2077.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counts, 2016  
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CHANGING PROPENSITY TO IDENTIFY

Key findings
  • Children of couples where both parents are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin are more likely to be identified than children of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person. The number of children in these families has increased significantly between 2006 and 2016.
  • In families with a couple consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person, children are more likely to be identified if the mother identifies than if the father does.
  • Data suggests that changing propensity to identify may be related to key life events. Specifically, there is a trend of young adults (20-29 years old) no longer identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

The chapters Change Explained by Demographic Factors and Change Not Explained by Demographic Factors found that 21.4% of the 100,803 person increase in Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between 2011 and 2016 cannot be accounted for by demographic factors such as births, deaths and overseas migration.

This component of the increase represents population change that may be explained by factors such as: changing fertility rates; the impact on child identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons partnering with non-Indigenous persons; and changes in the propensity of people to identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin between Censuses.

This chapter will:

    • Explore the impact of changing family structures and changing fertility rates across Census cycles.
    • Analyse changing propensity to identify by looking at family dynamics, changes in the Indigenous status of children, and whether a person's propensity to identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin varies across life stages.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER COUPLE FAMILIES

Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, the number of couples where one or both partners identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander increased by 34.8%, from 67,288 in 2011 to 90,682 in 2016.

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples where both partners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander has fallen to 21.8% in 2016 with couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person at 78.2%.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couple families

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couple family is one where one or both partners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

A family is defined in the Census as two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who are usually present in the same household. Each separately identified couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship forms the basis of a family.

A couple is defined as two people who were present on Census night who have a relationship of husband, wife, or partner.

An Indigenous and non-Indigenous Partnership Couple is a family where only one partner identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and the other partner is non-Indigenous.

Persons who did not answer the Indigenous status question are excluded from this analysis which means this analysis will under-represent the true numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couple families.


Indigenous and non-Indigenous Partnership Couples

In 1996, 64.3% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples were couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person.


In the 20 years since 1996, these couples have made up an ever-increasing proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples. Over this period, in both the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania, couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person have accounted for a consistently high proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples. In the Northern Territory, the proportion of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person has remained consistently low. In all other jurisdictions, couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person have accounted for a growing share of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples.


Graph Image for 4.1 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Partnership Couples by State and Territory(a), 1996-2016(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner as a proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples. (b) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. (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).

Source(s): Australian Census of Population and Housing, 1996-2016


In 2016, couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person made up 87.1% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples in Non-Remote areas and just 26.8% of couples in Remote areas. Couples residing in more Remote areas were more likely to have both partners identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person made up only 14.3% of couples in Very Remote areas compared to 91.6% of couples in Major Cities.

There is a relationship between areas with high rates of couples with one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person and areas with high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander intercensal population growth. Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, Non-Remote areas saw significant growth (22.8%) while Remote areas only grew slightly (2.0%). Over the same period, the number of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person increased much faster in Non-Remote areas than Remote areas (36.5% compared to 8.9%).

4.2 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples(a)(b), by Remoteness, 2016

Remote
Non-Remote
Australia(c)

Indigenous status of couple
no.
%
no.
%
no.
%

Both partners of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
12 548
73.3
12 764
12.9
25 311
21.8
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Partnership Couples(d)
4 587
26.8
86 100
87.1
90 682
78.2
Only male partner of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
2 097
12.2
41 622
42.1
43 728
37.7
Only female partner of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
2 486
14.5
44 472
45.0
46 956
40.5

Total Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander couples
17 130
100.0
98 861
100.0
115 992
100.0

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
(b) Includes couples who are married or in a de facto relationship. Excludes same-sex couples, lone parents and couples in which one partner was absent on Census night.
(c) Includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address.
(d) Couples with one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander partner and one non-Indigenous partner.
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 Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.2
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016

FERTILITY RATES

As discussed in Change Explained by Demographic Factors, 0-4 year olds made up the majority of the intercensal increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses (72.7%). They also contributed 10.4% of the difference between the 2016 Estimated Resident Population and the 2016 Population Projections (Change Explained by Demographic Factors).
Possible explanations for this increase include:

    • A higher fertility rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females between 2011 and 2016 than observed between 2006 and 2011.
    • An 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.

