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Social Circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
In 2001, 30% of the Indigenous population lived in Major Cities, about 44% in regional areas and 26% in remote areas. By comparison, approximately two-thirds (67%) of the non-Indigenous population lived in Major Cities and only 2% in remote areas. As a consequence, the proportion of the total population that were Indigenous varied from 1% in Major Cities to 24% in remote areas (45% in the Very Remote component).
...states and territories
The states with the largest Indigenous populations were New South Wales (29% of the total Indigenous population) and Queensland (28%). Queensland had the largest Torres Strait Islander population (59% of the total Torres Strait Islander population), including 14% living in the Torres Strait area. The other states with large Indigenous populations were Western Australian (14% of the total Indigenous population) and the Northern Territory (12%).
Indigenous peoples comprise about 30% of the Northern Territory population but less than 4% of the total population in each of the other states and territories. Four-fifths (81%) of the Indigenous population living in the Northern Territory lived in the Remote and Very Remote areas of the Northern Territory.
Population by Remoteness Areas(a) - 2001
HEALTH AND DISABILITY
Health concerns among the Indigenous population include high rates of diabetes, heart disease and respiratory conditions. (endnote 2) The health of people in remote communities is affected by their isolation and limited access to health services as well as factors relevant to the Indigenous population as a whole (see Australian Social Trends 2003, Services in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities).
In 2002, 38% of Indigenous people reported that they had a disability or long-term health condition, with little difference between people living in remote and non-remote areas. Among Indigenous peoples aged 15-49 years in 2002, those with a disability or long-term health condition reported lower levels of participation in sport, school completion to at least Year 10 or mainstream employment (non-CDEP employment) than those without a disability or long-term health condition. They reported higher levels of financial stress and contact with the criminal justice system (as either victims or offenders), and greater difficulty with transport (endnote 3) (see Australian Social Trends 2005, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons: contact with the law).
In 2002, 42% of Indigenous people aged 18 years and over reported their health as Excellent/Very good, 33% as Good, and 25% as Fair/Poor. While the proportion of people who reported Excellent/Very good health was similar in remote and non-remote areas, those living in non-remote areas were more likely to rate their health as Fair/Poor (27% compared with 22%). The pattern of self-assessed health in 2002 was similar to that reported in 1994.
After taking into account the different age structures of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, Indigenous adults were one-and-a-half times more likely than non-Indigenous people to have a disability or long-term health condition. They were nearly twice as likely to report their health as Fair/Poor.
Self assessed health status(a) - 2002
HEALTH CHARACTERISTICS OF INDIGENOUS PERSONS(a) - 1994 and 2002
Education is generally considered to be a key factor in improving outcomes for Indigenous peoples (endnote 4). However, a range of issues affect participation in education, including access to educational institutions, health, financial constraints and community expectations.
In 2002, Indigenous people who had completed school to at least Year 10, reported higher levels of mainstream employment, higher income and greater use of information technology, compared with those who had not done so (endnote 3).
The proportion of Indigenous people aged 18 years and over who had a non-school qualification increased from 19% to 29% between 1994 and 2002. Over this period, the proportion who reported a certificate or diploma increased from 12% to 24% and the proportion with a bachelor degree or higher qualification rose from 1% to 4%. Despite these gains in educational attainment, Indigenous adults were still less likely than non-Indigenous adults to have a non-school qualification in 2002 (29% compared to 50%).
WORK AND INCOME
Income gained through employment is vital to the wellbeing of many working age Australians and their families, contributing to their financial independence and security. Factors contributing to the labour force participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples include their level of educational attainment and the limited range of employment opportunities in remote areas (see Australian Social Trends 2004, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the labour force).
In 2002, 36% of Indigenous people aged 18 years and over were in mainstream employment and an additional 13% were participants in CDEP. In non-remote areas there was a higher proportion of people in mainstream employment than there was in remote areas; and most CDEP participation was located in remote areas.
Between 1994 and 2002, the proportion of Indigenous people aged 18 years and over in mainstream employment rose from 30% to 36%, and the unemployment rate for this age group fell from 30% to 20%. The fall in Indigenous unemployment was consistent with the general decline in national unemployment over this period.
