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4179.3 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey: Torres Strait Islanders, Queensland, 1994  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/05/1997  Ceased
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MEDIA RELEASE

May 22, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
65/97

Torres Strait Island life is different: ABS survey

Life is different for Islanders living on Torres Strait Islands to those living on the mainland, according to a publication released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Torres Strait Islanders living on Torres Strait Islands (Islanders) have a stronger sense of culture and identity than mainland dwelling Islanders (Mainlanders) in Queensland. More Islanders (93 per cent) than Mainlanders (79 per cent) also recognise the existence of an Indigenous homeland.

The publication National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey: Torres Strait Islanders, Queensland was jointly prepared by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Research of the Australian National University. It is the most recent ABS publication based on data collected by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey conducted in 1994.

Other indicators were that:
  • Seventy per cent of Mainlanders speak English as their main language, while 81 per cent of Islanders mainly speak Torres Strait Islander languages or Creole as their primary language. Ninety per cent of Islanders speak only one language, whereas 45 per cent of Mainlanders speak more than one language.
  • Slightly more Islanders (62 per cent) than Mainlanders perceive themselves as having very good or excellent health. Islanders are less likely to drink alcohol (44 per cent) than Mainlanders (60 per cent) and Indigenous people nationally (62 per cent). The proportion of Islanders who are overweight or obese (65 per cent) is greater than for Mainlanders (56 per cent) or all Indigenous people in Australia (44 per cent).
  • More Torres Strait Islanders (both Mainlanders and Islanders) had continued schooling beyond year 10 (29 and 24 per cent respectively) compared to the national Indigenous population (18 per cent). However, the proportion of Islanders with a post-school qualification (10 per cent) is lower than among the Mainlanders (21 per cent) and the national Indigenous population (17 per cent).
  • Mainlanders are more likely to have contact with police than Islanders. More Mainlanders than Islanders reported attacked or verbally threatened (12 per cent and 3 per cent), or needed legal service (11 per cent and 4 per cent) in last year and being arrested (16 per cent and 2 per cent) in the five years prior to the survey.

The publication says the differences between Islanders and Mainlanders probably reflects the differing social and economic environments. For example, Islanders in the Strait tend to live in small, remote island communities in which facilities are relatively limited, while those on the mainland often live in urban coastal areas where a fuller range of services is available.

Details are in National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey: Torres Strait Islander Queensland (cat.no. 4179.3) available from ABS bookshops.

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