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Indigenous Statistics for Schools

Image: About Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander statistics ABOUT ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER STATISTICS Improving the quality of Indigenous Data

To improve the quality of the data the ABS implemented a Indigenous Enumeration Strategy (IES) for the 1996, 2001 and 2006 censuses. The strategy considered the unique cultural aspects of Indigenous society and included the employment of Indigenous Engagement Managers, greater employment of Indigenous people to assist Census collectors in urban areas and the use of Indigenous interviewers.

Pre-1971 figures are only estimates of the Indigenous population. During this period the Census was not designed to count Indigenous people. The Indigenous questions were intended only for the purpose of excluding Aboriginal people from the total Australia population count. Aboriginal people living outside settled areas were generally not counted in Censuses before 1971.

Since the 1971 Census, the estimate for the Indigenous population has continued to grow rapidly. Between 1971 and 2001 the Indigenous population more than tripled while the total Australian population grew by just over 50%. Growth of the Indigenous population between 1996 and 2001 Censuses increased by 16%. In 2006, 455,028 people were both identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin and counted in the Census, representing an increase of 11% between 2001 and 2006 Censuses.

The rapid increase can be attributed to a number of factors including:
  • a change in the Census questions designed to capture Indigenous status;
  • a change in people's willingness to identify as Indigenous due to a change in social attitudes;
  • a change in Census enumeration procedures and coverage (i.e. how, where, and how well the population was counted); and
  • natural increase (the excess of births over deaths).

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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