2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2017  First Issue
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Indigenous Status (INGP)

This variable provides responses of persons who identified themselves as being of Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. It is applicable to all persons.

How this variable is created

The responses to this question are captured automatically from mark box responses on the form so the risk of processing error is minimal. Where respondents identify with both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origins, they were instructed to mark both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boxes. In cases where a respondent marked both 'No' and 'Yes' boxes, then the Indigenous Status was set to not stated. This treatment is differs to that used in the 2011 Census where if both 'No' and 'Yes' mark boxes were selected the responses were accepted in the order they appeared on the form and the extra response was rejected. This change in treatment aligns with the Indigenous Status Standard, 2014, Version 1.5. An image of this question is provided below.

Variable history

A specific question regarding Indigenous Status was first asked in the 1971 Census, and has been asked in all censuses since then. No changes were made for 2016.

Non-response rate

Item non-response rates are a measure of how many people did not respond to a particular question as a proportion of the total number of people the question was applicable to. In this instance the response is left as not stated.

The majority of item non-response is attributable to the people who did not respond to the Census at all. Refer to item non-response rates for more information. The second and smaller contributor to item non-response is when people return a Census form but may not answer a particular question(s). For more information, refer to Understanding Census data quality.

The non-response rate for this variable was 6.0% (4.9% in 2011).

Data usage notes

As in the 2011 Census, in 2016 an Indigenous Enumeration Strategy was used in nominated discrete communities. This strategy was developed to enable the best possible coverage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and raise the quality of the count for this small but significant population group. In many nominated discrete communities, collection of Census information was primarily undertaken by an Interviewer, using a tailored Interviewer Household Form. In 2016, the proportion of people responding on Interviewer Household Forms within discrete communities was 92.1%. This was lower than previous Censuses (97.1% in 2011) due to increased flexibility in choice of how to respond to the Census. In areas outside of nominated discrete communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples were enumerated using standard procedures and forms.

The total number of people of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin identified in the Census was 649,171 or 2.8% of the total population (compared with 548,368, or 2.5% of the total population in 2011). A large impact on counts comes from non-response because the total Not Stated count is almost twice the size of the count of people identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The non-response rate for this item tends to be lower for forms used in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities due to the use of Interviewers to collect the information and scrutiny by other Census staff. Non-response for this variable is higher in non-private dwellings both because person non-response is higher and people, such as nursing home administrators, often don't know the answer when filling out the form for others.

Other sources of potential error in this variable are respondent error. There are a small number of respondent errors that come from misunderstanding and mistakes, and in some circumstances can be due to deliberate errors.

It is important to remember that this variable is collected through self-identification and any change in identification will affect the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

In the 2016 Census, as in 2011, information on people who were in prison on Census night was provided from administrative data. As a result, 2016 Census data for people in the prison system is comparable with the 2011 Census, and there are almost no prisoners with a Not Stated Indigenous status. People in detention centres have been treated as non-Indigenous.

Further Information

A definition of Indigenous Status is available in the 2016 Census Dictionary.

Household form question image

Question 7 as it appeared on the 2016 Census Household Paper Form:

Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 7. Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?
A text only version of the online Census Household form paper is available from the Downloads tab.