To determine whether the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fertility rate was higher in 2011-2016 than in 2006-2011, we can examine estimated fertility rates using data on children ever born from the Census.

The number of children ever born to a female is a measure of her lifetime fertility experience up to the point at which the Census was collected. Whilst this is not an indicator of current levels of fertility, it is a reliable measure of completed fertility of women between 40 and 49 years as we assume that almost all women have had all of their children by the time they reach that age range.

There were no significant changes in the fertility levels for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the older age groups (40-44 and 45-49 years) between the intercensal periods 2006-2011 and 2011-2016. In fact, the average number of children ever born across all age groups decreased during these periods.

4.3 Average number of children ever born, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females(a), 2006-2016

2006
2011
2016

Age group (years)
Average no. per female

15-19
0.16
0.13
0.09
20-24
0.85
0.76
0.61
25-29
1.73
1.59
1.38
30-34
2.38
2.33
2.08
35-39
2.74
2.73
2.59
40-44
2.84
2.82
2.77
45-49
2.92
2.84
2.79

15-49 years
1.78
1.70
1.57

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
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 Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.3
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

The average number of children ever born to females in couples varies according to couple type. Females in couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person reported having fewer children on average than females in couples where both partners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. This data should be interpreted with caution as it is not possible to be certain that a female’s partner on Census night is the partner with which they had their children.

4.4 Average number of children ever born, females in couple families, 2016(a)

Indigenous and non-Indigenous
Partnership Couples
Both Partners identify as
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
Both Partners Identify as
Non-Indigenous(b)

Age group (years)
Average no. per female

15-19
0.33
0.59
0.22
20-24
0.67
1.26
0.38
25-29
1.24
2.06
0.70
30-34
1.91
2.78
1.32
35-39
2.40
3.28
1.88
40-44
2.55
3.38
2.11
45-49
2.53
3.37
2.15

15-49 years
1.91
2.64
1.60

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
(b) Excludes persons who did not answer the Indigenous status question
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 Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.4
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016


PARENT-CHILD IDENTIFICATION

The Census Household Form is usually completed by a parent/guardian on behalf of a child and hence making decisions about how their children respond to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander question. This may mean that a child is identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or non-Indigenous depending on which parent or guardian completed the form in each Census.

Changing custodial relationships and significant life course events such as leaving the parental home may also have an impact on how parents of children respond to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin question.

In 2016, most (92.5%) children with at least one parent who identified as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person were also identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. There were 12,854 (7.5%) children with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent that were identified as non-Indigenous.

It is notable that 14.5% of children with only an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander father and 6.1% of children with only an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mother were identified as non-Indigenous persons in 2016.

While families where both parents identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander are more likely to identify their children, the number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children living in those families has decreased by 5.7% since 2006. Notably, over the same time period, the number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children with only a father of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin increased by 48.4%. Since children with male parents who identified seem less likely to be identified than female parents, this may contribute to variability in the rates of identification.

In families with couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person and with children, identification rates of children with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mother or father only were 90.2% and 84.1% respectively. Children of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander fathers remain less likely to be identified than the children of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mothers, but the gap is much narrower than that observed for all children. This could be a result of the larger number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with one female parent.

4.5 Indigenous status of children aged 0-14 years, by Indigenous status of parent, 2006-2016(a)

2006
2011
2016
Intercensal change in
Census Counts 2006-2016

ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILD

%

One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin (b)
91.2
91.0
91.3
34.6
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
84.8
85.2
85.5
48.4
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
93.8
93.5
93.9
29.6
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
98.3
98.2
99.0
-5.7

Total
92.8
92.5
92.5
25.1

NON-INDIGENOUS CHILD(c)

%

One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin (b)
8.8
9.0
8.7
33.5
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
15.2
14.8
14.5
40.8
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
6.3
6.5
6.1
26.0
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
1.7
1.8
1.0
-41.5

Total
7.2
7.5
7.5
29.5

Total children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent
137 304
156 378
172 190
25.4

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
(b) Includes lone parents.
(c) Includes Indigenous status not stated.
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 Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.5
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2006-2016

Parent-child identification in couple and lone parent families

Analysing identification patterns by family composition shows that lone parents identify their children at similar rates to couples where both partners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. In 2016, 96.6% of children in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander one parent families identified their children. In couple families with children, nearly all children with two Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parents were also identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin (99.0%).

