4705.0 - Population Distribution, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/08/2007  Final
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1 The term Indigenous is used in this publication to refer to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. All ABS Indigenous population statistics are based on responses to the ABS standard question for Indigenous identification, which is used in self-enumerated collections. The same Census question has been used to determine Indigenous status (but not its component peoples) since the 1981 Census. The standard question format for Indigenous identification in the Census, that is shown below, was first used in this exact format in the 1996 Census, and was repeated in the 2001 and 2006 Censuses.
Diagram: Indigenous Question

For more information on definitional changes and Census questions, refer to Occasional Paper: Population Issues, Indigenous Australians, 1996 (cat. no. 4708.0) or the Census Dictionary, 2006 (cat. no. 2901.0).


3 The 2006 Census of Population and Housing was held on 8 August 2006. Australia's first national Census was held in 1911 and since 1961 a Census has been taken every five years, the frequency specified in the Census and Statistics Act 1905. The objective of the Census is to count the number of people in Australia on Census Night, identifying their key characteristics and those of the dwellings in which they live.

4 Following changes to the Australian Constitution as a result of the 1967 Referendum, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were included in official estimates of the Australian population. As a consequence, from the 1971 Census onwards, the ABS has developed and improved strategies to count the Indigenous population throughout Australia.

5 The Census aims to count every person who spent Census Night in Australia. This includes Australian residents in Antarctica and Other Territories-Jervis Bay, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island. The other Australian External Territories (Norfolk Island and minor islands such as Heard and McDonald Islands), are outside the scope of the Australian Census. The only people who are in Australia on Census Night but who are excluded from the Census are foreign diplomats and their families.

6 The Census includes people on vessels in or between Australian ports as well as people on board long distance trains, buses or aircraft. Also included are those people outside Australia who are not required to undertake migration formalities, such as those on oil and gas rigs or on Australian Antarctic bases. People entering Australia before midnight on Census Night are counted while people leaving an Australian port for an overseas destination before midnight on Census Night are not. Visitors to Australia are included regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay. However, for people who intend to be in Australia less than one year, only basic demographic data are available. The Census includes homeless people and people camping out.

7 All occupied dwellings are counted in the Census with the exception of diplomatic dwellings. Unoccupied private dwellings are also counted, with the exception of unoccupied dwellings in caravan parks, marinas and manufactured home estates (self-contained dwellings that are built off-site and then transported to the estate for installation). Unoccupied residences of owners, managers or caretakers of such establishments are counted.


8 In the 2006 Census, Interviewer Household Forms were used in discrete Indigenous communities where literacy and language problems made the self-enumeration procedure impractical. They were designed to be more culturally appropriate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as easier for interviewers to use. They covered the same topics as the Census standard forms.

9 In the nominated discrete Indigenous communities, where possible, local Indigenous people were recruited to act as supervisors and interviewers. Locally appointed staff helped in the enumeration of these communities by liaising with the communities, assisting in planning workloads and, where necessary, assisting in the recruiting and training of interviewers. Urban Indigenous communities and Indigenous people residing outside these communities were counted on standard Census Household Forms using self-enumeration procedures. In these areas, assistance was offered to households experiencing difficulties with self-enumeration.

10 The Census in discrete communities was conducted over a period of weeks around the Census date. This is known as a 'rolling enumeration', and meant some communities were enumerated at different times.

11 Details about the 2006 Census content, collection, confidentiality and privacy protection, processing and evaluation activities are contained in 2006 Census of Population and Housing: Nature and Content (cat. no. 2008.0).


12 Census data are subject to a number of inaccuracies resulting from mistakes by respondents or mistakes in collection or processing. While many of these are corrected by careful processing procedures, some remain undetected. The effect of the remaining errors on the quality of Census data is slight overall, although it may be greater for some population groups. The main kinds of data quality issues are:

  • Partial non-response: Where a form is incomplete, answers are imputed for non-response to age, sex, marital status and place or usual residence. In all other cases, including Indigenous status, a 'not stated' code is allocated during processing.
  • Processing error: Much of the recording of Census information from forms is now automatic, using scanning, Intelligent Character Recognition, and other automatic processes. Quality management procedures are used to identify and correct error introduced by such processes.
  • Respondent error: While processing procedures can detect and repair some errors made by people in completing the forms, some remain in final data.
  • Random adjustment: Table cells containing small values are randomly adjusted or suppressed to avoid releasing information about particular individuals, families, or households. The effects of these adjustments are statistically insignificant.
  • Undercount: Although the Census aims to count each person, there are some people who are missed and others who are counted more than once. The data in this publication are not adjusted for the net undercount, with the exception of population estimates presented in table 1.

