Victoria: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population summary

Released
1/07/2022

Population

In Victoria 66,000 people identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in the 2021 Census of Population and Housing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represented 1.0% of Victoria’s population. This was up from 0.8% in 2016, and 0.7% in 2011.

Of the 66,000 people who identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin:

  • 94.2% identified as Aboriginal
  • 3.2% identified as Torres Strait Islander
  • 2.6% identified as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

(a) Based on place of usual residence. Excludes overseas visitors.

The median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria increased over the last ten years. In 2021 the median age was 24 years, up from 23 years in 2016 and 22 years in 2011.

In 2021, 50.3% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria were aged under 25 years, down from 54.7% in 2011.

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 75 years and over in 2021 was larger than in 2011 (1.7% compared to 1.5%).

Where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live

In 2021, the Victorian Local Government Area (LGA) with the most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was Greater Geelong, followed by Greater Bendigo and Greater Shepparton.

In the Greater Geelong LGA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represented:

  • 1.3% of the LGA population
  • 5.4% of the overall Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
LGAs with the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population(a)
2021 LGAsCount of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander state population% of the total LGA population
Greater Geelong3,5625.41.3
Greater Bendigo2,7434.22.3
Greater Shepparton2,6864.13.9
Mildura2,6214.04.6
Wyndham2,5113.80.9
Casey2,3953.60.7
Whittlesea2,2703.51.0

(a) Based on place of usual residence. Excludes overseas visitors.

The top five LGAs with the greatest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were:

  • Mildura (4.6% of the total LGA population)
  • Swan Hill (4.5%)
  • Greater Shepparton (3.9%)
  • East Gippsland (3.5%)
  • Wodonga (3.4%)

Households and families

In the Census, an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander household is a dwelling where at least one person identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. On Census Night the person needs to have been present and a usual resident at the dwelling.

The average size of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households in Victoria was 3.0 people in both 2021 and 2011.

Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households (76.3%) were family households, including 3.4% with more than one family living together. One in six households (16.6%) were made up of people who lived alone while a small proportion were group households (7.0%).

(a) Based on place of enumeration. Includes households in occupied private dwellings only. Excludes visitor only and other non-classifiable households.

Housing suitability

Securing appropriate housing is an outcome area in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, measured by a housing suitability target. Housing suitability is based on the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS) which may not adequately reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives of appropriate housing and overcrowding (1).

In 2021, most (88.8%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria lived in appropriately sized (not overcrowded) dwellings, where no extra bedrooms were needed to adequately house the usual residents.

Housing tenure

The most common tenure types for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households in Victoria were:

  • rented through a real estate agent (31.3%)
  • owned with a mortgage (29.5%)
  • owned outright (15.4%)
  • rented through a state or territory housing authority (10.0%).

Housing costs

In 2021, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households had a median:

  • weekly rent of $330
  • monthly mortgage of $1,600.

Language

Of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria:

  • most (91.9%) used only English at home
  • 1.5% used an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language at home.

Of the 1,010 people who used Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages, the most common language spoken was Yorta Yorta (10.8%).

Income

Two in five (39.7%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households in Victoria reported an equivalised total household weekly income of $1,000 or more in 2021, compared with 36.7% nationally.

The median equivalised total household weekly income for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households in Victoria was $882. This was higher than the national average ($830).

Education

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 20 to 24 years in Victoria who had completed Year 12 or equivalent as their highest year of school was 60.8%, up from 41.8% in 2011.

(a) Based on place of usual residence. Excludes overseas visitors.

One in seven (15.3%) people aged 18-24 years were attending university or other higher education institutions at the time of the 2021 Census, up from 9.9% in 2011.

(a) Based on place of usual residence. Excludes overseas visitors.

In 2021, 3.9% of people aged 25 years and over were attending university or other higher education institutions, up from 3.3% in 2011.

Health

The 2021 Census included a new topic to collect data on certain long-term health conditions. This information will not have the same level of detail as the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS). Long-term health conditions data from the Census is not intended to provide prevalence estimates at national and state/territory levels. Prevalence estimates of long-term health conditions should be sourced from the NATSIHS.

More detailed information on long-term health conditions data collected in Census can be found in Comparing ABS long-term health conditions data sources.

In 2021, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females in Victoria were more likely than males to report having:

  • arthritis (8.9% compared with 5.6%)
  • asthma (18.5% compared with 13.9%)
  • mental health conditions (21.6% compared with 14.9%).

Males were slightly more likely to report having dementia (0.5% compared with 0.4% of females) and heart disease (4.0% compared with 3.3% of females). Males were also more likely to report having no long-term health condition (54.4% compared with 50.4% of females) and had a higher non-response rate to the Census question (8.7% compared with 6.0% of females).

(a) Measures the number of people who reported that they have been told by a doctor or nurse that they have any of these long-term health conditions. Includes health conditions that have lasted or are expected to last six months or more, may occur from time to time, are controlled by medication or are in remission.

(b) Based on place of usual residence. Excludes overseas visitors.

(c) Includes any long-term health condition other than the ones listed.

Sources

  1. Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute 2017. Understanding ‘demand sharing’ of Indigenous households. Available at Understanding 'demand sharing' of Indigenous households | AHURI