored interviewer household form, with 16.6% of persons of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin being enumerated using this method. Non-response to the question on Indigenous status was 0.7% when this approach was used. In other areas, Indigenous peoples were enumerated using standard procedures and forms. Special Collectors skilled in Indigenous languages and culture were available to assist in these areas if required.
The question on the standard household form asking whether a person is of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin was moved forward to Question 7 in 2006 from Question 17 in 2001. This may have improved response rates for the question, as early questions are more likely to be completed than those appearing later in the form. However, the overall non-response rate for Indigenous Status (INGP) for 2006 was 5.7% compared with 4.1% for 2001. Most of this non-response is attributable to 4.1% of persons in dwellings which were occupied on Census Night but did not return a completed form (i.e. dwelling non-response). In such cases, persons are imputed into these dwellings together with some demographic characteristics. However the values for INGP remain not stated and so these persons are not included in counts of the Indigenous population. The ABS makes adjustments for this when producing official population estimates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In 2001, 2.2% of persons were imputed into in a dwelling on Census Night for which no form was completed.
In some States and the Northern Territory, the number of Aboriginal people counted in the Census in some urban areas and in regional towns is below what might be expected based on 2001 Census results and evidence of growth in these areas since 2001 Census. The increase in dwelling non-response (and the resulting increase in INGP being not stated), is believed to have impacted on the 2006 counts of Indigenous peoples in some parts of Australia. For example, there is evidence to suggest that there has been population movement between some of the surrounding communities and Katherine and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. This is supported by the 2006 Census counts. However, dwelling non-response in these two urban centres was the major contributor to INGP being not stated in these areas (INGP was not stated for 11.4% of usual residents in Katherine and 7.9% of those in Alice Springs).
Affected areas appear mostly to be where there were issues around the recruitment and retention of Census collectors (e.g. northern Western Australia and in Northern Territory). These areas tend to have higher numbers of non-responding dwellings, and evidence suggests that these dwellings may have contained higher than average proportions of persons of Indigenous origin. This includes evidence from both State/Territory Governments and from academic research around the movement of Aboriginal people between Indigenous communities and urban areas, both as a result of changing policies with respect to CDEP and other such programs, as well as the strong economy in some localised areas providing increased employment opportunities.
ABS preliminary analysis of the 2006 Census data have shown that counts may also be affected in areas where clusters of Indigenous households may be away or difficult to contact during the enumeration period, because of cultural, social or sporting events. The analysis, which is of those persons who were away from Indigenous communities on Census Night, suggests that many of these people were not included in the Census count for the Indigenous population. The findings also raise the possibility that the combination of an extended enumeration period in remote areas with a Census Night enumeration in non-remote areas may also have resulted in some persons who were away from home during this period being missed from the Indigenous count.
The ABS plans to do further evaluation work on the quality of Indigenous counts, in particular in urban areas, and of response levels for INGP. In the meantime, below is a list of SLAs for which Census counts of Indigenous people have declined significantly between 2001 and 2006.
In WA, the following SLAs experienced declines in their Indigenous population of at least 100 people and representing at least 5% of their population between the 2001 and 2006 Censuses. It is believed that these lower than expected counts of Indigenous persons may be the result of possible collection issues (including high dwelling non-response):
2006 Census counts for the SLA of Coober Pedy were lower than expected for both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. The Indigenous population declined by 22.3% (78 people) between 2001 and 2006. A higher than expected number of unoccupied dwellings may partly explain the lower than expected count, as it suggests that the usual residents were absent during Census enumeration. INGP was not stated for 16.0% of people usually resident in this SLA, and 13.3% of people were imputed into dwellings for which no form was received.
The ABS aims to produce high quality data from the Census. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into Census form design, collection procedures, and processing procedures.
There are four principal sources of error in Census data: respondent error, processing error, partial response and undercount. Quality management of the Census program aims to reduce error as much as possible, and to provide a measure of the remaining error to data users, to allow them to use the data in an informed way.
When completing their Census form, some people do not answer all the questions which apply to them. In these instances, a 'not stated' code is allocated during processing, with the exception of non-response to age, sex, marital status and place of usual residence. These variables are needed for population estimates, so they are imputed using other information on the Census form, as well as information from the previous Census.
The processing of information from Census forms is now mostly automated, using scanning, Intelligent Character Recognition and other automatic processes. Quality assurance procedures are used during Census processing to ensure processing errors are kept at an acceptable level. Sample checking is undertaken during coding operations, and corrections are made where necessary.
The Census form may be completed by one household member on behalf of others. Incorrect answers can be introduced to the Census form if the respondent does not understand the question or does not know the correct information about other household members. Many of these errors remain in the final data.
More detailed information on data quality is available in the 2006 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0), in the section titled Managing Census Quality.
This page last updated 20 May 2011
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