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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples occupy a unique and important place in Australia's society and culture. They are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby Torres Strait Islands, and their cultures are amongst the oldest in the world. Aboriginal communities in Australia are diverse, with many cultures, customs and languages. Torres Strait Islander peoples also have their own distinct identity and culture.

This chapter is new to Year Book Australia and presents information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across nine broad domains of wellbeing, as identified in the ABS Framework for Measuring Wellbeing: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2010 (4703.0). These nine domains are of specific importance to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and may differ from concepts of wellbeing seen as relevant to the wider Australian population.

The responsibility for implementation and overall co-ordination of Australian Government policy and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples lies with the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. A number of other government departments also have responsibility for specific programs.

The 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) is the primary data source for this chapter, with supplementary data from a number of other data collections. In the 2008 NATSISS, information about the characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was self-reported, or in the case of children aged 0–14 years (and a small number of 15–17 year olds), was collected from a parent, guardian or other household member on behalf of the child. Similarly, information about the household was collected from a nominated household spokesperson, on behalf of household members. In Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents are self-identified, or have been identified as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin by a member of their household. Unless otherwise stated, all differences between groups (for instance, remote and non-remote) are statistically significant at the 5% level.

This chapter contains two special articles, Cherbourg State School Language for Life project, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community co-operatives and credit unions.

Further information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be found in other chapters of Year Book Australia, including 4 GOVERNMENT, 6 DEFENCE, 7 POPULATION, 9 INCOME AND WELFARE, 10 HOUSING, 11 HEALTH, 12 EDUCATION AND TRAINING and 13 CRIME AND JUSTICE.

The feature article on the National Year of Reading 2012 discusses Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's literacy.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.

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