13 Further information on data quality is provided progressively in Census Update newsletters and in 2006 Census Data Quality Working Papers. These are available on the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au/census>.

14 See Chapter 2: Interpreting the Data in this publication for a discussion of the quality issues associated with Indigenous data from the 2006 Census.

15 Information is also available in Occasional Paper: Population Issues, Indigenous Australians, 1996 (cat. no. 4708.0).


16 The proportions of the population with a particular characteristic shown in the tables in this publication include 'not stated' responses in the denominator. For example, the proportion of people in Australia who are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin would be calculated by dividing the number of persons identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander by the total population, and expressing the result as a percentage. The 'total population' includes records coded to 'not stated', representing the 'status unknown' category.


17 In some tables there are apparent discrepancies between percentages and their sum total. These are due to rounding.

Random adjustment

18 Random adjustment of the data is considered to be the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable Census data. When the technique is applied, all cells may be slightly adjusted to prevent any identifiable data being exposed. These adjustments introduce small random errors. However the information value of the table as a whole is not impaired. For more details, see Introduced Random Error in Census Dictionary, 2006 (cat. no. 2901.0).

Usual residence and place of enumeration

19 The type of data used in each cell is clearly noted in the table or footnotes. In most cases, usual residence Census counts are shown.

Missing usual residence data

20 Some records do not have usual residence data, i.e. the person has not recorded a usual residence. For records with insufficient usual address information, the usual address is imputed. For more information on usual residence coding issues in the context of the Australian Indigenous Geographical Classification (AIGC), see Appendix 5: Usual Residence Coding and Edits in this publication.

21 Tables which present population counts at Indigenous Region (IREG) level or lower are affected by the absence of usual residence information for some records. These counts are presented in tables 4-42, and 46. Records without sufficient usual residence information to enable them to be coded to the levels in each table are excluded, with the exception of tables 4 and 45 (where they are separately identified) and tables 5 and 46 (where they are not separately identified).

Indigenous Location counts

22 In tables 6-42, Indigenous Location counts are not separately presented if the geographic area and corresponding counts are equivalent to the Indigenous Area already included.

Indigenous Regions (IREG)

23 For further information refer to Appendix 1: AIGC Structure.


24 Refer to Appendix 4 for more detail about Census products and services. Other ABS releases that may be of interest to users of this publication include:

      Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0)
      Census Dictionary, 2006 (cat. no. 2901.0)
      Census of Population and Housing: Indigenous Profiles (cat. no. 2002.0)
      Census of Population and Housing: Population Growth and Distribution, 2006 (cat. no. 2035.0) - expected release August 2008
      Census of Population and Housing - Undercount, 2006 (cat. no. 2940.0)
      Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1996 to 2016 (cat. no. 3238.0) - expected release August 2009
      How Australia Takes a Census, 2006 (cat. no. 2903.0)
      Information Paper: Measuring Net Undercount in the 2006 Population Census (cat. no. 2940.0.55.001)
      Occasional Paper: Population Issues, Indigenous Australians, 1996 (cat. no. 4708.0)
      Population Characteristics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 ( cat. no. 4713.0) - expected release March 2008
      Population Distribution, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 (cat. no. 4705.0)
      Regional Population Growth, Australia: 1996 - 2006 (cat. no. 3218.0)
      Social Atlas Series (cat. nos. 2030.1 - 8) - expected release early 2008
      Statistical Geography Volume 1 - Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2006 (cat. no. 1216.0)
      Statistical Geography: Volume 2 - Census Geographic Areas, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 2905.0).
      Statistical Geography: Volume 3 - Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) Urban Centres/Localities, 2006 (cat. no. 2909.0) - expected release late 2007