2077.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counts, 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/11/2018   
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CHANGE EXPLAINED BY DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS

Key findings
  • Most (79,272 or 78.6%) of the 100,803 increase in the Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016 can be explained by demographic factors. That is, births, deaths and overseas migration.
  • The proportion of the increase that is explainable is greater than it was between 2006 and 2011 (70.2%).
  • The remaining 21.4% (21,531) of the increase in Census counts is unexplainable change; that is change that is not explained by demographic factors of births, deaths and overseas migration.

As outlined in Overview of the Increase, there was an increase of 100,803 persons (18.4%) between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. There are components of this increase that can be explained by demographic factors of births, deaths and overseas migration (referred to as demographically-explainable change) and a component that cannot (referred to as unexplainable change). The proportion of the increase that can be attributed to each component can be quantified by comparing Census data with administrative datasets of births and deaths where Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status is collected and is considered of acceptable quality. This chapter will:

    • Quantify the explainable change due to the demographic factors of births, deaths and migration between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses.
    • Explore the relative contribution of those factors.
    • Compare the explainable changes with those observed between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses for states and territories, Remoteness Areas and Indigenous Regions.

The analysis presented in this chapter is based on the 649,171 people who identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the 2016 Census. This analysis does not consider Census records where a person did not provide their Indigenous status.

FRAMEWORK FOR MEASURING CHANGE

In order to measure explainable change in Census counts between 2011 and 2016, the net effects of births, deaths and overseas migration are added (or subtracted) to the 2011 Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to produce an expected 2016 count.

If it were possible to achieve complete coverage in Census enumeration, and consistency in the reporting and recording of each person's Indigenous status, change in Census counts between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses would be entirely attributable to births, deaths and migration combined. In reality there will always be an element of the total change in counts between Censuses that cannot be explained, such as the change that occurs as a result of individuals identifying, or who are identified, as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person in one Census but not in another, as well as errors in the measurement of births, deaths and migration.

The framework for measuring explainable change can be represented as:


Graphic: change explained by demographic factors


The proportion of intercensal change attributable to explainable change is calculated on the difference between 2011 and 2016 Census counts.


CHANGE EXPLAINED BY DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS BY STATE AND TERRITORY

Natural increase

Natural increase is the net effect of deaths minus births between two Census periods. At the national level, 76.7% of the increase in Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016 can be attributed to natural increase. In comparison, 58.7% of the increase between 2006 and 2011 was attributable to natural increase.

MEASURING NATURAL INCREASE USING ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER STATUS IN BIRTH AND DEATH REGISTRATIONS

Birth and death registrations are important components of many demographic statistics, such as population estimates and calculations of life expectancy at birth. The ABS and the state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages are committed to improving the identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and also the completeness and accuracy of the recording of Indigenous status on birth and death registration forms. However, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not correctly identified or recorded as such when their birth or death is registered.

It is generally assumed that the number of registered births and deaths understates the level of fertility and mortality in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and so projected births would normally be used in this analysis, given they take into account this under-identification. However, the quality of Indigenous identification in registration data continues to improve. Consistent with this, between 2011 and 2016, the number of registered births exceeded the number of projected births in most jurisdictions. This increase in births registrations is consistent with the increase in the Census count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For this reason, births and deaths registrations rather than projections have been used.

Between states and territories, there is variation in the contribution to the intercensal change in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that can be attributed to natural increase. In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, just over half of the increase can be attributed to natural increase (57.0% and 58.7% respectively), while in Queensland, natural increase accounted for three-quarters of the increase (75.1%). In contrast, natural increase was greater than the overall increase in Census counts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia with the population growth among 0-4 year olds offsetting declines in numbers for all other age cohorts.


2.1 Change due to natural increase by State and Territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)

Census count
Intercensal change
Births(b)
Deaths(b)
Change due to
Natural Increase(c)
2011
2016
2011-2016
2011-2016
2011-2016
2011-2016
no.
no.
no.
%
no.
no.
no.
%

New South Wales
172 625
216 176
43 551
25.2
28 652
3 838
24 814
57.0
Victoria
37 992
47 788
9 796
25.8
6 801
635
6 166
62.9
Queensland
155 826
186 482
30 656
19.7
26 776
3 762
23 014
75.1
South Australia
30 432
34 184
3 752
12.3
4 692
823
3 869
103.1
Western Australia
69 664
75 978
6 314
9.1
13 915
2 435
11 480
181.8
Tasmania
19 625
23 572
3 947
20.1
2 656
194
2 462
62.4
Northern Territory
56 779
58 248
1 469
2.6
7 242
2 543
4 699
319.9
Australia Capital Territory
5 184
6 508
1 324
25.5
848
71
777
58.7
Australia(d)
548 368
649 171
100 803
18.4
91 608
14 305
77 303
76.7

