Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates and projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) population of Australia are based on experimental population estimates derived from the most recent Census of Population and Housing (currently 2006) and Post Enumeration Survey. Assumptions on past and future levels of the components of population change are applied to this base population in order to produce estimates (for earlier reference years) and projections (for future reference years).
Assumptions are derived from an analysis of data sourced from a variety of institutional environments. Much of this data is administrative by-product data collected by other organisations. Assumptions on fertility and mortality are based on births and deaths statistics extracted from registers administered by the various State and Territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
For information on the institutional environment of the ABS, including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing governance arrangements, and the mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.
Indigenous population estimates for years prior to the base population provide estimates on a temporally consistent basis, thus eliminating any inconsistencies in estimates due to the changing propensity to identify as Indigenous across censuses. Estimates are published for Australia and the states/territories, by five-year age group and sex.
Population projections inform on future changes in the Indigenous population of Australia, such as population growth/decline and changes in age structure, and are therefore used in a variety of key planning decisions. Projections are published for Australia, states/territories, Indigenous Regions and Remoteness Areas, by five-year age group and sex. Projected numbers of births and deaths are also published.
Assumptions have been formulated on the basis of past demographic trends, in conjunction with consultation with various individuals and government department representatives at the national and state/territory level. Consultation occurred between May and July 2009, after which the assumptions were finalised.
ABS Indigenous population estimates and projections are compiled and published once in each five year period; typically three years following the most recent census.
Base population (2006 estimates)
The estimates and projections presented in this publication are based on results of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, adjusted for net undercount as measured by the Post Enumeration Survey (PES). The goal of the census is to obtain a complete measure of the number and characteristics of people in Australia on census night and their dwellings.
The ABS conducts the PES shortly after the census to determine how many people were missed in the census and how many were counted more than once. For 2006, the net undercount of the Indigenous population was 59,200 persons. The extent of undercoverage of Indigenous Australians in the 2006 Census, the relatively small sample size of the PES to adjust for that undercoverage, and the number of records with unknown Indigenous status means that 2006 population estimates should be interpreted with caution, and are therefore labelled experimental. For more information see Experimental Estimates and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Jun 2006 (cat. no. 3238.0.55.001).
Given the poor quality of historical Indigenous component data (births, deaths and migration), ABS Indigenous population estimates are produced by applying assumptions about past levels of Indigenous life expectancy at birth to the base population. As levels of these components is unknown, estimates should be treated with caution, particularly for the period 1986 to 1990.
Indigenous population estimates, based on the 2006 census, are considered to be more accurate than previously published estimates for this period, and therefore supercede those estimates.
ABS Indigenous population projections are based on a number of assumptions on future levels of fertility, mortality and migration. They are not intended as predictions or forecasts, but are illustrations of growth and change in the Indigenous population that would occur if the assumptions were to prevail over the projection period.
While the assumptions are formulated on the basis of an assessment of past demographic trends, there is no certainty that any of the assumptions will be realised. In addition, the assumptions do not attempt to allow for non-demographic factors (such as major government policy decisions, economic factors, catastrophes, wars, epidemics or significant health treatment improvements) which may affect future demographic behaviour or outcomes.
The estimates and projections presented in this publication are not consistent with estimates and projections based on 2001 or previous censuses. As the assumptions used in each successive set of Indigenous population estimates and projections incorporate recent trends, comparison of data across issues of this publication is not advised.
ABS population projections are not intended as predictions or forecasts, and should not be considered as such. Rather, they are illustrations of growth and change in the population that would occur if the assumptions were to prevail over the projection period.
This publication contains notes on the assumptions and methods used to produce the Indigenous population estimates and projections. It also contains Explanatory Notes and Glossary that provide information on the data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.
ABS Indigenous population projections are available in a variety of formats on the ABS web site under the 3238.0 product family. The formats available are:
- Main Features, which contains commentary on key figures;
- a .pdf version of the publication;
- data cubes containing:
- Indigenous population estimates and projections for Australia and the states and territories, by five-year age group (to 85 years and over) and sex, for all projection series (Series A to N);
- Indigenous population projections for Indigenous Regions, by five-year age group (to 65 years and over) and sex;
- Indigenous population projections for Remoteness Areas, by five-year age group (to 75 years and over) and sex.
- data cubes containing population projections, components of change and summary statistics for Australia and the states and territories, Indigenous Regions and Remoteness Areas, for the two main projection series (Series A and B).
If the information you require is not available as a standard product, then ABS Consultancy Services can help you with customised services to suit your needs. For inquiries contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The ABS observes strict confidentiality protocols as required by the Census and Statistics Act, 1905
. This may limit access to data at a detailed level.