1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
   Page tools: Print Print Page


Imprisonment rate(a) - 2000 to 2009
Graph Image for Imprisonment rate(a) - 2000 to 2009

Footnote(s): (a) Age standardised rates per 100,000 population: crude imprisonment rates adjusted to account for age differences between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations by using the total Australian Estimated Resident Population at 30 June 2001 as the standard population.

Source(s): ABS Prisoners in Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4517.0)


The level of crime experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is very high in comparison to the rest of the Australian population. On average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience considerably higher crime victimisation rates and higher imprisonment rates. In 2008, around one-quarter (23%) of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over reported being a victim of physical or threatened violence in the last 12 months, and one in seven (15%) had experienced at least one episode of physical violence in the previous year (ABS 2010c).

Only New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory currently meet ABS quality standards for national reporting of police recorded crime victimisation rates for Indigenous Australians. In 2009 in the Northern Territory, police recorded 5,985 Indigenous people per 100,000 Indigenous population as victims of assault in 2009 compared to 1,150 non-Indigenous people per 100,000 non-Indigenous population. The difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous assault victimisation was also very pronounced in South Australia (5,909 and 896 victims per 100,000 Indigenous/non-Indigenous population respectively).


The imprisonment of Indigenous Australians is a major issue of social concern in Australia, with imprisonment rates much higher than those of the non-Indigenous population. In June 2009, the age standardised imprisonment rate for Indigenous prisoners was 1,891 per 100,000 adult Indigenous population, compared to 136 non-Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adult non-Indigenous population. Twenty-five per cent of all prisoners in Australia in 2009 were Indigenous.

Deaths in custody

The 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody investigated the deaths of Indigenous people that occurred in police or prison custody between 1980 and 1989. The Royal Commission was established due to growing public concern that Indigenous deaths were increasingly common and poorly explained. The National Deaths in Custody Monitoring and Research Program at the Australian Institute of Criminology was subsequently established in response to the Royal Commission, and monitors and reports Australian deaths in police custody.

Of the 74 deaths in all forms of custody in Australia during 2007, 12% or 9 deaths were of Indigenous people. The largest number of deaths in custody recorded since 1990 was in 1997 (105, of which 15 were deaths of Indigenous people). The largest number of deaths in custody of Indigenous people was in 1995 (22 deaths of Indigenous people from a total of 87 deaths in custody).


  • Crime glossary
  • Crime references

    Previous Page | Next Page