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
(b) Registered births and deaths.
(c) Registered births minus registered deaths.
(d) Includes Other Territories. Please note, in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.1
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016; ABS Birth Registrations; ABS Death Registrations

Births and Fertility

There were 5,849 more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 0-4 year olds counted in the 2016 Census than in the 2011 Census (73,265 compared to 67,416). One possible explanation for this increase would be a higher fertility rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women between 2011 and 2016 than that observed between 2006 and 2011. However, the average number of children ever born across all age groups decreased slightly between these periods. This suggests that the increase may be a result of increased propensity for parents to identify their children as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the 2016 Census than in the 2011 Census. For more detailed analysis of fertility rates and parent/child identification please see Changing Propensity to Identify.

Overseas migration

Some information about overseas migration is collected in the Census, in response to the question "What was your place of usual residence five years ago?" People who answer this question by stating they were overseas are assumed to have migrated to Australia after the last Census and before the current Census. Persons who were overseas at the time of the 2016 Census will not have a Census record for 2016 so these will be an unquantifiable net loss between the two Censuses.

In the 2016 Census, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who indicated that they had been living overseas at the time of the 2011 Census accounted for 2.0% (1,969 persons) of the increase in Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during this period (compared with 1.5% or 1,375 persons between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses).

Administrative data sources of overseas migration (arrival and departure information from the Department of Home Affairs) do not collect the Indigenous status of persons arriving to or departing from Australia, so it is not possible to compare Census migration information to administrative records to explore possible differences.


2.2 Change due to overseas migration by State/Territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)

Census count
Intercensal change
Overseas migration(b)
Change due to
overseas migration
2011
2016
2011-2016
2011-2016
2011-2016
no.
no.
no.
%
no.
%

New South Wales
172 625
216 176
43 551
25.2
655
1.5
Victoria
37 992
47 788
9 796
25.8
278
2.8
Queensland
155 826
186 482
30 656
19.7
573
1.9
South Australia
30 432
34 184
3 752
12.3
92
2.5
Western Australia
69 664
75 978
6 314
9.1
197
3.1
Tasmania
19 625
23 572
3 947
20.1
52
1.3
Northern Territory
56 779
58 248
1 469
2.6
48
3.3
Australia Capital Territory
5 184
6 508
1 324
25.5
65
4.9
Australia(c)
548 368
649 171
100 803
18.4
1 969
2.0

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
(b) People who migrated to or returned to Australia from overseas.
(c) Includes Other Territories. Please note, in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.1
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

Interstate migration

Within Australia, migration between the states and territories provides an important insight into population changes at the jurisdictional level. Information on internal migration is collected in the Census, in response to the question "What was your place of usual residence five years ago?"

Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia recorded a net gain in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents from interstate migration. While most rates of net gain remained largely similar for these states and territories over the 2006 to 2011 intercensal period, the Australian Capital Territory recorded a net gain of 19.9% between 2011 and 2016 compared with 11.4% between 2006 and 2011.

The Northern Territory, Tasmania and New South Wales experienced net loss from interstate migration between 2011 and 2016. The net loss was highest in New South Wales (2,012 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people).


2.3 Change due to interstate migration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)

Census count
Intercensal change
Movers in(b)
Movers out(c)
Change due to
interstate migration(d)

2011
2016
2011-2016
2011-2016
2011-2016
2011-2016
no.
no.
no.
%
no.
no.
no.
%

New South Wales
172 625
216 176
43 551
25.2
5 824
7 836
–2,012
–4.6
Victoria
37 992
47 788
9 796
25.8
3 583
2 675
908
9.3
Queensland
155 826
186 482
30 656
19.7
8 184
6 659
1,525
5.0
South Australia
30 432
34 184
3 752
12.3
1 771
1 489
282
7.5
Western Australia
69 664
75 978
6 314
9.1
2 494
2 281
213
3.4
Tasmania
19 625
23 572
3 947
20.1
890
1 090
–200
–5.1
Northern Territory
56 779
58 248
1 469
2.6
2 094
3 055
–961
-65.4
Australian Capital Territory
5 184
6 508
1 324
25.5
1 128
865
263
19.9
Australia(e)
548 368
649 171
100 803
18.4
. .
. .
. .