4.6 Indigenous status of children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent(a)(b), by Family Composition, 2016

Couple family with children
One parent family
Total

ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILD

%

One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
87.2
. .
91.3
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
84.1
94.9
85.5
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
90.2
96.7
93.9
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
99.0
. .
99.0

Total
90.3
96.6
92.5

NON-INDIGENOUS CHILD(c)

%

One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
12.8
. .
8.7
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
15.9
5.1
14.5
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
9.8
3.3
6.1
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
1.0
. .
1.0

Total
9.7
3.5
7.5

Total children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent
110 171
62 016
172 190

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
(b) Includes lone parents.
(c) Includes Indigenous status not stated.
. . 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 Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.6
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Parent-child identification by age of child

Older children of mixed-parent couples are less likely to be identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander than younger children. Notably, this is only for children of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person where the father identifies as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. For children of couples consisting of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and one non-Indigenous person where the mother identifies as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rates are fairly consistent over the three age groups. This pattern was also observed in the 2011 Census.

As children aged 5-14 are the age-cohort with the largest contribution to the unexplained increase Change Not Explained by Demographic Factors, this suggests that unexplained growth in these age groups is not being caused by delayed identification of younger children.

4.7 Children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent (a)(b), by Indigenous status and age of child, 2016

0-4 years
5-9 years
10-14 years

ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILD

%

One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
92.1
91.1
90.5
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
89.2
84.7
82.2
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
93.4
93.9
94.4
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
98.9
99.0
99.0

Total
93.2
92.4
91.9

NON-INDIGENOUS CHILD(c)

%

One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
7.9
8.9
9.5
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
10.8
15.3
17.8
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
6.5
6.1
5.6
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
1.2
1.0
0.9

Total
6.8
7.6
8.1

Total children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent
58 528
59 916
53 573

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
(b) Includes lone parents.
(c) Includes Indigenous status not stated.
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 Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.7
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Parent-child identification by Remoteness
Children in Remote areas were more likely to be identified as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander child. While Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander fathers were less likely to identify their children than Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mothers in both Remote and Non-Remote areas, this difference is smaller in Remote areas.

While 84.9% of children in Non-Remote areas with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander father were identified as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin in the Census, this increased to 92.9% in Remote areas.

4.8 Children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent (a)(b), by Remoteness, Family Composition and Indigenous status of child, 2016

Non-remote
Remote
Australia(c)

ABORIGINAL AND/OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILD

%

One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
90.6
96.7
91.3
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
84.9
92.9
85.5
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
93.4
97.7
93.9
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
98.1
99.7
99.0

Total
91.3
98.2
92.5

NON-INDIGENOUS CHILD(d)

%

One parent/guardian of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin(b)
9.4
3.3
8.7
Only male parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
15.1
7.2
14.5
Only female parent is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
6.6
2.3
6.1
Both parents/guardians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
1.9
0.3
1.0

Total
8.7
1.8
7.5

Total children aged 0-14 years with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parent
141 480
30 712
172 190

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Includes Other Territories. Excludes overseas visitors.
(b) Includes lone parents.
(c) Includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address.
(d) Includes Indigenous status not stated.
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 Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.8
Source: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2016

CHANGING PROPENSITY TO IDENTIFY OVER TIME
Using the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD), we are able to see how peoples’ responses change to the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander question between the 2011 and 2016 Census.

Identification in the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD)

For this analysis, three identification groups have been created:

    • Newly-identified – persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016 and non-Indigenous in 2011
    • Consistently-identified – persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in both 2011 and 2016
    • Previously-identified - persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011 and non-Indigenous in 2016


Excluded from the ACLD for the purposes of this analysis are persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2011, and persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2016. These two groups account for a relatively small number of ACLD records (13,882 in total).

