Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate this page
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
1289.0 - Standards for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity, 1999  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/11/1999   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Indigenous Status >> Underlying concepts


4. The standard term for this variable is 'Indigenous Status'.

5. The 'Indigenous Status' of persons is ascertained by the application of the two concepts which are addressed in the standard. The standard terms for these two concepts are:

    • Aboriginal Origin
    • Torres Strait Islander Origin

6. Australia has two groups of Indigenous people - the Aboriginal peoples and the Torres Strait Islanders. This variable indicates whether or not an individual is of Aboriginal origin or Torres Strait Islander origin. Since the term 'Aboriginality' excludes Torres Strait Islanders it is not suitable as a title for the variable. 'Indigenous Status' best captures this concept. 'Indigenous' is a commonly understood term covering all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The acronym 'ATSI' should be avoided as it is offensive to some Indigenous peoples; the ABS has received a written request from the Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) not to use this term. See Measurement Issues for detailed guidelines on terminology.

7. 'Indigenous Status' is the term the ABS uses when referring to the variable which indicates whether or not a person identifies as being of Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. It has replaced the following terms:
    • Aboriginality
    • Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander origin
    • ATSI origin

8. The terms 'Indigenous' and 'Aboriginal(s)' should always be capitalised when referring to Indigenous Australians and Australian Aboriginal(s). These terms do not need capitals when used in a general sense to refer to the original inhabitants of other countries.


Nominal definition

9. The following definition, commonly known as 'The Commonwealth Definition', was given in a High Court judgement in the case of Commonwealth v Tasmania (1983) 46 ALR 625.
    'An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives.'

10. The Commonwealth Definition is used as the nominal definition.

11. Indigenous Status is an attribute of the counting unit 'person'.

Operational definition

12. In statistical collections and most administrative collections, it is not feasible to collect information on the community acceptance component of the nominal definition. Therefore, the community acceptance criterion is not included in the operational definition.

13. The operational definition of Indigenous Status is:
    ' Indigenous Status indicates whether or not a person identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.'

14. The term 'origin', when used in the context of the operational definition, is considered to relate to people's Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent and for some, but not all, their cultural identity.

Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2016

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.