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The origin question on the census form asks whether each person is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. The purpose of the question is to provide data about both groups of Australia's Indigenous people.
Torres Strait Islanders are the descendants of the Indigenous people of the Torres Strait, between the tip of Cape York and Papua New Guinea.
A question on origin has been asked in all censuses. However, prior to the 1971 Census Indigenous peoples were counted in order to exclude them from population estimates for each State/Territory. The 1967 Referendum changed section 127 of the Constitution to allow Aboriginal people to be included in official census population counts. The 1971 and 1976 Censuses asked each person's racial origin. Since the 1981 Census the word 'racial' has been dropped from the question. The 1996 Census was the first census to allow people's origin to be recorded as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; prior to this only one or the other could be recorded.
See also Community Development Employment Program (CDEP), Indigenous enumeration, Indigenous Family, Indigenous Household, Indigenous languages.