For further information on the ACLD, see Technical Note 3 – Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD).



4.9 Indigenous status identification change, Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016

Identification Group2011 Indigenous Status2016 Indigenous Status
ACLD Person Counts
ACLD Person Estimates

Consistently identified as Aboriginal and/or
Torres Strait Islander
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderAboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
18 606
572 375

Previously identified as Aboriginal and/or
Torres Strait Islander
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderNon-Indigenous
1 710
40 456

Newly identified as Aboriginal and/or
Torres Strait Islander
Non-IndigenousAboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
4 146
120 461

Consistently identified as non-IndigenousNon-IndigenousNon-Indigenous
886 024
19 928 611

OtherAboriginal and/or Torres Strait IslanderNot Stated
176
4 586
Not StatedAboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
308
9 188
Non-IndigenousNot Stated
6 901
179 543
Not StatedNon-Indigenous
9 201
213 330
Not StatedNot Stated
440
11 478

Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.9
Source: Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016.

There are two types of persons with a response of ‘not stated’ to the Indigenous status question on the ACLD file: persons who did not answer the Indigenous status question and persons whose records were imputed because of dwelling non-response.


For the purposes of this analysis, records with an unknown Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status in either year have been excluded. This includes persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2011, and persons who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011 and had an unknown Indigenous status in 2016. For detailed analysis of persons with an unknown Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status see Technical Note 1 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Status and the Census.

There are 17,026 linked records with at least one non-response to the Indigenous status question, either in 2011, 2016 or both. The majority of these (54.0%) were non-Indigenous people in 2016 while a further 2.6% were consistently ‘not stated’.

Identification change by Remoteness

The chapter Change Not Explained by Demographic Factors, showed the unexplained increase was almost exclusively occurring in Non-Remote Australia. This is supported by the ACLD analysis, which showed that 96.3% of people who newly identified lived in Non-Remote Australia in 2016. Previously identifying persons also primarily lived in Non-Remote Australia (94.9%). This reinforces that changing propensity to identify has a very small impact in Remote Australia.

Although the proportional changes in the newly identified and previously identified populations are broadly similar, the numbers of newly-identified persons are much higher than the numbers of previously identified persons.


Graph Image for 4.10 Consistency of identification as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person by Remoteness, 2011-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2011 and identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016. (b) Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2016 and previously identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011. Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016


Life course identification

While a person can start, stop or continue to identify at any age, it is reasonable to expect that changes in propensity to identify could be affected by major life events. One way to explore this further is to examine the age distribution of the three identification groups. While the age distribution of the consistently identified and newly identified population is similar there are observable differences for the previously-identified population. Persons who previously identified are more likely to be aged 20-24 and 25-29 years old in 2016. This age group coincides with the age that many young people leave the parental home and may suggest that, as these persons are completing their own Census forms for the first time, they are identifying differently. This may be a factor in the negative unexplained change observed in the 20-24 year age group in Overview of the Increase.


Graph Image for 4.11 Consistency of identification as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person by age group, 2011-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2011 and identfied as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016. (b) Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2016 and previously identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011. Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016.


Parent-child identification

Parental characteristics on a child’s Census record are taken from family information reported by people in the household on Census night. This means that in cases of separation, re-marriage, divorce, adoption or fostering, the parental relationships captured by the Census are not necessarily biological relationships. In these situations, we can expect differences between how children and parents identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander persons.

Children aged 0-4 in 2016 were born in the intercensal period and, as such, they do not have a 2011 record to be linked to their 2016 Census record. Accordingly, the analysis in this section concentrates on children who were aged 5-14 years in 2016.

In the 2011-2016 ACLD, most (93.9%) children aged 5-14 years whose parents both identified as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin in 2016, consistently identified between the two Censuses. Almost all the remaining children whose parents were both Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, newly identified in 2016 (4.5%). This suggests that the presence of two Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parents in the family is related to children identifying or being identified. Similar trends were also observed in the 2006-2011 ACLD.

Children who have identifying mothers are more likely to be identified than child with identifying fathers. Over three-quarters (76.6%) of children with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mother were consistently identified compared to 66.2% of children with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander father. One in ten (10.3%) children with only an identifying father were non-Indigenous in both 2011 or 2016.

