2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016  
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ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER POPULATION

2016 CENSUS DATA SUMMARY


POPULATION

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represented 2.8% of the population in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing – up from 2.5% in 2011, and 2.3% in 2006.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER POPULATION, 2016 (a)
Shape of Australia showing 649,171 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, 2.8% of population.
(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016

Of the 649,200 people who identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in 2016, 91% were of Aboriginal origin, 5.0% were of Torres Strait Islander origin and 4.1% identified as being of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.


AGE

PROPORTION OF POPULATION BY AGE, 2016 (a)
Infographic showing the proportion of different age groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations.
(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016

Since the 1996 Census, median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been on the rise. Twenty years ago in 1996, the median age was 20. This had increased to 21 years in 2011, and increased again to 23 years in the five years to 2016. The median age for non-Indigenous people was 38 in 2016.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to have a much younger age profile and structure than the non-Indigenous population. In 2016, more than half (53%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were aged under 25 years. In comparison, almost one in three (31%) non-Indigenous people were aged under 25.

The difference between the two populations was also marked in the 65 years and over age group. The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 65 years and over was considerably smaller than for non-Indigenous people (4.8% compared to 16%).


HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES

Obligation and connection to family plays an important role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. This support can be in the form of sharing accommodation.

Households in which an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander lived were more likely than other households in 2016 to be family households (80% compared with 71%). They were less likely to be a person living alone (15% compared with 25%).

In 2016 it was also more common for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households to have more than one family living together (5.1%) than for other households (1.8%).

HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION, 2016 (a)(b)
Infographic comparing composition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous households in 2016.
(a) Includes households in occupied private dwellings only. Excludes visitor only and other non-classifiable households.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, on average, were larger than non-Indigenous households (3.2 people, compared with an average of 2.6 people for other households).


LANGUAGE

One in 10 (10%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported speaking an Australian Indigenous language at home in the 2016 Census. Of the 63,800 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who spoke an Indigenous language at home, 85% reported speaking English well or very well.

Of the 150 Australian Indigenous languages spoken at home in 2016, the five most widely reported language groups spoken at home were:

TOP FIVE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE GROUPS SPOKEN AT HOME, 2016(a)
Infographic showing the top five Indigenous language groups spoken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 2016.
(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


WHERE ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE LIVE

State and territory

In 2016, over 60% of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population lived in NSW and Queensland.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up over one quarter (26%) of the population of the Northern Territory. This was much higher than the next highest state, Tasmania (4.6%).

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE BY STATE AND TERRITORY, 2016 (a)
The number and proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in each state/territory, and  within that state/territory.
(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Capital city

In the 2016 Census, over one-third (35%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population reported living in capital city areas, compared with 68% for non-Indigenous people.

Around half of those living in South Australia and Victoria lived in the capital city areas. In contrast, four out of every five (79%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the Northern Territory lived outside the capital city area.

PROPORTION OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE LIVING IN CAPITAL CITIES, 2016 (a)
Number and proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within each capital city in 2016.
(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


INCOME

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were half as likely as non-Indigenous people to report an equivalised weekly household income of $1,000 or more in 2016 (20% compared with 41%). Both these percentages have increased (13% and 33% respectively) although the difference between the two groups has remained the same.


EDUCATION

Education is critical for overcoming disadvantage. The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 20 to 24 years who had completed Year 12 or its equivalent increased by more than a third between 2011 and 2016, from 37% to 47%. Over the same period, the proportion for non-Indigenous people increased slightly from 75% in 2011 to 79%.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25 to 64 years were more likely than non-Indigenous people of the same age to have left school at Year 9 or below (19% compared with 6.7%). This is an improvement from 2011 for both groups (24% and 8.6% respectively).


For definitions of the terms used above, see the Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0). For more information about 2016 Census data release and products, go to www.abs.gov.au/census.

For a print-friendly version, go to the Downloads tab at the top of the page.

EXPLANATORY INFORMATION

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Household has at least one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who is a usual resident and was present on Census night.

Median age is where half the population is older, while the other half is younger.