In 2002, compared with Indigenous people who were unemployed, not in the labour force or participants in CDEP, those in mainstream employment reported higher incomes, less financial stress and lower levels of involvement with the criminal justice system (as either victims or offenders) (endnote 3).
Indigenous people continue to experience lower levels of employment and higher levels of unemployment than non-Indigenous people. In 2002, after adjusting for the different age structures of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, Indigenous adults were half as likely as non-Indigenous adults to be in mainstream employment and more than twice as likely to be unemployed.
EDUCATIONAL ATTENDANCE AND ATTAINMENT BY INDIGENOUS STATUS(a) - 1994 and 2002
LABOUR FORCE STATUS OF INDIGENOUS PERSONS(a) - 1994 and 2002
Labour force status(a) - 2002
In 2002, the mean equivalised gross household income of Indigenous people aged 18 years and over was $394 per week, with a higher level reported in non-remote areas ($407 per week) than in remote areas ($354 per week). The real mean equivalised gross household income of Indigenous people rose between 1994 and 2002 from $374 to $394 per week (after adjusting for increases in the cost of living using the Consumer Price Index). In 2002, the mean equivalised gross household income of Indigenous adults was equal to 59% of that of non-Indigenous adults.
In 2002, 54% of Indigenous people aged 18 years and over reported that they would be unable to raise $2,000 within a week in a time of crisis. This measure of financial stress was reported by a greater proportion of people in remote areas (73%) than in non-remote areas (47%). Overall, Indigenous adults were almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous adults to report this measure of financial stress.
Housing satisfies many fundamental personal and social needs, providing shelter, security, privacy, living space and necessary household facilities. The relationship between adequate housing and the general health and wellbeing of the Indigenous population has been a focus of concern, underlying a range of government policies and programs. (endnote 6)
In 2002, the majority (70%) of Indigenous people aged 18 years and over were living in rented dwellings. The proportion renting was lower in non-remote areas (64%) than it was in remote areas (85%). In remote areas almost four out of five renters were living in accommodation provided by Indigenous Housing Organisations or in other community housing.
Overall, about a quarter (27%) of Indigenous people were living in dwellings that were either fully owned or being purchased. The proportion of people in dwellings that were being purchased rose from 11% in 1994 to 17% in 2002.
The adequacy of dwellings and household facilities may vary with geographical location. In 2002, Indigenous people in remote areas were more likely than those in non-remote areas to live in dwellings with major structural problems (58% compared with 33%) and less likely to have had repairs and maintenance carried out in the previous year (52% compared with 67%).
INCOME AND FINANCIAL STRESS BY INDIGENOUS STATUS(a) - 1994 and 2002
Access to many household facilities tends to be taken for granted. Generally, across the total Indigenous population, the level of access to most household facilities is very high. There are, however, certain facilities that are not as readily available to Indigenous people, particularly those living in remote areas. In 2002, almost one in seven Indigenous people (14%) in remote areas lived in dwellings that did not have a working refrigerator, and the same proportion of people did not have a working stove, oven or other cooking facility. A higher proportion of Indigenous peoples in remote areas than in non-remote areas were living in dwellings that had sewerage facilities that did not work (6% compared with 0.5%). Nationally, 11% of the Indigenous population aged 18 years and over lived in dwellings without a working washing machine (23% in remote areas) and 29% lived in dwellings that did not have a working telephone (57% in remote areas).
People without household facilities(a) - 2002
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004, Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, cat. no. 3238.0, ABS, Canberra.
2 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003, The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, cat. no. 4704.0, ABS, Canberra.
3 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2002, cat. no. 4714.0, ABS, Canberra.
4 Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Committee 2002, Katu Kalpa- Report on the inquiry into the effectiveness of education and training programs for Indigenous Australians, <http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/eet_ctte/completed_inquiries/1999-02/indiged/report/contents.htm>, accessed 15 June 2005.
5 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1994, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey - detailed findings, 1994, cat. no. 4190.0, ABS, Canberra.
6 Department of Family and Community Services 2001, Building a better future: Indigenous housing to 2010, <http://www.facs.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/indigenous/indigenous_housing_2010.htm>, accessed 15 July 2005.