One in five children with only an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mother (18.0%) or only an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander father (20.7%) were newly identified in 2016. The vast majority of children (95.8%) with no identifying parent were consistently non-Indigenous. Approximately 30,500 children (1.1%) were consistently identified as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child despite having no identifying parent in 2016.

4.12 Indigenous status of children aged 5-14 years by Indigenous status of parents, Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016

Consistently
identifying
Newly
identifying(a)
Previously
identifying(b)
Consistently
non-Indigenous
Total children
aged 5-14 years(c)

Indigenous status of parent/guardian
%

Father identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
66.2
20.7
0.6
10.3
100.0
Mother identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
76.6
18.0
0.4
2.7
100.0
Both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
93.9
4.5
100.0
No identifying parent
1.1
0.3
0.2
95.8
100.0

Total children aged 5-14 years(c)
147 446
31 454
6 210
2 566 620
2 819 334

(a) Excludes children who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2011 and identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016.
(b) Excludes children who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2016 and previously identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011.
(c) Includes children whose Indigenous status was not provided in both ACLD datasets, persons whose Indigenous status has changed from non-Indigenous to not provided, and persons whose Indigenous status was previously not provided and has changed to non-Indigenous.
— nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.12
Source: Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016.

Analysis of the changing identification of parents in the 2011-2016 ACLD reveals that there is consistency between how parents identify themselves and how they identify their children.

Generally, a child’s Indigenous status changes or stays the same depending on changes in their parents’ status. This trend is stronger for female parents than for male parents, although the number of applicable female parents on the ACLD for identifying children was almost twice the number of applicable male parents.

The majority of consistently-identified children in 2016 had consistently identifying female (65.6%) or male (59.1%) parents. A newly identified child is also more likely to have a newly-identified female parent (51.2%)

Children who were newly or previously identified were just as likely to have a non-Indigenous male parent (53.6% and 51.5%) than an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander male parent. While the majority of newly identified children have newly identified mothers (51.2%), the previously identified children were more likely to have a non-Indigenous female parent (49.2%) than a previously identified female parent (41.6%).


4.13 Indigenous status of children aged 5-14 by Indigenous status of parents, Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016

Consistently
identifying
Newly
identifying(a)
Previously
identifying(b)

Estimate

Female parent consistently identified
83 688
1 542
281
Female parent newly identified(a)
2 457
14 184
Female parent previously identified(b)
2 199
2 092
Female parent consistently non-Indigenous
38 341
11 721
2 473
Total children aged 5-14 years with an applicable female parent(c)
127 604
27 731
5 027

Male parent consistently identified
38 281
917
218
Male parent newly identified(a)
1 070
6,459
58
Male parent previously identified(b)
1 242
1 160
Male parent consistently non-Indigenous
23 690
9,083
1 418
Total children aged 5-14 years with an applicable male parent(c)(d)
64 777
16 945
2 756

%

Female parent consistently identified
65.6
5.6
5.6
Female parent newly identified(a)
1.9
51.2
Female parent previously identified(b)
1.7
41.6
Female parent consistently non-Indigenous
30.0
42.3
49.2
Total children aged 5-14 years with an applicable female parent(c)
100.0
100.0
100.0

Male parent consistently identified
59.1
5.4
7.9
Male parent newly identified(a)
1.7
38.1
2.1
Male parent previously identified(b)
1.9
42.1
Male parent consistently non-Indigenous
36.6
53.6
51.5
Total children aged 5-14 years with an applicable male parent(c)(d)
100.0
100.0
100.0

(a) Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2011 and identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2016.
(b) Excludes persons who did not provide their Indigenous status in 2016 and previously identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2011.
(c) Excludes children with a male or female parent who were not applicable. A parent who was not present at the time of the Census is not considered an applicable parent and is excluded from this analysis. This includes children of single parents, as their second parent will be coded as not applicable.
(d) Includes children with applicable parents who did not respond to the Indigenous status question in either 2011, 2016 or both.
— nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
Note: Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
See Datacube Changing Propensity to Identify, Table 3.13
Source: Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2011-2016.