(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
(b) People who migrated into that state/territory from another state/territory.
(c) People who migrated out of that state/territory to another state/territory.
(d) Movers in minus movers out.
(e) Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
. . not applicable
— nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.1
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016

CHANGE EXPLAINED BY DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS BY REMOTENESS

Natural increase

In Major Cities and Inner Regional areas, natural increase was substantially lower than relative change between Censuses and accounted for a smaller proportion of the overall increase in these areas compared to other parts of Australia.

Overseas migration

Whilst the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who migrated to, or returned to, Australia between 2011 and 2016 is small (1,969 persons), these persons were most likely to be returning to Major Cities. The number of people returning to Major Cities from overseas between 2011 and 2016 was more than double the number returning to Regional areas and significantly higher than Remote and Very Remote areas.

Inter-regional migration

Major Cities and Inner Regional areas were the main beneficiaries of inter-regional migration between 2011 and 2016 with the vast majority of movements into these areas.


2.4 Change explained by demographic factors, by Remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, 2011-2016(a)


Intercensal change
2011-2016
Births
Deaths
Natural
increase(b)
Overseas
migration
Net inter-regional migration
Total change explained
by demographic factors
no.
no.
%

Major Cities
53 981
33 110
3 677
29 433
1 313
9 379
40 125
74.3
Inner Regional
34 309
20 902
2 351
18 551
351
4 459
23 361
68.1
Outer Regional
9 391
19 170
3 325
15 845
236
1 545
17 626
187.7
Remote
455
6 695
1 748
4 947
38
–473
4 512
991.6
Very Remote
1 894
9 906
2 967
6 939
19
183
7 141
377.0
Australia(c)
100 803
91 608
14 305
77 303
1 969
. .
79 272
78.6


(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
(b) Registered births minus registered deaths.
(c) Includes Other Territories. Please note in 2016, this includes Norfolk Island.
. . not applicable
Note: Totals and components may not be consistent within and between tables due to introduced random error to protect confidentiality of Census respondents - see Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0).
See Datacube Explainable and Unexplainable change, Table 2.2
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011-2016; ABS Birth Registrations; ABS Death Registrations

CHANGE EXPLAINED BY DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS BY INDIGENOUS REGIONS

Natural increase

Across the 37 Indigenous Regions (IREGs) in Australia, 21 had natural increases greater than the overall increase in Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016. Kalgoorlie, Jabiru-Tiwi and North-Western New South Wales had the highest proportion of intercensal change due to natural increase.

There were four IREGs where less than half of their increase in Census counts between 2011 and 2016 was attributable to natural increase:

    • New South Wales Central and North Coast (42.3%)
    • West Kimberley (45.6%)
    • Melbourne (46.3%)
    • Brisbane (46.4%)


When natural increase is calculated as a proportion of the 2016 Census count in each IREG, Perth (16.1%), Geraldton (15.2%) and Cairns-Atherton (14.7%) had the highest proportion of the 2016 Census count attributable to natural increase. In contrast, the contribution of natural increase to the 2016 Census count was lowest in Apatula (4.5%), Nhulunbuy (5.0%) and Torres Strait (5.9%).

Overseas migration

Small changes in the number of persons migrating to an IREG in 2016 from overseas can appear as large proportional changes in IREGs with small population change. As such, for overseas migration, we’ve looked at overall numbers rather than proportional change or contribution. In 2016, the IREGs with the highest numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons migrating to Australia from overseas between 2011 and 2016 were all IREGs within close proximity to Australia’s three largest capital cities: Brisbane (377), Sydney-Wollongong (348) and Melbourne (216).

Inter-regional migration

As was the case with overseas migration, the proportional change due to inter-regional migration appears greater in IREGs where there was small change in counts between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses.

In the IREG of Brisbane, which had the largest count of net inter-regional migration (3,305 persons), also had the highest proportion of positive change due to inter-regional migration (18.9% of relative change between 2011 and 2016). Apatula recorded the highest proportion of relative change attributable to inter-regional migration however the actual increases in counts in Apatula as a result of net inter-regional migration are relatively small (108 persons).

As can be expected, IREGs recording a decline in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016 (i.e. negative growth) were more likely to record a loss in population due to inter-regional migration than IREGs where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population increased. This was particularly the case in Mount Isa where net inter-regional migration saw an intercensal loss of 565 persons, far greater than Mount Isa’s overall change (a loss of 57 persons). Similarly, in North-Western NSW net inter-regional migration contributed a loss of 546 persons, far greater than North-Western NSW’s overall absolute change (an intercensal gain of 34 persons).