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Income Distribution: Income of Indigenous people
Average personal income
Overall, 88% of Indigenous people aged 15 and over reported receiving some personal income in 1994. 11% stated they received no personal income and 2% did not state their income. Among Indigenous people who received income, the average gross annual personal income was $15,400 for men and $12,700 for women. In general, men had greater incomes than women and Indigenous people living in capital cities had greater incomes than those living in rural areas. The highest average income was received by Indigenous men who lived in capital cities and worked full-time, $28,500. The lowest average income was received by Indigenous men who lived in rural areas and who were not in the labour force, $7,600.
The overall difference between the incomes of Indigenous people in capital cities and rural areas is related to the prevalence of part-time employment under the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) in rural areas. CDEP employment is particularly important in rural areas (see Work and Indigenous people). It was the main source of income for 53% of Indigenous people in rural areas who had income from employment. However, Indigenous people employed under this program earned less than those in non-CDEP employment.
AVERAGE GROSS ANNUAL PERSONAL INCOME OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE(a), 1994
Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey, 1994 (unpublished data)
Distribution of personal income
The majority of Indigenous people reported low incomes. In rural areas 65% of Indigenous people had gross annual incomes of $12,000 or less (including those with zero income). 4% had incomes greater than $30,000. In capital cities the spread of income was slightly greater with 53% of Indigenous people having incomes of $12,000 or less and 10% having an income greater than $30,000.
22% of Indigenous people in capital cities and 29% of those in rural areas had incomes that fell in the range $6,001-$9,000, a level that corresponds to the value of government payments in 1994 (for example, the single independent unemployment allowance in 1994 was $294 a fortnight or about $7,600 per year). Some Indigenous people receiving income from part-time CDEP employment would also fall into this income range although their average income was $11,500.
INCOME DISTRIBUTION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, 1994Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey, 1994 (unpublished data).
Source of personal income
Overall, government payments were the main source of income for 55% of Indigenous people. 24% of Indigenous people had non-CDEP earned income as their main source of income with a further 9% having CDEP earnings as their main source of income. 12% either had no income or did not state their income.
Across the broad locations the main differences were in the proportions receiving government payments and earned income. Government payments were the main source of income for 51% of Indigenous people in capital cities, 52% in rural areas and 60% in other urban areas. In all three broad locations women were more likely than men to have had government payments as their main source of income. Conversely, men were more likely than women to have earned income as their main source of income. For example, in rural areas government payments were the main source of income for 40% of men and 65% of women, and earned income was the main source for 45% of men and 23% of women.
MAIN SOURCE OF PERSONAL INCOME OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, 1994
The main government payments
42% of Indigenous men and 47% of Indigenous women received payments from the main government pensions and allowances (newstart, jobsearch and sickness allowances, and the age, disability and sole parent pensions). 27% of Indigenous men were receiving newstart or jobsearch allowance. Among Indigenous women, 18% were receiving the sole parent pension.
PROPORTION OF INDIGENOUS MEN AND WOMEN RECEIVING MAIN GOVERNMENT PAYMENTS, 1994Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey, 1994: Detailed findings (cat. no. 4190.0).
Household income is derived by adding the personal gross annual income of all individuals aged 15 and over in the household. If people who usually lived in the household were absent then the household income was classified as not stated. Overall, 18% of households were classified as income not stated. The highest level of household income not stated occurred in rural areas, 23% compared to 16% in capital cities. This is related to differences in average household size and differences in people's mobility in the different areas. The larger the household the more likely it was that someone was absent. For example, 32% of households with 6 or more people were classified as income not stated. This means that income from larger households was under-represented. This influences the pattern of household income distribution.
Overall, 20% of households had gross annual incomes less than $16,000 and 22% had gross incomes over $40,000. The patterns of gross household income were similar across the broad locations. This pattern was different from that for personal income which is highest in capital cities and lowest in rural areas. The difference is related to the larger household sizes in rural areas (see Housing conditions of Indigenous people).
INCOME OF INDIGENOUS HOUSEHOLDS, 1994
INCOME DISTRIBUTION OF THE INDIGENOUS POPULATION, 1994 AND THE TOTAL POPULATION, 1993-94Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey 1994: Detailed findings (cat. no. 4190.0); Household Expenditure Survey, 1993-94 (unpublished data).
In general, Indigenous people have less income than the total population. A greater proportion of Indigenous people than of the total population had incomes less than $12,000 (59% compared to 46%). Conversely, a greater proportion of the total population had incomes over $25,000 (28% compared to 11% for Indigenous people). The overall average income for Indigenous people was $14,000, 30% less than the average of $20,000 for the total population. The average income for Indigenous people who were in full-time non-CDEP employment was $27,300, 13% less than the average income of all full-time employed people.
There was a higher percentage of households with incomes below $16,000 in the total population than among Indigenous households, 25% compared to 20%. However, this is probably related to the larger average size of Indigenous households (see Housing conditions of Indigenous people) and the younger age structure of the Indigenous population.
SELECTED COMPARISONS OF GROSS ANNUAL INCOME BETWEEN THE INDIGENOUS POPULATION AND THE TOTAL POPULATION