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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/02/2011  Final
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DEMOGRAPHIC, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS: FERTILITY AND BIRTHS
This article is part of a comprehensive series released as The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

KEY MESSAGES

In 2011, the total fertility rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females was estimated to be 2.74 babies per woman, compared with 1.88 babies per woman for all women in Australia.


This article focuses on fertility and births within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Data presented in this topic are from the ABS Birth Registrations collection and provide context for the detailed health and welfare information presented in other topics in this release. Birth statistics for states and territories have been compiled and presented according to the state or territory of usual residence of the mother.


FERTILITY

The total fertility rate (TFR) represents the number of children a woman would have during her lifetime if she were to experience current age-specific fertility rates at each stage of her reproductive life. In 2011, the TFR for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females was estimated to be 2.74 babies per woman, compared with 1.88 babies per woman for all women in Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander TFRs vary across the states and territories. In 2011, the highest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander TFR was observed in Western Australia (3.01 babies per female), followed by Queensland (2.93 babies per female), New South Wales (2.86 babies per female) and South Australia (2.61 babies per female) (Endnote 1).

High fertility at younger ages contributes to the relatively high fertility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females compared to all women in Australia. Teenage births (i.e. births to females less than 20 years of age) are more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women compared to all women in Australia. In 2011, the teenage birth rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women (78 babies per 1,000 women) was nearly five times the teenage birth rate for all women (16 babies per 1,000 women). The peak age group for births to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in 2011 was 20–24 years (155 babies per 1,000 women), followed by women aged 25–29 years (147 babies per 1,000 women). In contrast, the peak age group for births to all women in Australia, in 2011, was 30–34 years (122 babies per 1,000 women) (Endnote 1).

1.5 AGE-SPECIFIC FERTILITY RATES, by Indigenous status of mother—2011

(a) Number of babies per 1,000 females.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012, Births, Australia, 2011, cat. no. 3301.0

BIRTHS

In 2011, there were 17,600 births registered in Australia where at least one parent identified themselves as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin on the birth registration statement (Endnote 2). This was 9% higher than in 2010 (16,100 births) and accounted for 6% of all births registered in 2011 (Endnote 1).

The states with the highest number of registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births were New South Wales (5,600 births) and Queensland (5,300 births), followed by Western Australia and the Northern Territory (2,500 and 1,500 births respectively).

The median age of mothers who registered an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander birth in 2011 was 24.8 years, almost 6 years lower than the median age of all mothers in Australia (30.6 years). Similarly, the median age of fathers was 27.6 years compared with 33.0 years for all fathers in Australia (Endnote 1).



ENDNOTES

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012, 'Births, Australia, 2011', cat. no. 3301.0, ABS, Canberra, <www.abs.gov.au>.

2. Due to a number of factors, including the Indigenous status of parents not always being recorded or not recorded correctly, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births recorded is likely to be an underestimate and users should exercise care when interpreting changes in birth data. Caution should be exercised when interpreting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births data, especially with regard to year-to-year changes. For more information, see the Explanatory Notes in Births, Australia, 2011 (ABS cat. no. 3301.0).


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