Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surveys

The first nation-wide survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was conducted by the ABS in 1994.  That survey, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey, was part of the Government’s response to recommendation 49 of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody:

          That proposals for a special national survey covering a range of social, demographic, health and economic characteristics of the
          Aboriginal population with full Aboriginal participation at all levels be supported…

          Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, Volume 5 (1998). Available from
          http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/rciadic/

We continue to conduct surveys that are just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These surveys cover topics such as health, culture, education and employment and reach people all over Australia from major cities to very remote communities.

The information collected in these surveys is used to inform important decisions about the services and programs that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It provides a picture of the wellbeing of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that helps plan, promote, deliver and evaluate essential services, and achieve positive social and economic outcomes. The information collected is also used to support critical assessment of progress against Closing the Gap targets.

These surveys are dependent on the high level of cooperation received from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. Without their support, the wide range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander statistics published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) would not be possible.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS)

The NATSIHS was first collected in 1995.  It collects information about the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  The last NATSIHS in 2018-19 collected information on a range of topics, including:

  • Long-term health conditions
  • health actions and health service use
  • nutrition and physical activity
  • physical measurements including a hearing test
  • risk factors such as alcohol consumption, discrimination, smoking and substance use
  • experiences of harm
  • social and emotional wellbeing

The next NATSIHS will be in 2021-22 as part of the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS)

The NATSISS was first collected in 2002 as a follow on from the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey.  The NATSISS collects detailed information on the social and cultural experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  The last NATSISS in 2014-15 collected information on a range of topics, including:

  • Language and culture
  • Social networks and support
  • Health
  • Education
  • Work
  • Crime and justice
  • Housing
  • Financial stress

Future surveys

In August 2019, the Commonwealth Minister for Health announced a new national Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study (IHMHS). The Study will run over three years from late 2020 to 2023 and comprise surveys of health, nutrition and physical activity, and an optional biomedical survey. The ABS’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey program will be expanded under the IHMHS to accommodate the collection of this information across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, from 2022 to 2023.  More information on the IHMHS and future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surveys is available here.

The ABS and its employees are required by law to protect your data. The information you provide will never be used on its own and you will not be identified. Your information will not be used to check for compliance with things like tax or welfare payments. Find out more about Privacy at the ABS.