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2077.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counts, 2006-2011 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/09/2013  First Issue
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INTRODUCTION

Since the 1971 Australian Census of Population and Housing, there has been a clear upward trend in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in each successive Census. A very large increase occurred between the 1991 and 1996 Censuses (33%), and again between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses (21%). Factors contributing to the increase observed in 1996 were discussed in depth in Occasional Paper: Population Issues, Indigenous Australians, 1996 (cat. no. 4708.0). The purpose of this paper is to discuss factors contributing to the increase observed in 2011.

There were 548,400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people counted in the 2011 Census. This represented a 21% (93,300) increase since the 2006 Census - almost double the rate of increase between the 2001 and 2006 Censuses (11% or 45,000).


CENSUS COUNTS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people(a)

Graph shows the steady pattern of increase in Census counts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the 1971 to 2011 Censuses


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census counts and population estimates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are based on responses to the ABS standard question for Indigenous status which is used in self-enumerated and interviewer-assisted collections. The same question has been used to determine a person's Indigenous status since the 1981 Census. People have had an option to identify as being of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin since the 1996 Census.

While Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been increasing since 1971, large increases such as those seen between 1991-1996 and 2006-2011 have a greater impact upon other statistics, such as population measures or performance indicators used for government reporting.

While ultimately it is not possible to fully explain the change in the Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2006 and 2011, it is important to understand the factors that may have contributed to the increase. This publication:
  • quantifies the components of change that can be measured (such as births, deaths and migration)
  • explores possible reasons for the remainder of the increase in the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, such as improved coverage in the 2011 Census and changes in people's propensity to identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
  • provides information on the number of people in the Census for whom Indigenous status was unknown.
To help understand how much of the increase in the count may be due to people identifying as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person in the 2011 Census but not in the 2006 Census, and how increases in the count may have affected population and performance measures, this publication also provides information on changes in selected characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2006 and 2011, including:
  • age and sex structure
  • family dynamics
  • population distribution
  • labour force status
  • educational attainment.

    KEY FINDINGS

    The key findings from this analysis are as follows.
    • Over two-thirds (70% or 65,500 people) of the total increase in the Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (93,300) between 2006 and 2011 can be accounted for by demographic factors of population change (that is, births, deaths and overseas migration). This means that 30% (27,800 people) of the total increase in the Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people cannot be explained by demographic factors.
    • There were 67,400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-4 years in the 2011 Census, which is the highest Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children of this age group in any Census.
    • Fertility rates remained relatively constant from 2006 to 2011 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
    • Of the 27,800 increase in Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that cannot be explained by demographic factors, 9,400 was attributable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-9 years in 2011. Half of these children (4,700) had one parent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin and one non-Indigenous parent (mixed parentage).
    • The vast majority (90% or 83,100) of the 93,300 increase in the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2006 and 2011 occurred in non-remote areas. Of this, just over two-thirds (67% or 62,400) of the increase was in New South Wales and Queensland.
    • A change in people's propensity to identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin is found to be a significant contributor to the increase in counts of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people which cannot be attributed to measurable demographic factors. In particular, the large increase in the count of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-14 years in 2011 has been driven by a greater propensity of their parents to identify themselves and their children as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the 2011 Census when compared to the 2006 Census.
    • Analysis of the change in the Census undercount between 2006 and 2011 indicates it is unlikely that this was a significant factor in the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people counted in the 2011 Census.
    This publication brings together data from the 2006 and 2011 Censuses to describe and start to explain the large increase in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses. Further analysis is expected to be undertaken in the future to investigate some of the key contributors to this change in more detail. A new data source for analysing changes in the characteristics of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples between Censuses will be the Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset (SLCD). The SLCD is due to be released in December 2013 and will comprise a random sample of 5% of person records from the 2006 Census linked to the corresponding records in the 2011 Census and beyond. This utilises a statistical method known as probabilistic record linkage based on a number of characteristics common to both datasets such as age, sex, geographic region and country of birth (but not name and address which is destroyed after statistical processing has been completed in 2006). It is expected that about 2% (22,000) of these records will be for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.


    DATA QUALITY

    The ABS aims to produce high quality data from the Census and extensive efforts are invested in form design, collection procedures and processing. This restricts, but does not eliminate, the potential for error due to partial or non-response, respondent or processing error, and undercount. In this publication, adjustments have not been made for undercount or potential data quality issues, and the ABS advises that caution should be used when considering results, particularly where analysis focuses on small area or small population data. For more information on Census data quality, refer to the 2011 Census of Population and Housing Quality Declaration.


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